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Friday, 3 November 2017

THERE'S A LOT MORE TO A WOMAN THAN HER OUTER APPAREL

-Mrs Mercy Makinde 


Mrs. Mercy Makinde is a woman of many parts. And one that is full of great energy. She runs a vibrant travel agency and at the same time, she is in the educational sector, agricultural sector and at the same time funds small medium businesses.
 
A woman who claims she has seen virtually it all, yet she is youthful, ready to learn and ready to teach. In between her advocacy work for women around the country, she organises platforms to enlighten and empower women.

In this interview with Paul Ukpabio, Mercy Makinde tells us what inspires her, and the determination that keeps her thoughts active, and her mission in life.     

You are the CEO Iaspire internet radio. What motivated you to start an internet radio? 

It was the desire to do something different. Iaspire is not just another internet radio but the first motivational radio station in this part of the world. Most online radio before Iaspire Radio didn't do talk and live transmission of programmes. They played music like Ipods. We did talk and again not news, life style or anyhting else any station was doing, but we designed programmes targetted at motivating and inspiring people. The radio station is like an online seminar on the go.

How has the journey been? 

It has been tough because media buyers aren’t very receptive to this medium. Little or no part of their budget goes to this aspect of the media. Yet online radio is the future of radio. Online radio gives you wider reach as it is accessible by a global audience and you can listen conveniently from your device anywhere, anytime!

What has the challenges been like?

A major challenge is the reception of the general public to online radio because of the erroneous perception that it consumes a lot of data. Unkown to them, their facebook/ instagram videos and snapchat takes much more data than the online radio, which thrives on the loss-less audio file compression technology. That way it consumes very little data.

Which came first, the radio or the travel business? 

My Travel Agency came first. 

And how has these two businesses of yours interrelated? 

They aren't exactly inter related. They exist on thier own.

Where do you get the most pressures and why? 

That is from the Agency of course because of how erratic certain passengers can get sometimes. They want to purchase on credit and when you don't oblige they get upset. But when they have money to buy, they buy online and don't remember you! They make mistakes on the spelling of their names, travel dates, routes and all and you take the blame. The pressure of the agency is really a lot I must confess!

If you are to describe yourself what would you say? 

I am a woman who has been through it all. I have seen most if not all sides to life and I live my life teaching other women life lessons I have learnt and inspiring them never to give up.

You are the MD/CEO of Crested Crane Tours and Travels, a renowned travel agency affiliated to Radius Travel Group, one of the world’ leading Travel Management Companies, how did you achieve this feat?

I see myself as not just a Nigerian woman but a global citizen. So I strive for global practices in all I do. So international affiliations is often the base of what I do. Just like Iaspire Radio is affiliated with two radio stations in the UK.

What has your experience been, are Africans endeared to tourism? 

We are embracing the culture. But for the level of poverty, it is something a lot of Africans would embrace. Check out the airport and aircraft during the peak season like summer and Xmas, it is filled to capacity. As much as we cry no money all the time, Nigerians travel a lot. We love holidays.

In what ways can more travel and tourism be encouraged in Africa and particularly Nigeria?

If we improve the state of security in our country, visa services to foreigners and improve other means of commuting locally, that is rail, road, sea, we would encourage inbound tourism. And if the value of our currency appreciates our immigration services for passport is less tedious and our government improves our standard of living and the embassies and high commissions here can see that we have no reason to "check out" like Andrew, and they become more lenient in visa issuance, we would encourage Nigerians to explore outbound tourism.

You are also said to represent the Oxford International Education Group, U.K in Africa: Which means, that you also have one leg in the education sector. How does that work?And how involved are you in the education sector? 

The Oxford International Education organizes The British English Olympics competition for schools all over the world and I represent them in Africa to bring schools to the UK for that competiton annually.

Indeed a woman of many parts, you have also made a foray into agriculture, what took you into agriculture? 

I sit on the Board of TechieFarmer Limited, an agric technology company that focuses on inspiring a green revolution and using technology to bridge the gap in the agric sector. I got involved in funding small medium enterprises because I was appointed as a board member of Team Funding Coop, U.K an international Co-operative Alliance company that helps SMEs with funding.

For one who is involve in many things and meeting people so frequently, tell us, what is your view about fashion and how do you describe fashion?

For me, character, intelligence, strength, style is a woman’s true beauty not what she is wearing as a fashion item.

What is your style, what kinds of clothes do you like wearing?

I wear simple and comfortable outfits. It doesn’t have to be trending or in vogue. My style is quite conservative and simple. I'm happy in a jeans and a simple top. I love my Ankara outfits too. I buy Naija to grow Naija. So I wear a lot of our local stuff.

What determines the clothes you wear in a day? 

My mood determines that! Some days I feel like I should be all dressed up like a lady and some other days I am more focused on the work at hand and what I wear is the least of my concern. 


The reason you can see me one Sunday looking all glammed up and you reckon she is certainly a woman of style and the very next Sunday I turn up in jeans, top and sneakers.

