By Staff Reporter
African Women in Europe (AWE) held their first face-to-face conference on the May 21 2022 in the United Kingdom since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The engaging conference was held at Holiday Inn in Milton Keynes. Some of the keynote speakers were Hezeliya Kaudo, a lifetime coach, Caroline Mutoko, media proprietor and entrepreneur, and Virginia Chapman, a property investor and business coach.
AWE was founded in 2008 by Joy Zenz as a platform for African diaspora women to network in Germany only. As Jesus said in the book of Matthew, you can’t light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket, the network has grown to cover the whole of Europe, with chapters in many European countries. The key objectives of AWE include empowering African women, supporting upcoming and existing entrepreneurs, investing in Africa and to positively reflect the image of the African woman in Europe. Members of AWE come from many different countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa.
Lifetime coach Hezel spoke about personal development and vision. She highlighted the importance of setting SMART goals for you to achieve your vision. These goals must be specific: what is it that you want to achieve and why do you want to achieve that? They should be measurable or quantifiable. If a goal is measurable, it is easy to track your performance. The goal must be achievable; that means you need to set realistic goals. Our goals need to be relevant by aligning them to our long-term goals and there has to be timelines as well, she explained. She also elaborated that once you have set your goals you need to know what people and resources you require to achieve those goals. Creating milestones along the way helps you to evaluate whether you are achieving your goals or not.
Hezel also highlighted the importance of creating a daily schedule otherwise your life will schedule you, and that this daily schedule should reflect your goals. As a seasoned lifetime coach, she is aware that people get distracted along the way and get derailed from their goals. To help keep her momentum towards achieving her goals, Hezel finds prayer, meditation, affirmations/declarations and regular evaluation very helpful. Evaluation can be done weekly or monthly and it helps you to see what can be done differently.
Carloine Mutoko, a trail blazer and firebrand entrepreneur based in Nairobi, encouraged women to seek their new normal in the disruption caused by Covid-19. She reminded them that world they know before Covid-19 is long gone. She also highlighted the immense opportunities in Africa that are being missed by people in the diaspora. This why you have a lot of Chinese nationals coming to Africa to grab the huge business opportunities. Caroline also spoke passionately about planning ahead, especially when it comes to end of life expenses. Diaspora people have to move with the times and not rely on communal methods like “harambes” (contributions) when they lose their loved ones. She encouraged diasporas to get in contact with established companies like Diaspora Insurance to ensure that they and their families are securely protected.
A representative of Obaseki and Co-Solicitors, Vivian, spoke widely about resilience in the face of adversity. This was very timely, especially with the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. She emphasised the importance of people reaching out in the face of adversity; you are not alone. Vivian also highlighted why it is important to forgive yourself when you make a mistake; it is not important how you fall but how you get up. During the conference, Virginia Chapman also shared her inspirational story of how she progressed from a chamber maid in a London hotel to an owner of a multi-million pound property portfolio in the UK.
The event was sponsored by Diaspora Insurance, a global insurance company that focuses on the niche African diaspora communities. One of its key products, the bespoke Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan, allows diasporas to cover themselves and their families back home in Africa. Dr Sibert Mandega, Executive Director of Diaspora, commended African Women in Europe for organising such a powerful conference. He pointed out the importance of such platforms in the professional and personal development of the diaspora communities worldwide.
The conference was signed off by music and dance and a colourful African fashion show. Christine Mulwa, a young upcoming classic music artist, entertained the guests with her angelic voice in between the presenters. This was a wonderful conference, a harbinger to the Germany conference on June 25 2022.