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The only way to scale, grow your business is to embrace technology as an enabler – Yetty Williams

Founder Lagos Mums and Digital Media Marketing Consultant, Yetty Williams is passionate about helping businesses particularly women owned enterprise leverage technology thrive and scale up.  In this interview with Modestus Anaesoronye,  the  Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Mathematics holder from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA strategy and finance holder from the Yale School of Management, USA shares her knowledge, experience and expertise on how businesses could leverage available opportunities to thrive. Excerpt:

As the founder of Lagos Mums and Digital media marketing consultant with over 20 years working experience, what’s been the best thing about your journey so far?

The best thing about the journey so far is seeing my passion and purpose come together in such a beautiful way. As an entrepreneur, one of the most fulfilling things is to be able to make an impact and provide value at the same time. When it comes to the benefits of using digital media to grow my business and connect with thousands of people online, I am aware that the benefits of technology when used the right way are almost immeasurable. When I started LagosMums as a new mum with two young children, it was because I realized that there was a world available online to give me information and access to other parents. As a new mum and a google warrior, I realized that there were gaps in the information available for a parent in Lagos and Nigeria. As a person who believes in trying things, I decided to start an online forum to connect mums so we could support each other and answer questions about motherhood and parenting. This was in 2011, Instagram was not even born yet, but yet I found that people were connecting online. As we continued to grow and connect mums to each other, my passion grew into a sense of purpose. I realized that this was a real need and mothers wanted to connect with each other. Digital media became the enabler to connect parents in a way that was not readily available before. 

When you started out with your brand, you were coming into the industry armed with an MBA degree (Finance and Strategy) from the Yale School of Management and Strategic Digital Marketing from the University of Cambridge and Upgrad. How did the Nigerian space respond to your innovations? What were the hurdles you had to overcome?

When I started LagosMums it was a complete hobby and in fact, was started while I was a stay at home with my toddler and new baby. I call my journey with LagosMums, my 3 P’s from Passion, to purpose to profit. It was initially just a passion to connect mothers with each other to get advice and information on parenting and also to provide information that was relevant to parents in Lagos and Nigeria. Simple things like where to find a brand of food, school recommendations or how to hire staff were being answered. following this passion, it led to my purpose where I realised this was not just a hobby, but something that I loved to do and was fulfilling to me. I loved to connect parents and to be a source of information. 

The third P, profit came into play when an agency for a Multinational got in touch with me to write for them on my blog and to review a product that they had for mothers in Nigeria. This particular company had been following my activities online and on social media and believed in our message and knew we had a good community. This was the first time I realised that this passion and purpose could be monetised. I could say that this was when I brought all my past experiences both from my professional and educational degree as an MBA holder together to create a business structure. After seeing the growth of the company, and the possibilities available from building a business 99 percent online, I realised there was a real opportunity to use technology and digital media to grow and scale. As the first Nigerian blog dedicated to parents, we had a head start and have stayed committed to our audience and mission. As a lifelong learner i kept growing and learning adding more expertise to my arsenal of skills. 

It was after running by business for years that I decided to get a degree in strategic digital media marketing to gain even more skills and expertise. I know digital media marketing works and it was important for me to learn even more and become an expert in this field. 

My unique mix of practical experience, educational exposure and willingness to continue to learn and grow has positioned my brand to continue to be a trusted go-to destination for parents and businesses.

As a successful woman techpreneur in Africa, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing women in the sector? 

What I have seen with over 20 years of professional experience and over 10 years in the digital media space is that women are generally hesitant to embrace new innovations and technology. Some of the reasons for the hesitation are when women believe that they do not understand technology or digital media and so cannot use it. Being a certified life coach and neuro-linguistics practitioner, I understand that if you have limiting beliefs it can be difficult to grow, or embrace new tools and innovations. In general, I advise all business owners to make digital part of their business strategy. You cannot afford to separate it because the only way to scale, grow your business is to embrace technology as an enabler. As a techpreneur, I also understand that confidence comes from stepping out, trying new tools and learning along the way. A sound digital media strategy ensures that you can scale exponentially, and take control of the growth in your business. 

LagosMums was selected as the program partner with the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria to implement the POWER program in Nigeria, West Africa. What do you think you did right that led to this? 

I believe in the power of networking and finding ways to discuss topics that are important. Because I believe in abundance and that opportunity is always available I operate as such. During a networking event, I mentioned to members of the economic team from the US consulate about empowerment and growth for women-owned businesses. I shared that I truly believe that more women-led businesses should see technology as an enabler to grow their business and to scale. It turned out that the POWER initiative was just being put together at that time, and I was invited to submit a proposal on how I think technology could be used as an enabler for growth for women. I immediately saw this as a great opportunity, put my best foot forward, worked on the proposal and submitted it. Many times we need to ensure that we are positioned to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. 

When did you first start working on this initiative and what prompted you to partner with the US Consulate in Lagos and the POWER initiative.