What fashion accessories like necklaces, wristwatch and so on, will you not do without? 

I can do without it all. I am not so particular. I rarely ever wear a neck piece. And I sometimes forget to wear earrings or watches. I am certainly not one of those that will go back home to wear earrings or a wrist watch. If I remember to put them on, fine if not, I am good!

In what ways would you say that fashion is relevant to today’s woman?

Perhaps in terms of providing them a means of livelihood I can say yes, it is relevant because I know the fashion industry is a multi-million dollar business locally and globally. But in terms of defining who today's woman is, I do not consider it an important parameter. As a matter of fact, I personally believe the less fashionable they are the more intelligent! I say this with a lot of caution though. It is not a general rule as nothing can be defined in absolute terms. 

It doesn't mean we do not have intelligent woman who are equally very fashionable. But when I look at women like Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Okonjo Iweala, Oby Ekwesili, Chiamamanda Adichie in their simplicity and grace, I realize there is a lot more to a woman than her outer apparel and adornment. I have a lot of respect for women who may not necessarily go after fads and trends but adorn themselves with decency, and are an embodiment of beauty and brains. I weep for those women whose high heels are usually higher than their IQ!
    
How do you describe success?
Success is discovering your purpose in life and attaining it!

What do you value most? 

My relationship with God!

All work and no play make Jill a dull girl, how do you take stress off? Do you dance, or have any special hobby?

I like to just go away. I find somewhere - hotel, resorts; somewhere quiet to go and rest my weary nerves whenever I'm spent. I love good music too.

Can you tell us some of the things that has shaped your personality in life?

Yes, there are three words that sums up my personality. The first one is determination. Early in life at the age of 18, my Dad gave me out in Marriage to a man older than himself. Of course, that was like selling me into lifetime slavery. I suffered domestic violence and abuse in the hands of this man for over a decade. He aborted my university education but after some years into the marriage I managed to find a way to go back to school. 

I was determined to succeed in life and I knew even at that young age that education was germane to that success. My determination helped me rise above all his tactics and attempt to frustrate me during the four years I was pursuing my degree program.

The second has been purpose. I was not born to just be Average! I knew God has destined for me to do great things. I knew early in life that God had a purpose for me and his Purpose was not for me to play small. Discovering your purpose in life is one of the best accomplishments that can lead to great physical accomplishments in life! So in living a life of purpose I see that it is more fulfilling and gratifying than having all the wealth in the world because it leave you with so much inner peace and joy that words cannot explain. 

You just find that you are happy all the time… just like orgasm…you can’t even explain it yourself. That is the reward of living a life of purpose.

And the third is passion. Nothing great in the world can be achieved without great passion! If you don’t pursue your purpose with great passion, your life’s dream could amount to your worst nightmare. I am therefore very passionate about my purpose…passionate bout everything I do! I belong to the school of thought that says anything worth doing is worth doing well… but I add… it’s worth doing passionately! This passion has kept me going even when it begins to get tough and difficult my vision. It is the fuel that sustains me and gives me the energy to press on and persevere when the going gets tough.

What do you consider the challenges African women contend with? 

The challenge of the African Women is basically two-edged! For some, the African cultural beliefs and tradition that the woman should be seen and not heard or that their place belongs in the kitchen. So these women are denied the much-needed education, exposure and empowerment thereby missing out on the opportunity to fully maximize their potentials and be all that they can be!

On the other hand, some African women struggle with self worth. They believe certain privileges should be handed them on gender bias basis rather than on merit. So there is the female gender quota in political or organizational structure. Hence we sometimes miss out on a level playing field, which is good for mental and psychological stimulation. So we end up with women without the required purpose and drive to attain success because they already feel a sense of defeat being a woman. Women need proper mentoring and coaching in this regard.

Is there a way to remedy these ills, and how are you making your little contribution to remedy these ills?

To remedy these ills I founded an initiative called The Amazing Amazon Initiative. It is a support group for women from all walks of life dedicated to their empowerment, enhancement, upliftment, personal growth and development. It is an action orientated group that would not just preach about women empowerment or betterment but will take practical steps and actions to support and assist women in all areas of their lives; Business, Relationship, Career, Marriage, Parenting etc. Our vision is to touch and change the lives of women and help them discover purpose.

We have programmes that cater for women of all ages and walks of lives…from high school girls, to young and upwardly mobile lady and even the middle aged and matured women.

If you had the privilege to work in the Africa Union, in the women advocacy and empowerment department, what responsibilities would you seek to occupy and why?

I would focus on empowering women through Education and Entrepreneurship Trainings. Literacy is a right the woman is often denied. For example girls are less likely to achieve the same level of basic education as boys in most African nations and literacy is definitely a tool for transformation and empowerment. But sad to say, a staggering number of women in Africa are not educated.


However, if you train a woman, you train a nation! Their educational achievements will incite a ripple effect, creating tremendous positive results for their families and communitiesimproving health, generating income, and implementing change. Ensuring a Woman’s education and financial empowerment is the fastest way of achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals in our Continent.






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