Ebere Lisa is an Online Business Consultant helping fashion and lifestyle brands leverage digital media to build profitable and sustainable businesses. She spoke at the Represent (You, Your Brand & Social Media) session of the just concluded African Women In Technology (AWIT).
At the sideline of AWIT, innov8tiv had a little ‘e-sitdown’ with her, getting to know a little about her and professional life. To our readers, we present to you, Ebere Lisa:
Currently, in the African fashion industry, technology represents access to the global market. Tech is revolutionizing how businesses operate in all sectors, and the fashion industry is not left out.
While we are yet to explore artificial intelligence, blockchain and cryptocurrency, virtual reality, 3D garment production, and the internet of things. E-commerce, virtual payment systems, and social media have changed fashion retail.
According to McKinsey, there are more than 400 million internet users in Africa, which is the second-largest internet-user population on the planet, just after China. While the cost of internet subscription is still high, African consumers have embraced e-commerce.
E-commerce has provided a cheaper and safer way for businesses to grow as people no longer need to wait till they have physical stores to start their business.
Small and micro fashion businesses now build their store and market their products and services on e-commerce stores and social media, cutting their overhead cost. Social media also helps them reach a wider audience and engage their target market in real time, selling out their products and receiving payments across the globe. The e-commerce and social media from has helped overcome a barrier to doing business, and it makes me imagine just how much we can achieve when we fully utilize technology.
How long have you been exposed to the African tech field, and how has this influenced your knowledge of technological advancement in Africa?
I got exposed to the African tech field in 2016 when I started reading tech articles on Techpoint. Since then, I’m always on the lookout for the next tech trend and how it can be applied to create solutions for fashion entrepreneurs in Africa. Africa still has work to do in getting its countries to benefit from the dividends of technology but we cannot ignore the success we have achieved so far.
Also, Africa’s late arrival to the digital economy comes with some advantage; we benefit from the mistakes and advances already made by Silicon Valley, so we don’t have to waste resources.
What does professional branding mean to you?
Professional branding is simply having a professional identity. It covers your mission, purpose and the value you bring to your industry. And if you’re not defining your brand, best believe that others are definitely going to do it without your knowledge.
As an African woman in tech, what is the most significant challenge you have faced professionally?
Being a part of a minority group in a homogeneous space is a challenge. The most significant challenge I have faced is the gender bias. I have to explain my confidence and ability to speak up because someone thinks I’m bossy or I’m trying to be a man, while my male colleague is said to be expressing himself or just being a man. Also, I’m expected to be less competitive and less demanding in advancing my career and pursuing my goals.
I try to educate everyone who has this disposition and I have realized some of them are not even aware of their actions, and how it affects women and their contribution to the economy.
In your experience, how has strategic networking influenced your career?
Strategic networking has given me access to information, opportunities, relationships, and mentorship, which I couldn’t have accessed with just my skills or knowledge. Taking a strategic approach towards meeting people who I admire and building a relationship with them has helped me grow my self, my knowledge, and business.
I’ve learned that the best opportunities are usually under-advertised, a lot of them are not even advertised. Accessing such opportunities is a function of who you know. And they must know, like and trust you for you to be privy to that kind of information and/or be referred for the opportunity.
Strategic networking will get you known, the real work lies in building a relationship to make them like and trust you. Your knowledge/skill will give you attention, your network will give access. Both are required to achieve success.