Over my years as a social entrepreneur and working with many women, especially mothers through my work as the founder of LagosMums and as the lead consultant at Slay with Digital, my digital media marketing consultancy. I realized that women need to embrace technology and digital media marketing tools to grow their business. In essence, I am a self-taught techpreneur as I learnt while running my business. However, over the years, there are many strategies that I have learnt work, I also understand how women think and I can empathise on what can hold you back. Because I have been there, and I am there, I can help women scale this hurdle when it comes to finding the right way to use technology to grow. The truth is that passion and purpose take you further than you can imagine, I am always talking about sound parenting and embracing digital tools. This was something that piqued the interest of the US consulate in Lagos and they believed I would be a good partner for the POWER initiative. What I tell everyone is to embrace being uniquely you, you might not always know where it is headed, but be open and keep being consistent. Many years ago at the beginning of my Business, I understood very clearly that provision comes after obedience. If God lays something on your heart, there is a reason, so do your best and step out in faith, do the work and keep improving.

Access to the internet and the explosion in social media is one of the best things to happen to small businesses in Africa. How will Technology as an Enabler for growth help women, in terms of giving them access to business opportunities and sustainability? Will this scheme impact their long-term growth?

The addressable market for any business is not thousands but billions! Thanks to the connectivity and possibilities with technology and digital media channels. In fact, recently  I saw a report that said that more than half of the world population is now online. The current pandemic has exponentially increased the number of people who are online and using various social media platforms. The opportunities are immense and it is so critical for all business owners to tap into the possibilities for their business. 

It is not only about surviving but about thriving as a business, no matter the industry you are in. However, to ensure that your business does scale and is sustainable you need to understand your customers, understand their habits and understand how to use technology and various digital media platforms to connect with them. Many people know they should be using technology to work smarter and scale, but the question is how. 

The POWER initiative in partnership with the LagosMums academy will ensure that the women who go through this program will be equipped with the how. Over the years through my platforms LagosMums and my digital media marketing consultancy, I have run specific digital skills training for over several women lead businesses and they always share testimonials about how they were able to scale their business because they understand how to implement these tools in their business. When a woman is empowered with information in an enabling environment she is better equipped to implement the knowledge. 

Women learn differently, they appreciate concepts being explained simply and it is helpful when they have people in their communities who have either grown through this path before or who are also on the journey at the same time. 

It has been disclosed that Google would be a part of this initiative. Can you shed more light on their role and involvement? 

Yes, Google is focused on helping small businesses to grow and as such are supporting LagosMums and the POWER Initiative. They will be providing in-depth training and access to variety of Google tools that are available for businesses to grow and scale. 

“We’re glad to be supporting the LagosMums academy for entrepreneurs through the POWER initiative. Small businesses are the lifeline of many African countries, including Nigeria. Beyond contributing to the country’s GDP, they provide jobs and a means of livelihood to many young people. Through this platform, we will be able to provide much-needed training to help these entrepreneurs develop the skill they need; to take advantage of ours and other online tools to connect, grow and build wealth.” – Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, head of Brand and Reputation, Sub-saharan Africa at Google

This initiative program will select 100 female entrepreneurs across Nigeria to scale their businesses through the LagosMums Academy. Who are those eligible and what are the criteria for those who would be selected? 

To be eligible you need to be a female business owner from Nigeria, have a business that is registered and is at least 3 years old. You need to be able to articulate that you are ready to grow your business using technology. To confirm your eligibility and to apply you can visit lagosmums.com/POWER 

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs to help them navigate through the present economic terrain? 

COVID19 has affected all businesses around the world, my advice is for businesses to re-strategize and to pay attention to the changes that have occurred. Initially at the beginning of the pandemic the focus was on preservation and managing costs. Now businesses need to be focused on growth, opportunities and to identify the areas to pivot. In the midst of a crisis there is always an opportunity for growth, all business owners need to do an honest assessment, understand where their business is and understand what their customers need at this time. Every business needs a short, mid and long term strategy as well as ensuring that technology and digital media is a critical part of their strategy.

Who is Yetty Williams

Yetty Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA strategy and finance from the Yale School of Management, USA. She has an executive degree in Digital Media Marketing from the University of Cambridge.

She has over 15 years working experience which spans financial services, real estate consulting. She started her career in Bloomberg Financial Markets and has also worked at Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo), Shell, Persianas, Lafarge, and Union Bank.

She is the founder of LagosMums, the first Nigerian blog dedicated to Mums, parents, and caregivers. She believes that parenting should be a mindful and collaborative process. LagosMums mission is to be family life and parenting resource for mums, parents, and caregivers, it takes an e-village to raise a child in the 21st Century.

As a social entrepreneur, she brings her experiences to the field of Digital Media. Some of her clients include P&G, Kimberly Clark, Nivea, AXA Mansard, several SME’s and schools. She is a certified Life Coach and Neuro-linguistic Practitioner. As a speaker, she has been invited to speak several times on Parenting, work-life balance, digital media, and entrepreneurship. She is a guest on the Parenting Today show on LagosTalks 91.3 FM on Thursdays at 12.30pm where she delves into various parenting topics.

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