On the face of it, it’s very easy for those of us in the general population to write off the wealthy and privileged as “having it all”; our natural reaction is to assume that being born with the proverbial silver spoon in your mouth means you’re a dead cert for success in life. With all those investments in education, opportunities and connections, surely it’s an absolute cinch to become even richer and more powerful?
There’s a massive temptation to give into being resentful and negative towards those we perceive as having an unfair advantage and as a result this is one of the most controversial and divisive issues faced by women who’d normally be each other’s biggest supporters.
At WOWe, we pride ourselves on challenging stereotypes and assumptions about women in business, especially those that may hold them back. Many Nigerian women are well versed in the challenges facing under privileged women in entering the world of business and entrepreneurship, but our research showed a substantial gap in understanding of what it means to enter business from a wealthy background. This ignorance fuels bad feeling and division amongst what should be a strong, self-affirming sisterhood of Nigerian business women.
To help us start to understand, we reached out to some of the WOWe speakers to explain some of the potential downsides of being born into a privileged background. Nail Bar CEO and Bella Naija beauty columnist Ameera Abraham says “I personally feel it’s more difficult to come from a privileged background. It’s almost like because you were born privileged in Nigeria you are seen as being undeserving of your business. Apart from the ease of raising capital for the business you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself.”
This definitely resonates with our understanding of the resentment and negativity that can arise from the success of a privileged woman, but is there more to it?
We asked the lady who brought us Nigerian Idol, Chichi Nwoko to extrapolate: “One would be inclined to think that a woman born into superior social circumstances should have greater chances of successful career. However, I would hesitate to say that it is easier –this is despite the fact that being privileged gives one access to more opportunities and resources.
In my estimation, the key factor to success depends on the type of individual one aspires to be in terms of having the skills and intellect to harness inherited privileged circumstances into personal successes or, translating the same into a catalogue of hindrances to success. My position is that a combination of good education, perseverance and a woman’s resolve to harness the challenges of our society into opportunities would ultimately lead to her success, despite her family background.“
Chichi hit on a really interesting point, regarding the perseverance required to achieve the type of success you want to achieve. All Nigerian women face a possible conflict between the expectations of their families and what they want to achieve; this can be even more poignant in a privileged household. You can imagine being the woman coming from generations of distinguished lawyers who says “No, actually I don’t want that, I want to work in fashion.” And having to fight for something that your family consider frivolous or below what they expect.
Not all of our speakers saw a downside however, Afua Dabanka of cult fashion brand MO SAÏQUE said “I think it is an asset and wished more women would utilize it in the right way.” Celebrity makeup artists and cosmetics guru Eryca Freemantle agrees, “This is depends on what is meant by success, but on a whole I think the answer is yes, Nigeria and the rest of the world. I see it being an asset, never a hindrance. If used correctly and smartly you can get what you want and help others less privileged too.”
And here these women tap into a key message around this topic, yes being privileged has a lot of positives, yes you can expect some things to come a lot easier, however you are expected to take advantage of this, use it well and most importantly give back and share the advantages life has given you.
For the most part the problem is not that privileged women are unwilling to give back to the Nigerian female business community; rather that not everyone who could benefit from the experience, connections and opportunities provided by their circumstances is prepared to do so. In rejecting the friendship and support of our fellow women, we hold ourselves back.
The women who make up the WOWe speaker panel and advisory board come from a range of different backgrounds, but no one can deny that they are all now exceptionally successful. They are prepared to share everything they can with aspiring entrepreneurs and I can only hope that those who might previously have resented those who have more than they do will seize the chance to move forward and use the life experience of others to drive their business ventures to the next level.
Key benefits of attending WOWe Nigeria include:
• Insight from 25+ speakers on their entrepreneurial journey of success!
• Lessons learnt in business start-up and growth
• Expansion tips for internationalising your brand
• Best practise in entrepreneurship
• Success roadmap for building a world class African brand
• First-hand knowledge and experience from leading business women from all over the globe
Get tickets to the conference, 3 workshops and the exclusive cocktail dinner at the all-inclusive early bird rate N57,750 including VAT available until 9th May!
For further information please contact: Tori Abiola -> [email protected] or call +234 (0) 81 45999475 | +234 (0) 80 85978488. Please visit: www.wowenigeria.com