Black People Need Their Own CNBC | Investing

In case you’ve never watched the channel or heard of it, CNBC is the cable news network devoted to finance, industry, and stock market news.

Primarily the news is focused on the U.S. stock market, but there are times when international markets are discussed, and there’s a ticker scroll at the bottom giving you information on business news around the world.

But THE MORE IMPORTANT point I want to bring up is THE WAY this news is covered on one of the most popular networks for this content.

Like most news networks, you can’t help but see the bias in the way CNBC talks to its audience.

Who in fact, is there audience?

From watching very closely over the past six months, it’s definitely not Black people.

Not to say CNBC is going out of its way to exclude Black people. But the way that news is covered takes for granted that everyone interested in stock markets or business is coming to the channel with the same level of vocabulary, experience, and resources to put CNBC’s content into practical use.

Let’s stick with stocks specifically.

To most people, it’s no secret that March was the perfect time for stock buyers to grab shares of companies at a BARGAIN price. And if you’re like me, you saw your returns hit unprecedented high levels.

ONE WORD: Tesla.

But some of you heard me say that and were like “What exactly is she talking about?”

This leads me to my point: two months ago Quartz magazine reported that the richest 10% of families in America alone own 83% of shares in the stock market.

And it’s safe to say A MICROSCOPIC percentage of those families are Black.

I have a Master’s degree in Business and attended an Ivy League school and, still, I’m looking up most of the words used on CNBC on Investopedia to figure out what the talking heads are talking about.

So what good is it for the average Black person to watch CNBC if they (a) are unfamiliar with stock market terminology, (b) may not have a legacy of investing in stocks proactively or at all, or (c) don’t have access to the money you need to make a huge return on investment?

To that last point, I have heard most CNBC commentators begin to talk about fractional shares.

Fractional shares (also known as stock slices) are pitched as beneficial to both Americans and people who live outside of the U.S. and who want to invest in the U.S. stock market.

So my audience in Africa, stay with me, this also relates to you.

When you buy a stock slice, you are literally buying a slice of a stock (or a fraction of it, whichever visual makes more sense to you).

You would do this if the stock price was WAY TOO EXPENSIVE for you to buy – for example, some folks may not have $3,000 to spend on just one share of Amazon.

So what you would do is buy a fraction that you can afford, maybe 1/10 ($300) or 1/100 ($30).

Buying stock slices does not mean you earn more of a stock for less. It means you own less of the stock at a lower price.

There should be a red flag waving in your face right now. But if not, let me try to make it clearer:

Remember when I mentioned that CNBC talks in a way that assumes everyone in the audience is coming with the same amount of resources to spend and education to make the best decision?

Well if you’re someone buying stock slices, it’s safe to assume you’re not making any of the moves that’ll get you the same results as someone else watching and using CNBC commentary to play the market.

I couldn’t find any exact data on the average ROI to expect from stock slices, but from my experience using them with Amazon, it ain’t that great.

I made 17x more owning one full share of Google than I did owning a fraction of Amazon in a shorter amount of time.

All the research I dug up said the same thing: stock slices are ONLY, POTENTIALLY, BENEFICIAL FOR LONG-TERM INVESTING.

That means you’re hoping that, by the time you’re 65 and ready to retire, those little slices add up to a decent enough pie to add to the money you need to live when you’re not working a full-time job.

But then, Michael Finke, a professor at The American College of Financial Services, had this to say about relying on stock slices for your retirement fund:

“A goal like retirement is going to require much more than spare change with today’s interest rates and expensive stock prices.”

Probably worst of all, when you buy stock slices you don’t even own any part of the company’s stock –  you’re buying a fraction of what THE BROKERAGE FIRM you bought it from owns.

And we’ve been preaching #blackownership right? Sounds like that defeats the purpose.

I’m being a little sarcastic to basically say this: BLACK PEOPLE NEED THEIR OWN CNBC.

A channel that meets them where they’re at financially and gives sound advice on building wealth that they can actually act on IMMEDIATELY.

So, let’s say you’re someone who earns less than $50,000 a year, works 2-3 jobs to get that much, has two or more children to take care of, and barely have $1,000 in savings to work with. What do you do?

If you come back next week I’ll go into more detail about some ideas I have. You can subscribe to this blog and follow my accounts on Instagram and Facebook (@sosaysseun) to get quick tips a lot quicker.

