Leadership In Africa: Are You Leading A Purpose-Driven Life?

People can spend their entire lives in search for purpose.  We understandably seek it in family, education, work that engages us.  But sometimes that is not enough and some of us fall into a rut of the continuous grasping for power and prestige items like fast cars and McMansions that we think will satiate us and give our life purpose. 

But the externals often fail to offer the balm we seek. 

Architect, entrepreneur and designated one of Africa’s top 10 women in business by AFK InsiderOlajumoke Adenowo, Founder and Principal Partner, AD Consulting and Awesome Treasuresseems to have struck the creative balance of a purpose-driven life that includes prestige, creativity but most important, meaning.

One of the youngest board-certified architects in the history of Nigeria, Adenowo designed the Nigerian Federal Treasury buildiing in her early 20’s, an historic achievement for anyone her age.  With well over 70 buildings in her portfolio, Adenowo, and her company, AD Consulting, are Nigeria’s preeminent architectural destination.  

For most people, that accomplishment, and raising her two sons with her husband, would be plenty.  But the deeply religious Adenowo felt a calling to “pay it forward” and support the next generation of Africa’s leaders.  Awesome Treasures, a non-governmental organization she founded almost 20 years ago, helps people, through social justice programs, realize their special talents and deploy it to the benefit their communities.  

Adenow’s intelligence, wit and passion are an inspiration to anyone who comes into her orbit.  Her mission to make an impact, not just in Nigeria, but the African continent, is an example to anyone who cares about the world. 

In the Financial Times article, Ten Years Out, a projection on key global trends that will impact business over the next 10 years, they report, The population of Africa, is currently around 1.2bn but is projected to reach nearly 1.6bn in 10 years and to more than double to over 2.5bn by 2050, according to UN data.

By contrast, Europe’s population, currently about 740m, is expected to remain stable. The median age of Africans is about 20 years, according to UN data, whereas the EU estimates the median age of its citizens is about 43.”

Adenowo compares what is happening in Africa to America’s expansion in the last half of the nineteenth century during the development of the “Wild West.”  There is a window of opportunity that is open and will never happen again, she says.  Infrastructure, venture capital and other industries are ripe for development.  If a person has the fortitude to navigate the corruption and “old boys network” in most countries, and has the curiousity, now is the time to explore and invest in Africa.  As Adenowo says in the video segment “Starting Out In Africa,” “It’s time to circle the wagons, guys.”

Key Highlights:

  1. “Men have been ruling, not leading, for 50 years. They have had their say and it hasn’t done much. We need to come to the table to make things happen because we lose if the continent does not function.” (Video: How Do We Empower African Women?).
  2. “It’s someone’s role to provide water; the government.  They are not doing it. So everyone is an entrepreneur.  Stepping into that gap to make sure it works.” (Video: Investment Opportunities in Africa).
  3. “I can be self aware. I can step outside from myself and consider what I do and decide to make a difference. I may need help, but I must have the common sense to ask for that help and make a change.” (Video: Creating A Purpose-Driven Life).

Useful Resources:

Private Equity in Africa Can Drive Gender Equality

Agriculture Is the Key To A Prosperous Africa

Nigeria’s booming startup scene draws foreign investment

Why Women Shouldn’t Have To Justify A Seat At The Table

Dreamers and Doers: Seven Nigerian-American Women in Tech Trailblazers

Female Leaders Boost the Bottom Line

Special thanks to Columbia Business School, MIT Solve, Regina Resnick, Mark Horney and Elizabeth Sachs

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