Ajara Marie is a professional, business mogul and marketing executive with over 15 years of experience. She specializes in diaspora engagement and investment in Africa with a critical focus on women in business in Africa. She runs a boutique strategic communications agency that empowers African female entrepreneurs and individuals.
Ajara Marie helps her audience develop their brands and businesses to better position themselves for opportunities in their local and international markets. In addition to her career pursuit, she is a humanitarian working to change the lives of young people, especially girls in Africa.
As the CEO of an established agency, Ajara Marie aids clients in building out their dreams of entrepreneurship and sharing their branding stories to their targeted audiences; however, she, too, has encountered a few obstacles as an entrepreneur. PivotPath founder, Elizabeth M’balu Oke, asked Ajara Marie about the two most challenging aspects of business, especially as a female entrepreneur in Africa.
Starting and growing a business as a female entrepreneur in a developing country isn’t easy. There are many challenges we face daily in trying to start and grow our brands and businesses. Over the years I have learned that this is part of business.
Two main challenges that most of us face as business owners are
1. Accessing funding to develop our businesses and
2. Finding and building networks and mentors.Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business
1. Access to funding
As entrepreneur, trying to get funding for business is hard. But, as a woman we are often sidelined more than our male counterparts.
Either we [women] don’t have the right information as to where funds are available or know the different types of funding. Also, some of us don’t know how to develop investment-ready portfolios and pitches. In addition, some of us don’t know how to manage money so that affects how we look at funding opportunities.Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business
Yes, people feel there is money available for female entrepreneurs. However, when you don’t have collateral to apply for loans, or the interest rate is so high and can’t be lowered, there is not much option. [You just have to] to try and manage with what you have. [Unfortunately], sometimes [this] takes up most of your time and you are unable to work on other aspects of the business.Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business
2. Finding a Business Mentor
Mentoring and support networks are very important. As a business woman, it is imperative to have one or the other.
Business is about making decisions and choices that can help in making your business succeed or fail. Therefore, having an experienced mentor who has been down this path before can be helpful in keeping you from making some of the same mistakes they may have made.
Unlike our male counterparts, female entrepreneurs find it difficult to get the right mentors. It took me years to find successful female entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone/Africa that inspire me and were willing to work with me. Being part of networks and organizations that empower females who are in business has also been helpful. So, there are quite a few Facebook groups and local networks that I am a part of that have been helpful.Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business
We then asked Ajara Marie how she has strategically and successfully overcome these challenges using a form of marketing to reach your targeted audience(s).
Leveraging on my networks to build relationships and building my digital media footprints.
I’m a connector and meet with different people all the time. I often times get great leads but either forget to reconnect or foster relationships with these people that I meet. I believe life is about building relationships and harnessing out networks. You have to be intentional about building business relationships and sharing opportunities with others. By doing so, you build genuine relationships where everyone benefits. Collaboration is also key and can open door for you; it’s also a great way to get business leads.Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business
I’m also a behind the scene type of person, so I do a lot in the background and tend not to share much about my what I do with the general populous. However, a few years back I realize that people were interested in knowing what I was doing and were inspired about my work. With that, I took strategic steps in putting myself out there and sharing some tips, experiences and things that I have been doing to reach where I’m out.Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business
“I took advantage of sharing my story on my social media links, digital magazines, collaborating with other to host events and programs.”
In this day of technology, having a digital media footprint is necessary. It can serve as your CV and a way for you to inspire others. I am very big on mentoring and this is another way that I can use my space to mentor others as well. This has also given me the opportunity to connect with other powerful women doing great things across the world.Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business
Supporting small businesses and nonprofits is an act that acknowledges the tremendous risk and challenges that come from following your dream, pushing your creativity into a business, and starting your own your thing. PivotPath realizes these realities and serves as a median to alleviate these challenges by providing brand development, content management, and social media marketing services, customized to fit your specific budget. Contact us today for a free consultation on how we can help you discover your audience and connect them to your Story.