But here’s where I think any Black equivalent of CNBC should begin with giving advice:

Don’t equate high stock price with more valuable stock/company! Just because a stock is selling at $400 doesn’t mean it’s a better investment than a stock trading at $100 or $50. Which means you may not have to worry about buying stock slices in the first place, because the stocks with the real opportunity for ROI don’t cost that much.

Here are some keywords to add to your investment vocabulary ASAP:

– Market capitalization: the value of a company = the total number of shares people bought in the stock market X the current stock price per share of the company.

– Operating income: where is the company making most of its money? How confident are you that they can keep doing that?

Finally, there are ways to build capital that will get you the income you need to get into the stock market without stock slices and to earn a greater ROI. Focus on a concrete money-making plan and use some of that as a way to make money out of money in stocks.

If you want more advice on that, make sure you like the YouTube video at the top of the page, then hit the subscribe & notification button on this channel so that you get alerts when the next video is uploaded for you to watch FOR FREE and get real about your journey to financial stability.

Tyler Perry’s a Billionaire. Now What? | Investing

Congrats Tyler Perry – but now what?

We should always celebrate wins in the black community. Especially when it’s someone like Tyler Perry, who went from being homeless to joining the Forbes list of billionaires and wealthiest people on Earth.

But, what does that mean for the rest of us?

2020 was a year of promoting black businesses and talk about reparations and access to generational wealth among Black people.

The danger, though, is that if we promote this without talking about the real challenge it is to achieve this goal, we’re setting up a lot of people for hurt, disappointment, and frankly, failure.

So, who is Tyler Perry, and how did he get this wealthy?

Long story short, Tyler Perry is a high school dropout, who grew up in an abusive home, became homeless and poor from starting his own theatre production company, then eventually rose to become one of the most recognizable movie producers of all time.

After writing his first play in 1992, you can say Perry hit the jackpot in 1999 when his play Woman, Thou Art Loosed made over $5 million USD in just five months (according to

Even after that success, it would take another 21 years – and 28 in total, for Perry’s net worth to reach $1 billion USD.

Tyler Perry is one of the select – AND  I MEAN VERY FEW – people of Black or African descent who are billionaires in U.S. dollars.

How does his success compare to the rest of the world’s billionaires, and what should this tell us about preaching aspirational generational wealth to the black diaspora?

So this chart pretty much sums up the racial wealth gap.

The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, who started out selling only books on when the Internet was just becoming available to ordinary people, became a billionaire in just FOUR YEARS.

And his net worth is literally 190x greater than Tyler Perry’s.

If we look at Warren Buffett, who I’d consider the epitome of “old money”, and who’s the fifth wealthiest person alive, it took him considerably longer to become a billionaire.

Specifically, 36 years.

However, his net worth is still approximately 84x greater than Tyler Perry, who took 8 fewer years to get to billionaire status.

But you might say, hey, it’s not fair to compare those people to Perry, because certain industries allow people to earn far greater margins and accumulate wealth a lot faster.

Probably the most comparable person to Tyler Perry is Oprah Winfrey, who is also black, also grew up in poverty and an abusive household, and rose to fame and fortune through a media-based company.

Oprah Winfrey started out as a television host, and her company Harpo Productions now includes assets like Tyler Perry-produced sitcoms and reality/docu-series type shows.

Oprah started her company in 1988, and officially became a billionaire in 2004, 24 years later. As of today, her net worth is only 2.5x that of Tyler Perry’s.

You could say Oprah had a more difficult time earning her wealth, due to the double whammy of being black AND a woman. 

Compare her time and effort into building generational wealth to Laurene Powell Jobs who, yes, was a successful businesswoman herself before marrying the late, infamous Steve Jobs but essentially earned her way passively into billionaire status when she inherited her wealth from Steve Jobs’s estate.

Sorry if I’m crushing every dream you’ve had to become the next self-made millionaire or billionaire. That’s not what I’m trying to do.

What I am trying to do is position this conversation about black excellence and generational wealth in a more realistic context so that any of you hoping to achieve some form of financial success can plan for it PROPERLY.

Don’t go crazy or broke trying to keep up with the Perry’s or the Winfrey’s because everyone around you is screaming BLACK EXCELLENCE and seems like they’re starting so many LLCs in just the past 6 months.

Part of my goal with my Investing Series is to educate our community – both in the diaspora and in Africa – about setting up SMART financial goals that may not get you to billionaire status BUT AT LEAST will make sure financial stability isn’t your struggle, or your children’s struggle, or their children’s struggle…you get it.

So hit the “LIKE” button on the video at the top of the page if you want to join me on that journey, then subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the notification bell so that you get alerts when the next video is uploaded for you to watch FOR FREE and get real about your journey to financial stability.

