A few months into the global lockdowns in 2020, reports began to emerge that working women were getting the shorter end of the stick as the task of taking care of their children’s education and family’s wellbeing fell on them. Slowly, the world is reopening, but the challenges to women from the pandemic continue. This is what inspired this year’s Bold Conversations by Veuve Cliquot in Lagos, the first time this global event will be taking place in Nigeria.
Veuve Cliquot is a brand that is rooted in trailblazing courage: founded by Barbe-Nicole Clicquot in the 19th century, it is the first premium champagne brand to be led by a woman. One who was widowed at the young age of 27 and thus devoid of a male guide as was common at the time. In her honour, the brand created an award in 1972 to celebrate female leaders who possess and exhibit this same audacity and tenacity.
It has since evolved into the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award that also features Bold Conversations, an event that promotes dialogue from top female leaders in every sector on topical issues concerning women.
It was perhaps in the spirit of this audacity and profound courage the event seeks to promote that the inaugural edition of Bold Conversations held at the Ebony Life Place in Victoria Island, Lagos, on the 23rd of September 2021. Ebony Life place – owned by bold woman, Mo Abudu – officially opened in 2019 after three years of planning and scaling hurdles as she explained at the event.
In the audience was an array of several bold women comprising female founders & executives across various disciplines such as Ana Boix, Colette Otusheso, Stephanie Busari, Chinwe Egwim, Linda Sodeinde, Deborah Nicol-Omeruah, Adaeze Yobo, Nicole Chikwe, Ashim Egunjobi, Adaku Ijara, Ore Runsewe, Teni Sagoe, Vanessa Azar, Tania Omotayo amongst others.
The program started with a virtual welcome address from the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer, Carole Bildé, and an opening speech from the General Manager of Moët Hennessy Nigeria, Sebastien Choeun. It then transitioned quickly into a 3-part conversation based on the findings gleaned from a Barometer study the brand had carried out earlier and was moderated by host, Michelle Dede.
The first part – Do Women In Business Need To Adopt Specific Behaviors To Succeed? – featured Andrew Alli, Group CEO, Southbridge Group; Mo Abudu, CEO Ebony Life Group, and, Temi Marcella Awogboro, Executive Director, Evercare Hospital.
The key issue tackled in this session was a response from the barometer study which revealed that 54 per cent of Nigerian women believe that they must act more like men to succeed as entrepreneurs while 51 per cent of Nigerian women believe they must show more authority than their male counterparts to succeed professionally.
Both Michelle and Andrew agreed that it is a valid belief, but the narrative needs to change. As Mr Alli said: “As both men and women, it is incumbent for us to change the narrative that women cannot embrace their authentic selves to succeed in business. Do not become a different person because you feel that is what you need to succeed.”
The topic of the second discussion was Navigating Female Entrepreneurship In A Post Covid World- Closing The Gap and it featured Olatowun Candide-Johnson, Founder GAIA AFRICA; Nkemdilim Uwaje-Begho, Managing Director, Future Software Resources, and, Adenrele Sonariwo, Founder, Rele Art Gallery who shared their key business learnings during the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, the study found out that more than 90 per cent of Nigerian men and women believe that mentors are important for female entrepreneurs. In a surprising twist of events, all three panelists debunked this idea, stating that it is better for female entrepreneurs to be surrounded by a strong and viable network of their peers. Even more interesting was that the audience agreed.
The Visible And Unseen Barriers For Female Entrepreneurship, the final discussion of the evening, was tackled by Tosin Oshinowo, CEO, cm-Design Atelier, Oyinade Osobajo, Head of Marketing, Moove Africa, and Eloho Omame, Co-Founder, FirstCheck Africa who addressed gender-based barriers and how to handle them.
Speaking on her experience, Oyinade Osobajo said, “Juggling marriage and work is a continuous effort. You need to know that challenges will come, so get your resources ready. Just go for it, don’t overthink it”
The inaugural edition of Bold Conversations by Veuve Clicquot in Nigeria provided an opportunity for women to engage, network, discuss and proffer solutions on the state of female entrepreneurship in Nigeria. As Bildé stated in her opening address, “(The) Bold by Veuve Clicquot program is so important – because it gives visibility and a voice to those female entrepreneurs who need it. Today more than ever. And everywhere in the world”
To access the panel discussions as well as the barometer study on the state of female entrepreneurship in Nigeria, sign up here.