During the recent Africa Travel Summit powered by Airbnb, we were introduced to Afua Osei, the energic and flawless host for the event, but after some conversational deep diving, we learned some very interesting additional facts. Not only is Osei a phenomenal host, but she is also the co-founder of She Leads Africa, the No. 1 destination for young African women looking to build successful careers or businesses. This platform also claims to be the largest online community for African millennial women in the world.
During the summit, Black Enterprise caught up with the budding entrepreneur to find out how she got started, and how she grew her community to over half a million people.
BE: How did you get started with the company?
Osei: My first time in Lagos was in 2012 and I was an intern during business school. There was so much attention focused on how to get the right job and present yourself. When I spent my summer in Lagos, I realized that very few people have access to that kind of coaching. You hope that someone’s gonna hook you up, someone’s gonna take care of you, someone’s gonna help you navigate, but if you don’t know anyone, if you don’t have those ‘in’ connections, you literally are kind of navigating the professional space blind.
I wanted to create a platform that would help break through some of those challenges that people were facing and provide them with access to resources, access to information, and access to opportunities, but also doing so in a way that’s relevant to young women. Business and career don’t have to be boring or stuffy. It can be interesting but, it can be helpful as well.
BE: How big is the company currently?
Osei: Right now, we reach around 500,000 women all across the continent. We have a team in Nigeria and South Africa and we have hosted events in more than 10 countries. Additionally, we work with brands like Facebook, Samsung, Google, L’Oréal, and Estée Lauder, who are all our partners from a brand development or marketing perspective.
BE: How did you link up with Airbnb?
Osei: Two years ago, during Women’s History Month in South Africa in August, they wanted to shine a light on some of their hosts because so many of the hosts on the platform, particularly in South Africa are women. So really, it was just about showing them that, not only is this a great opportunity and a way to show culture but it’s a great business opportunity. That’s what we are all about, how do we help women find and use the resources that they have to really expand their economic impact. Since then, we’ve always been supportive about showing opportunities to monetize, showcasing the stories of some of the women that are on the platform, and so when they were planning the summit they reached out and we were happy to be involved.
BE: How did you scale so massively?
Osei: For us, it’s digital first. Doing events is really hard, traveling across the continent is really expensive, so we can’t always go from Joburg to Nairobi which is 700+ dollars; Joburg to Lagos is $800, it gets really expensive, so digital has always been first via email, via social media, via WhatsApp, so developing those connects online have been extremely important and then, of course, finding partners that help us expand.
To learn more about She Leads Africa and how you can get involved, click here.