Gender  

Time for women to rise is now – Sunmbo Adeoye

Sunmbo Ajaba Adeoye is a multi-passionate entrepreneur. The CEO and Chief Creative Director at Esob Events and the founder of Esob Heroes.

She is a graduate of Accounting & Finance and an alumna of Lagos Business School. She is the convener of the annual Inspiring change conference, a platform where she deliberately imparts knowledge, inspires change and transforms the lives of men and women in business with a focus on nation-building.

She was recently honoured in London as a Goldman Sachs Star Scholar, as one of the 10,000 women in Africa to benefit from the initiative and graduate with impeccable results in business.

With her outstanding drive to guide others towards fulfilling a purpose, Adesunmbo is a mentor to many and a recipient of numerous awards for her dedication and contribution towards progressive initiatives and humanity in Nigeria.

She runs the Esob Academy, where she trains budding event managers, the events planning, coordination and styling business.

She is happily married to Pastor David Adeoye, the senior pastor of Royalty Christian Centre, where she serves as the First Lady, and they are both blessed with great and intelligent.

On the occasion of the 2019 International Women’s Day, she discussed how her NGO has been impacting the lives of market women in Agege area of Lagos State.

What is the Inspiring Change Initiative all about?
The Inspiring change initiative is a vision born out of my ceaseless desires to support entrepreneurial ideas, through mentorship, Advisory services, Free Trainings, and capacity building.

This initiative was established in 2013 as a platform where women can interact, learn, grow and those striving to take the lead in their respective businesses and career can be well-informed and empowered.

Throughout the year, we offer a variety of free programs that enhances knowledge, imparts change and transform lives deliberately.

‎What was your vision as a young woman and how did you to get to journey into entrepreneurship?
As a young lady, with a decade of active service in the banking industry, my dream was to further become a successful business owner. In 2011, I resigned from banking and applied for a scholarship at Lagos Business School, under the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women initiative. I was awarded the scholarship and graduated with a certificate in entrepreneurial management.

After I completed the training successfully, my view of entrepreneurship changed and the experience significantly improved how I run my business henceforth. This benefit prompted the need to also help other budding female entrepreneurs realize that they can take baby steps today and become successful if they keep at it with the right knowledge and structure. I then purposed in my heart to pay it forward by helping as many out there fulfil purpose deliberately and that’s how I got to where I am today.

Why women and what special benefit does your initiative bring?
Over the centuries, only a very few percentages of women ruled the entrepreneurial frontline, but today women have really come a long way and the margin is gradually closing up with many women thriving and shattering ceilings in male-dominated industries.

Although history hasn’t been fair enough to celebrate the ones who have stood out with impeccable results, especially the pioneers but we won’t relent as the initiative not only celebrates these women but also brings the knowledge of their achievement to others who are most definitely going to be inspired by their success stories.

The inspiring change initiative seeks to fill the gap between the leading female entrepreneurs, and the common woman who sees them as role models but from afar. This we achieve with the annual conference that allows attendees the privilege of meeting these great inspirations in person, listen to them share from their vast knowledge and ask questions based on the areas of their expertise, all for free.

‎Your vision is centred on empowering women and educating the girl child deliberately. Are there programs you have in place to empower women and how do you go about educating them deliberately?
Yes, apart from the Inspiring Change annual conference that seeks to inspire women, we also offer several outstanding programs, to further intensify our impact. Programs such as:

Mentor Meets Mentee: A Bi-Annual mentorship program that was introduced in September 2015, with the aim of educating undergraduates about entrepreneurship and its many stages and intricacies. We have since, reached out to students in polytechnics, college of educations and University of Lagos, in January and September 2016 respectively.

GCE & JAMB Scheme: A program that pays for the procurement of forms and tuition for young school leavers, to encourage their pursuit towards achieving their dreams of becoming successful female graduates.

Inspiring Change Deliberately: A movement that offers a series of free training by experts in various fields and sectors, teaching entrepreneurship advancement and donating free empowerment tools to market women.

This February this year, we had a series of entrepreneurial advancement talk with market women and donated FREE empowerment tools to hundreds of them in the Orile Agege community and her environs.

What has the feedback been like in the past 5 years?
Over the years, the turnout has been remarkable as many had been longing for such program as this, where women can
interact, learn and grow. The goal was surpassed from Day 1 and the impact of the conference, either via our free online seminars and active online and real live engagements, cannot be overemphasized.