For Michelle Obama, Becoming Ordinary is Extraordinary | Leading Like a Lady

Lesson: See the Unseen.

I used to wonder why God was invisible. At times it was hard for me to put stock in a higher power I couldn’t see but was supposed to exalt. 

Then at one Bible study, I found my answer in a story about how God revealed himself to Moses. He was allowed to experience God without fully seeing God, because “no one may see [God] and live” to tell the story.

Interesting to think about as I think about feeling invisible, a feeling most black people share. God symbolizes perfection and no person is near perfect. But, I wonder if there’s a power within us (the black people) making it hard for others to fully see us, lest parts of them are forced to die.

It was definitely a theme in the Netflix documentary “Becoming”, based on the memoir of the same title written by Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the U.S. The film includes clips of her book tour, the best and worst parts about being the first black family in the White House, and the conversations she had about it along the way with high school students.

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So much can be unpacked from her trip to Chicago, where a student asks, “how did you…persevere through this invisibility [of being a black woman]?” In one sentence she wraps up the misunderstanding and miseducation of black people around self and worth constantly forcing us into microcosms of ourselves.

For black women, the misunderstanding involves the exhausted tropes of being too ornery to talk to, too nefarious (think “welfare queens”) to trust, or too ugly or average to be valued. Coupled with black girls misinformed about who they really are, or what they could be, and you have the recipe for ripping apart the soul.

Policy changes or laws aren’t enough to solve this. The plague cuts across economic class, ethnicity, or geographic region. I saw it in myself— a first-generation Nigerian-American in a middle-class home, taught to find her worth in marriage rather than ambition. And I saw it in the black girls I struggled to teach in the South Bronx because they never thought they were smart enough. Miseducation starts at home, where internalized self-hatred is inherited, passed down in the mocking or discouragement from elders nursing past trauma. 

The trauma comes from a world deifying the black child only after they’ve made it through hell. Black children have the undue pressure to prove themselves significant while navigating paths paved with the blatant oppression of slavery, heading down the road of “soft bigotry”, low expectations” and taunts to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps.” And like a cool glass of water you’d be hard-pressed to find in hell, there’s no grace for buckling under that pressure of trying but failing to hold on.

Michelle Obama’s response to that question— “my parents always made me feel visible”— would be triggering without the self-awareness she has to recognize her unique situation. The key point she portrays in her book and attitude is crucial. We need to feel seen, but it’s a need a lot of young black girls can’t find at home or anywhere else.

When I think about that and the past generations of young people (like me) who didn’t have a Michelle Obama, I mourn the missed opportunities to unlock all the potential we had within us. If the world continues to have its way, black girls can’t afford to be just “good”, and don’t deserve the right or resources to be “great”. It takes someone like Michelle Obama, self-aware in rooms where entitlement can deceive, to show us where our true greatness comes from.

As Michelle eloquently puts it, it’s in the stories rather than the numbers. I loved Michelle’s conversation with Elizabeth, a senior from Whitney M. Young High School in Chicago. So many young women like her worry their life amounts to nothing if all they achieve is survival. I taught so many girls like her who didn’t have the perfect GPAs or pre-collegiate careers but were busy earning the income that keeps their family afloat, caring for the grandmother or father that’s sick, or frankly just carrying the emotional baggage of an unstable home.

It cautions me to reconsider what I try to accomplish as a leader, and especially as a black woman. Michelle clues us into our true superpower— seeing worth in what the world finds ordinary. It’s monumental to have an accomplished black woman like her showing us that growing up in places like South Side Chicago can’t deny us access to the privileges of high society by default. But it’s even greater to have someone like her breaking the fourth wall of privilege that tells us otherwise. 

A world that immortalizes Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg (college dropouts) for pursuing their dreams, but demonizes black children who get lost trying to find theirs, needs to be called to account. There’s so much power in Michelle telling black girls it’s okay to unplug from the world’s expectations, to stop being a “box-checker” under its standards to discover and be seen for what they truly value.

The world underestimates or refuses to understand that. It’s clear from the stories in “Becoming” and from “ordinary” life. The truth is that, as imperfect and complicated as we are, black women pursue the greater good. We raise and nurture children. We protest the harm done to others. We use our talents to inject joy and excitement into the culture. But, as Michelle says, “we go through it alone; we don’t have backup, we don’t have support…” And then, when the world’s done taking and reclaiming what we give it as its own, we’re stripped to a script or statistics that are nowhere near the truth.

