Interview by Visual Collaborative
May 2020 8 min read
Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti is an Author, Entrepreneur, and Young Global Leader with over a decade of management and leadership experience working in the fashion, marketing, and manufacturing industries. She is also the founder of AGS Tribe, a Pan-African community project encouraging young entrepreneurs and professionals. As one of the features in our Oxygen interview series, Ifedayo shares her perspective on navigating the work world and gives some insights about her background on the African continent.
(VC) As a managing partner of AGS Tribe, which commands the fellowship of many women, what does self-awareness mean to you, and how does it shape your role in that ecosystem?
(Ifedayo) From a very young age, I always knew what my strengths were and what my weaknesses were. I remember my mum telling me that I had so many friends at the time, and I responded to her saying; many new friends came naturally to me, I always knew I had a very strong sense of self in terms of being independent. From my early days at University, I worked almost every summer even when I traveled on holiday. This came from an understanding that I wanted to have my own income and not be overly dependent on my parent. I thought this was the norm until I started interacting with other friends. I had one of my friend’s big sister tell me she collected money from her parents to make her hair. I was honestly confused because I could not imagine having that conversation with my parents, not that they wouldn’t give me, but I thought I had passed that phase, but this lady was about five years older.
Many women grow up with this mindset to be dependent on their people for everything. Our culture also promotes this because, from a very young age, there’s a preference to invest more in the male child. As the leader of our community, I come with this message that it is important for
women to be empowered socioeconomically, and because I have been able to do this to a certain extent, it is easier to show other women how they can be empowered. There are many things I cannot do, but there are many things that I can do, I try to work with my strengths and outsource
my weaknesses to the best of my ability and just being able to identify these weaknesses has been a significant break in growing the AGS Tribe community.
Other core values we live by respect for each other and collaborate. We cannot do anything on our own, but when we women come together, we will make magic
(VC) A perfect world does not exist and subjective at best, but if one did, what core values would Ife make a staple in her immediate community?
(Ifedayo) One of the values I live by is never to give up, and since the late Kobe Bryant died, I have infused the “Mamba Mentality” into the DNA of our community, and I don’t just tell them, I show them with my actions. For example, I had been applying for the Prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship, but I never got selected. I continued applying year on year, and on the third time, I got selected for the Fellowship. This goes to show that you should never give up and like Kobe said, the minute you give up is the minute you let someone else win, so we have the spirit of tenacity, and we strive to get better at whatever we are doing every day. Other core values we live by respect for each other and collaborate. We cannot do anything on our own, but when we women come together, we will make magic.
(VC) An MBA is like your corporate street credibility in partnerships, how do you engage self-taught entrepreneurs who command serious market numbers, especially in your climate of older academic traditions in a world that has changed?
(Ifedayo) I think educational qualifications in the entrepreneurship world is overrated. I did my MBA a very long time ago, which I am happy about, but I think I prefer street credibility from the actual streets, Experience’, nothing beats experience. While I think continuous learning is important, hands-on experience is more important and right now, to be honest, I’d like to go to Harvard University but not just because it is the best University in the world but because of the powerful network, which in my opinion tops any MBA.
Photo courtesy AGS Tribe
(VC) In the present world of competitive microaggressions, please tell us about your own experiences navigating this the business world as a woman, how this may relate?
(Ifedayo) [Ifedayo Laughs]. I always say that the streets are red. It has been tough navigating the entrepreneurship world in Nigeria, but I would say this has been because I am a woman. It is generally tough, whether male or female. My first week in entrepreneurship full time was a nightmare. Our mini-factory got robbed. So our laptops got stolen with critical information, amongst other things. I just sat in my chair and said, “Welcome to entrepreneurship.” We had prepared for every other difficulty, but we never saw this coming. However, being a woman in business in Africa has its perks. There are many grants and global opportunities focused on women these days, so it has been a thrill tapping into some of these opportunities and showing other women that they can. I understand that sometimes things may be aggressive, and it may come off as if everyone wants a piece of your pie, but we all have to work and hustle until we hit that breakthrough. I believe that the sky is big enough for us all to fly, but I’m also a firm believer in bringing your juice to the table. Do not be a copy cat. Nothing is new under the sun, but bring your twist to whatever you try to do.
(VC) Some mention different historical times as a period they admire for affluence or culture If you can time-warp to any era to collaborate with its culture, what time would it be and why?
(Ifedayo) I am very modern about everything I do, and I am extremely honored to be born in these times because back in the way, women were overlooked, and many of the ones who escaped the hands of oppressors had to fight very hard to be seen. I would have been very frustrated too if I was born back in the day, however, if I was to choose an era, it will be the early 1900’s where people like Jeanette Rankin, an activist who was the first woman to be elected into Congress as a Member of the House of Representatives. I would have loved to see how this happened, understand the strategies put in place for this to happen, and even been part of the campaign team. Many other women inspire me from that era. It was a time when more women began to speak up.
I am totally convinced that my purpose is to help more women become financially independent and empowered but it will be difficult to achieve real change if we do not have women at the table creating policies
(VC) At this stage of your career considering your commitments and accomplishments, if you could collaborate with a specific enterprise, or individual over the next 24 months, who would it be and why?
(Ifedayo) Duchess of Sussex (formerly known as Meghan Markle). I have loved her for a very long time because we have very similar interests. I loved her from the time I read the story of how she handled an ad for one of Procter & Gamble’s products, Ivory Soap, which led to them changing the ad when she was only 11 years old. She didn’t just reach out to the organization. She also ensured that her voice was heard, and this is the kind of confidence I’d like every woman to have. We need to unapologetic, and we need to be able to fight for what we want. Since then, I have followed her journey and have been a huge fan of her work, empowering women. I noticed that she was named the new Royal Patron for a charity that provides support for women struggling with unemployment. My platform aims to connect women and to business/career opportunities so they can be empowered socio-economically. I hope we can work on a program that provides business opportunities for women of African descent.
Photo courtesy AGS Tribe
(VC) Is there anything else you would like to share with our global audience, perhaps some small detail people do not know about you?
(Ifedayo) I am totally convinced that my purpose is to help more women become financially independent and empowered but it will be difficult to achieve real change if we do not have women at the table creating policies that will be of benefit to women. I’m currently working in my own capacity within my own sphere and I am already creating my own table. I hope more women join me. We have work to do.