If you’ve ever wanted to see black girl magic in action meet Afua Osei and Yasmin Belo-Osagie, the founders of She Leads Africa at the New York Stock Exchange. For an African women led startup, ringing the closing bell at the NYSE is a major global business move, especially for two young girl bosses who initially launched SLA in Nigeria.
With a passion to empower young African women, She Leads Africa began as a social enterprise dedicated to supporting African women throughout their their career. Along with actionable resources and engaging content, SLA provides a 6-month accelerator program, host networking events, pitch competitions and boot camps, and offers a series of career guides and worksheets to support young women.
To gather some highlights about SLA’s journey, we caught up with the trailblazing duo for an interview.
You launched your platform about 3 years ago, what are your top 3 accomplishments since launching SLA?
- Grew our community to 200,000 women strong across more than 30 countries and 5 continents
Collaborating with global companies like Facebook, Huawei, Guaranty Trust Bank and Intel to help them connect to smart and ambitious African women
- Hosted learning and professional development bootcamps in 6 countries across 3 continents in 2016
Today, is your big day a the NYSE. How did you get the opportunity to close the bell at the New York Stock Exchange? What does this mean for SLA?
The New York Stock Exchange team actually reached out to us and presented this great opportunity. The events team stated that while they typically only allow listed companies to ring the bell, they occasionally have the opportunity for organizations in the community to participate as well.
We believe that we are the first African women led startup to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange so it is truly a great privilege. It’s fantastic to know that we are building a company that is seen as top tier not just in Nigeria or West Africa, but on a global stage as well.
What factors have allowed you to build a brand that is recognized in the US and throughout Africa?
We’re a 21st century digital media company – we create engaging digital content and learning events that are relevant for modern day millennial Africans. On our website you can learn how to start a business, launch your career and improve your skills. You can learn and gain inspiration from more than 50 African women from diverse fields such as agriculture to mining to fashion and transportation via the entrepreneur spotlights we publish on our website. If you want advice from an expert our weekly twitter chats, Facebook q&as and webinars give women in our community direct access to global business leaders. We democratize access to the information, resources and networks that typically are only available to some.
We didn’t plan to build a company, we just wanted to show the world that there are amazing young African women building cool things. Now we have a mission to create a media platform that encourages, informs and uplifts African women and helps activate them into agents of change for their communities, countries and continent.
The New Year is quickly approaching. What plans do you have to continue to positively change the conversation about African women?
We’re planning to reach even more women in 2017 through our digital community. There are millions of women who could benefit from our services and we are going to be laser focused on growing and connecting with these young women wherever they are.
We’ll be introducing new short form web series’ and podcasts to show the unique, inspiring and educational stories of African women across the continent and diaspora.
We’re also going to kick off our first festival concept to provide a larger platform to put African women
at the center of culture, innovation and technology. The SLAY Festival is going to be the first of it’s kind in Africa and we look forward to building this into a must attend experience for women across the continent.