The truth about us is dangerous to the status quo…too dangerous to be seen. God bless Michelle Obama, with the rare luxury of people’s attention, to share this with black women and the world: “That story, with all the highs and lows and what seems so ordinary, and what seems like nothing to you – is your power.”

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | Lessons on Leading Like a Lady

Lesson 1: Finding Yourself.

The proudest moment of my life was when I decided to go to therapy.

One of the transformational things I learned in therapy was the power of being vulnerable. In most cultures, men are taught to hide their feelings, while women are expected to show them more freely. At the same time, society would tell you that women are hysterical, exaggerated, and tough to deal with whenever they do express their feelings. 

Therapy helped me unlearn this. It took a lot of work to convince myself I wasn’t “crazy” for sharing how I felt. 

Learning more constructive ways to express emotion was a game-changer. I could show up as the same person in both my personal and professional interactions with people, in my authentic skin. Sometimes I felt taken advantage of. Yet ironically, I’m told this is the main reason I gained the loyalty and trust of my students, clients and friends.

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I thought about all of this as I read Fighting Corruption is Dangerous. I admire ambitious women, and having a role model like Dr. Okonjo-Iweala who goes above and beyond in her career is undoubtedly inspiring. 

The book would be a great read for a political science class, as it was less about Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and more of a window into the recklessness of Nigerian politics. While I can appreciate that, I’m hoping one day we get a book focused less on her explaining herself and more on how she became aware of herself.

My therapy sessions involved a lot of self-awareness exercises, and that produced the greatest gains for me. Confronting the trauma, the insecurities, and the circumstances surrounding my decisions and how I processed people’s behaviors towards me built enormous strength. I still have a lot to learn, but this newfound strength made it easier for me to talk about my experiences with a lot less bias, and use that neutral viewpoint to tell the truth about myself and others, mentoring them through sharing both the good and the bad about my life decisions.

I desperately searched for that in Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s book. To me, she’s in the heavyweight championships and I’m still on the high school wrestling team. I wanted to be mentored, to hear what someone like her does to stay emotionally and mentally fit at that undeniably stressful level.

We have so few (African) women breaking through the barriers Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has been able to, so their workout routine for vulnerable leadership is vital. We may not know them personally, and as major public figures, they may feel they want to keep some piece of themselves private from the world. 

But if Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is asking future leaders to take on the dangerous work of fighting corruption, we need her and leaders like her to be raw, transparent, and honest in their introspection. That was a missed opportunity in Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s book, leaving me with more questions than answers about her role in transforming Nigerian politics. So I tried reading between the lines to see what lessons I could pull from her experience. 

Lesson 2: Credible over Exceptional.

To be exceptional is to be rare, above average, a symbol of what’s considered peak greatness. Being credible is leaving no room for any reasonable person to doubt or mistrust you.

Ideally, great leaders could be both. But from Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s book, it seems the more power you go after, the more difficult it gets to be both. 

It’s easy to see when you examine her boss, President Johnathan, someone clearly not as exceptional as she was.  His own political party admitted he was average at best. Nothing about his career before and in politics overwhelmingly proves he was qualified for the highest office in Nigeria.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s close friends warned her that Johnathan appointed her to give him the credibility he lacked, according to Chapter 2 of her book. That’s too obvious even for someone looking from the outside to ignore. But she wrote that the personal attacks she received in the media, and the warning from her friends, still pushed her to leave her prestigious role at the World Bank to return to Nigeria:

I would not be easily intimidated. In fact, attacks had the effect of tilting me toward accepting the job [as Finance Minister]. To some extent, it was defiance.

I can name too many examples of more educated and experienced women settling to work in environments or with people nowhere near their level of qualifications. Maybe Dr. Okonjo-Iweala felt she could steal the show, taking all the (deserved) credit for transforming a government that the international community gave up on. But it was a miscalculated risk, one that led her to try to redeem herself by writing this book.

The book ends by asking more young, rising leaders to take the same risk as her to put an end to corruption in African politics. But with the lack of introspection and the clear examples of her lending her exceptional reputation casually to people who misused it several times, I wondered how inspired anyone could be to take on that challenge.  

I say this with a lot of reservations because, as I said before, very few women break down the barriers Dr. Okonjo-Iweala broke through in her career. I don’t mean that fewer women should pursue leadership roles, or that they shouldn’t aim for the highest levels. We clearly need more women on prominent stages so that the world sees the value we bring as level-headed leaders.