This year’s conference is the 6th of its kind and it is packed with an inspiring line up of outstanding female panellists from various fields and industries.

It is scheduled to hold on the 8th of March in commemoration of the international women’s day and on Saturday 30th of March respectively‎.

What is the theme and what issues are you trying to address with it?
It’s been observed that many people do not understand the concept of entrepreneurship, the risks involved and the hurdles they will cross to achieve outstanding success. Many believe it’s in just starting something for the sake of making a living, and they venture into it without adequate preparations against the challenges that may occur along the journey. This year’s conference theme is ‘NEW DIMENSION” and its aim is to further inform attendees about the under-tapped opportunities available in collaborating with like-minded female entrepreneurs, and how they can “think equal, build smart and innovate for a visible change in business, ministry and career. We will definitely be touching on how to generate ideas, recognize opportunities, and how to manage the business of the talented; for investors buy-in and to ensure it is sustained beyond a livelihood.

What prompted the choice of your guest’s speaker/panellist?
Every year, the initiative invites female guest speakers and panellists, all of whom have bridged the gender gap in their respective fields, dominated by a male counterpart. These women are leading female entrepreneurs with proven track records of impeccable achievements in their various fields. We’ve had in conference, women like Pastor Nomthi Odukoya, Ibukun Awosika, Kemi Adetiba, Toke Makinwa, Jumoke Adenowo, Pastor Nike Adeyemi, to mention a few.

What’s your projection for the future of the initiative?
By the grace of God, we plan to set up a knowledge centre that will cater to the increasing need for globalized education in information for young entrepreneurs. A go-to place for programs that will inform budding entrepreneurs and young talents about how to manage their talents/idea/innovation and pitch it for exportation and investors.

Many budding entrepreneurs today still face the problem of Market Entry and Idea funding; we hope to build an institution that will fill that gap.

Is the empowerment advancement package limited to only women in Agege Lagos?
No, it’s not limited to only the women in Agege, Lagos. They say charity begins at home and that’s why we have chosen to spread our impact from Agege to the World. This will, in turn, cover several female entrepreneurs, irrespective of their religion, state of origin or location and they too can benefit from the free empowerment packages, which comes in form of Cash, work Tools, Free Trainings and Mentorship.

As a follow up from an annual conference, we’ve had beneficiaries from outside of Lagos, like the fish seller from Kaduna, who was flown in to Lagos in 2016 alongside her “corper” son and given some funds to acquire a deep freezer and scaling machine to further enhance her business, and several other women from other states including Lagos.

Apart from these donations, we believe the knowledge impacted and the benefit of a continuous mentorship received by beneficiaries of the inspiring change initiatives grants, is much more valuable and it keeps them accountable and ahead of their peers always.

Tell us about how you’ve funded the initiative in the past 5 years.
– The initiative has solely been funded from my personal savings, and of course funds from our ever-supportive families and friends.
This year, we have received impressive partnerships from corporate brands and small-scale enterprise too. We look forward to a laudable backing from financial institutions and the Lagos State Government.

How would you access the Nigerian governments approach to encouraging entrepreneurship? The Nigerian economy as we grew to know has depended so long on Oil, and recently Agriculture. The increasing need to diversify from its dependency on oil has now caused the federal government to initiate the TRADER MONI support scheme for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. As part of the (GEEP) scheme of the Federal Government being executed by the Bank of Industry. I am also aware that Lagos state through the Lagos state employment trust fund is also trying her best to encourage indigenous businesses.

What is your advice to young female entrepreneurs out there?
This is your season; the time is now. You need to leverage on all the available platforms available to this generation (like social media) and secure the bag, push out the solutions you carry to the visibility it requires because the world awaits your manifestation. Don’t hang around processes that are failing and don’t sit too long with people who do not believe in your dreams and aspirations. They may not necessarily give you a space on the table, so Rise up now, earn it with pride or create your own table. You can and you will if you remain steadfast, diligent and dedicated to winning only. This is just a starting point. See you at the TOP.

What’s your advice to young female entrepreneurs?
The time and season to RISE are now! The internet is availing us as women so much to do with it. If you are a woman reading, I beg you to delay no longer. STOP letting fear, laziness, lack of adaptation to change, self-limiting beliefs, and approval from others stop you. The truth is that if you might miss this particular bus, you might be hurting yourself. And yes, another bus will surely come, but what if that bus isn’t headed in your direction? I advise you get on this bus (internet/social media) now and take over the driver’s seat.

In this article:
Sunmbo Adeoye
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