Aisha Shuaibu is a black girl magic!
It’s Women’s History Month all around the world. Events are kicking off across companies, government bodies and organisations to celebrate women for their incredible achievements and most importantly for the journey so far.
We have decided to dedicate the month of March to African trailblazers, ordinary people doing extraordinary things and change makers in their field. In the past few years, a new archetype of what it means to be a modern businesswoman has emerged and we couldn’t be more pumped. In this digital age, where marketing ourselves is just a click away, more and more ladies are rising from the throes of dreamland and becoming mini moguls. This month’s spotlight embodies everything that inspired me to create this series…
Aisha Shuaibu, a 25 yrs old Nigerian media consultant and founder of Waffle Stop. She found an opportunity in the market to create a one-stop-shop for all things waffle. We got Aisha to share her inspiring journey of developing a business in a challenging economy and her oh-so-relatable thoughts on where we are with gender talks in Nigeria and Africa as whole.
Tell us about yourself, including what you do and how you got there?
My name is Aisha Shuaibu, I’m 25 years old. I am an entrepreneur and currently work as a media consultant as well. I own a confectionary foods business called Waffle Stop and we have just opened up 2 cafe branches after running the business from home for nearly a year. The idea for Waffle Stop came from my time in Istanbul when I was studying for my Masters Degree. I became aware of the opportunity back home to run a business focused on waffles alone, which wasn’t common in Abuja. I then presented the idea in my classroom as a project and received a lot of useful feedback from my professor. With the help of my business partner, we were able to turn the idea to reality and Waffle Stop kicked off on March 12th 2016.
How did you get started in business?
I have always had a zeal for the development of new business ideas. I guess I love being responsible for great things coming to shape but more than anything I love to see them executed properly and actually working. I also studied Business for both my Undergrad and Masters so it was a given that I settle into the field.
What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
Having the freedom to take risks and it working in your favour. Nothing feels better than independently making the right call. I can’t say the reverse of that feels as good though but I take pride in learning from my mistakes.
What skills would you say have helped you sustain in business
Patience and endurance. I don’t believe I’ve experienced anything harder than running a small business (in Nigeria). Last year, I was still trying to figure a lot of things out and how to keep afloat in a crippling economy. There were days when simple issues like power or logistics made waking up and dealing with it all very very hard. But we kept going regardless. You can’t buy patience. You can only learn it…. and once you do, you must practice the art till you’re a pro.
Aisha, were you brought up to believe ambition was important?
I grew up in a political household that kept both parents quite busy. My father ruled 2 states, while my mother was involved in several humanitarian projects. Witnessing all that made me desire a busy life of positive impact and also grow up with the hunger to inspire those around me. I have always wanted to do what stood out with no restrictions. However, I am an ambitious realist. I dream incredibly big with a very conscience mind-set to know how much I have to do to make them come true.
To what do you attribute your success in realising your ambition?
Its difficult to measure progress as you work but I’d like to believe the more results I see, the closer I get to my goals. When I’m content enough, I’ll let my business run itself and move on to another passion. Success is a relative term when every day above ground is a reason to be grateful.
To go back to the theme of the month – Women’s history month. What do you want everyone to know on International Women’s Day?
The world must always acknowledge the importance of a woman to every single community. A woman with heart is like a fast train en route; if you’re not with it then get out of its way. At the same time, a strong woman is a source of drive, compassion and love. International Women’s Day celebrates everything we love about ourselves and the impact a woman is capable of making in the world, no matter what she chooses to do. As women, we must believe in our greatness and empower each other frequently.
How would you define women empowerment?
Societies are likely to collectively succeed if we all came together to build each other up. Women empowerment is about developing creative ways of encouraging, motivating and inspiring the women around us (ourselves included) to aim high and do better. Regardless of what a woman’s goal is in life, she must believe that she is capable before she is able to achieve. Empowering women is raising the voices of those who didn’t believe they could be heard, and use that of those loud enough to make positive impacts.
What is the most crucial issue to tackle in Nigeria and the world if you wish, in regards to gender?
Creating a balance between what women deserve to be permitted to do, in accordance to human rights and what is required for them to do. I don’t believe equality could ever be one of the solutions to world peace but women need to be given the opportunity to rise in government and other sectors. Nigerian cultures demean women and dismiss the idea of them having a voice and that must change for the issue to ease up. Generally, we have a mentality crisis that is deep-rooted and cannot disappear overnight.
As a young Nigerian woman, what’s your stance on gender barriers?
I don’t welcome the idea of being limited because of gender. The world is tainted in that sense because women continue to be critiqued and discriminated against for being ambitious and breaking out of the norm. As a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to be disassociated from individuals and gatherings that made me feel incapable or locked in a box. There is no greater feeling than rising above expectations because what’s normal anyway?
If you were to have dinner with 2 women you admire in the world, who would they be?
Amina J Mohammed and Angelina Jolie.
Let’s relax a bit – What do you do in your spare time?
Lately, all I’ve had time for is work because my business is at a very sensitive time. However, on some days, I force a social life and spend time with friends at private places with great music. I love to cook as well but I mostly do that when I travel and have nice comfortable kitchen to work in.
What are the traits you value most in people?
A strong intellect and a good sense of humour. My favourite people in the world are some of the smartest I’ve ever known and being around them always adds value to my life, knowingly or not. People of strong faith are good company as well cause they’re fearless. I mean, if you can kneel before God you can stand by any man, right?
Name 2 great organisations you admire, why? and what do they do?
I have always admired the works of the United Nations and what they do for the world. Nothing is as important as putting humanity first. The Clinton Foundation is another for their ability to set up worldwide, create employment opportunities and establish initiatives that solve existing issues in developing nations.
In the end, when you want to look back at life, what are the main things you want to be remembered for?
For putting the interest of the youth first. When Nigeria starts to really invest in the ideas of young people, that is when true change will begin to take course. Our generation is underestimated but those in doubt are just as responsible for how we turn out as we are.
As you know The GlowingColours.com loves African change makers who make impact in the society, what advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business one day?
You know how successful people always say things like “nothing is impossible” and “keep your head up” in their books and interviews POST success? I always hated that. I would think, “easy for you to say, you’re worth millions” but trust me when I say, your mentality is your problem. Wake up and believe you are moving and you will move. Make small changes that lead to big ones that translate to huge impacts. One day you will just wake up and realise you are 110% responsible for every decision you make and that is when the real work starts.
Who would you like to see me interview for my next on The GlowingColours.com?
Samira Sanusi. She’s an author and a strong advocate for Sickle Cell Anemia. She is a warrior and personally inspires me to what to do more for the cause and the world in general. She has great things coming to her.
Got a question for Aisha Shuaibu? Drop them in the comment below