I’ve been in so many situations where I was asked to join a team or take on a project where I would clearly have to take responsibility for the outcomes. And several times I’ve seen people try to sabotage me by spreading rumors or trying to force me into situations where it would seem I was culpable for something I didn’t do. Just write this instead of that in the report, so we don’t lose our donors. Don’t share this or that with the auditors. I’ve been asked to say things I knew were false or promote agendas I knew would hurt people unnecessarily. When I knew doing this would keep me in a job, or even get me a promotion, I still opted to say no.

That wasn’t easy, and I felt I’ve paid the price for that longer than I should. And it made me question if I’d ever rise to levels I aspired to, to become exceptional, without having to give up doing what I knew was right.

But I’d rather give up an opportunity to prove myself exceptional if it meant I didn’t sacrifice my credibility. And before I find myself making that choice again, I desperately want to hear more examples of other women in similar situations who found a way to achieve greatness in spite of the pressures around them.

I don’t believe Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was involved in any of the things she’s been accused of during her tenure as Finance Minister. I also can see how her critics make it easy for some people to think otherwise. After reading the book twice, I couldn’t ignore multiple examples of unkept promises by President Johnathan that were the conditions Dr. Okonjo-Iweala asked for, at minimum, before she’d decide to join his team. Then there were blatant examples of his closest officials blocking Dr. Okonjo-Iweala from getting any work done. Worse of all, it was clear that she was meant to take the fallout for any missteps from the administration, leading to her reputation being tainted and her family’s life put at risk (see Chapter 1 of her book).

Ultimately, I’m thankful for her service and think the work she’s doing now on the board of amazing organizations is far more fruitful than what she did or could have done as Finance Minister. In hindsight, I wonder if she would still take the job based on early red flags that were so glaring. And I wonder if she felt having to defend herself constantly in murky situations ended up being worth the violence she experienced trying to serve her country.

But most of all, her book is evidence to me that being emotionally aware means noticing when we’ve been tricked or pressured to go against our gut feelings. Even if Dr. Okonjo-Iweala doesn’t say it explicitly, I suspect that’s what she needed to but didn’t do when she agreed to join Goodluck Johnathan’s administration. 

Being emotionally transparent means willing to share what you noticed about yourself honestly, so that those looking up to you know the warning signs to search for within themselves to avoid the same fate. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala ends her book suggesting we give future “corruption fighters” the data and think-tank fellowships to build their skill, but also get the “needed breathing space away from their adversaries” and “financial support for their families.” But what good does data or a fellowship program do if those future corruption fighters don’t build the emotional intelligence they need to cope with threats to their integrity? How do we encourage fewer people to give in to temptation without baring our souls and sharing our journeys to overcome it?

Fighting corruption is indeed dangerous, and emotional awareness and transparency is the most powerful weapon we have against it. Now more than ever, we need more leaders with the courage to show us how to wield it.

Leading Like a Lady

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Some women have a hard time answering that. 

And even when we find the courage to answer the question with “a queen!” or “a boss!”, it’s normal for us to expect violent attacks for that self-confidence.

There’s so much information out there showing that this is a self-defeating attitude, not just for women but for everyone. Study after study shows that if we’d get rid of gender norms that tell women to be timid or less ambitious, way more people would be safer and richer.

As I’m writing this, we’re experiencing the worst pandemic since 1918. And while tens of thousands of people are dying in some of the wealthiest countries in the world, far fewer are dying in the countries led by women

If we go back into the archives, this article by Newsweek talks about the added value of women to a group called “the Next Eleven” (countries on the rise).  The prediction was if they increased the number of women in the workforce back in 2010 (after the Great Recession) they would also increase the amount of money each household earned in the countries by at least 14 percent in 2020.

2020 is here, and if we look at just one of those countries (Nigeria), we see that ignoring that advice not only increased unemployment rates but kept per capita income (i.e. the income earned per person) from growing fast enough to stop the rate of poverty from growing.

“Act like a lady…”

So what’s the deal? Everyone wants to be rich, right? So why aren’t we heeding this advice? Why aren’t we empowering more women to lead?

Our way of life will never be the same once the COVID-19 crisis of 2020 is over. Lives and billions of dollars were lost carelessly. We have never been in a more collectively desperate situation across the whole world.

Yet, I can still feel a few vices hanging on & threatening to follow us into our post-COVID life. I can literally feel the misogyny in the air, choking me and refusing to let up.

It’s as if screwing over women is a natural “fight or flight” reaction when we’re in times like this. At the business level, I’ve seen men suddenly change their tone about promises they made to give more power and opportunities to women on their teams. At the political level, you see some of the most powerful men in the world (or maybe just one) blatantly insulting the intelligence of women working tirelessly to save people’s lives.

Despite all the evidence that says otherwise, women are automatically assumed to be weak and incompetent. Doing anything “like a girl” or a woman is still the worst insult you can hurl at a man. “Act like a lady” is the universal code for “you must have forgotten your place”, a warning to any woman trying too hard to prove that you can do anything a man can do. And a threat that you better not continue.

In the Harvard Business Review article “Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?” Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic put it this way:

pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent…

This tells me that acting like a lady really means being too humble. It could also mean not taking up the responsibility of being the true leaders our world needs to save itself from…itself. 

I know it can be difficult and dangerous to speak out against unfair gender norms. But at this point, when too much is on the line, we can’t leave the work of transforming the world to those without a clue on how to do it right.

See us as a threat or get on our level.

I know I’m scared, and can only imagine how scary it is for many women around the world. Thankfully, there are some women who’ve gone before me and took the risks needed to teach me how to start on this journey.

So for the next four to six weeks, my goal is to read a book every week and share the stories of those women. Summarize the lessons learned and talk about how I’m going to ACTUALLY put them in action. There’s no point in reading and learning if we don’t find the courage to claim our positions as the changemakers the world needs.

This isn’t just for women, though. If you’re a man reading this, listen in: there’s no point in ignoring the facts any longer. The only real threat to your power, your wealth, or frankly your life, is the arrogance that makes you think you can get away without bringing us along. 

I’m especially talking to the men in Africa, my motherland. As a Nigerian-American, I know too well the stress black women of the diaspora experience trying to figure out who they are personally and professionally. And I want all my black (African) men to realize that we’re better partners than servants. We’re not trying to take away your manhood by taking charge.

We don’t want to scare you from sharing your honest thoughts, either. What makes you nervous about a woman in a position of power? And how can we show you it’s not as scary as you think?

As I share my thoughts and summaries from the books I read, I absolutely need you to leave comments in the posts. This is a conversation, not a lecture. Dialogue is the way to stop seeing us as a threat and, instead, get on the same level of understanding.

Who do you want to see in the mirror?

Isolation is giving me an umpteenth time to ask and answer these questions. But truthfully, I’ve known the answers all along. 

The problem is that, even with the answers, the person in the mirror hasn’t changed. She’s still trembling from the hurt of past experiences, and not forging a path to rising to the position society needs her to take on. I’m 100% sure this is true for most women reading this.

More of us need to “act like a lady”, stepping up the quality of our character, integrity, and skills to finally live up to our potential. By the end of the series, we need a new definition of leading like a boss (lady).

Subscribe for alerts on the first book review on Thursday, April 23rd:

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Where Water Runs Dry: Streams of Income in Africa

First thing’s first: there’s an elephant in the room whether or not we’d admit it. Folks are continuing to wonder how something like COVID-19 will hurt African countries the most, or why it hasn’t spread as fast in Africa as it did in the “developed”, “Western” world.

Both questions typically involve an assumption: that the virus should technically kill more Africans because we have a nonexistent or terrible healthcare system.

This is insulting, especially because of sample breakthroughs to contain the spread. 

But worse of all it focuses on the wrong issue.

The real problem is that the limited options most Africans already had to make a decent income are disappearing. 

As I wrote about before, remote work is a luxury only people with consistent and cheap access to power and the Internet can afford. We wasted too much time not building this infrastructure in most African countries.

But when you weren’t in the formal sector to begin with, remote work wouldn’t have been a consideration. When your main source of income is housekeeping or selling produce in the town market, how do you cope when the world totally shuts down face-to-face commerce and interactions?

I have to think this through carefully because I’m working with communities that need PRACTICAL advice and support. People who have barely made over $10 USD a week to feed themselves or their families.

One Sunday I was shopping at the Nairobi Maasai market (about three weeks ago) before borders closed and the spread of COVID-19 got worse. Per usual, a vendor aggressively chased me down to view his beautiful artwork in hopes that I’d buy the priciest. 

I had my eye on one that would cost approximately $50 USD (~5,000 Kenyan shillings) but realized I only had $5 USD on hand.

I thought it was a done deal but then the man begged me to just give him the $5 because he worried this was the only sale he was going to make that day.

What are we doing right now about people like him?

I thought about sharing passive income ideas. That’s the new buzzword in this age of the hustle economy. Passive income, along with several streams of income, is the prescribed panacea for a lack of generational wealth. 

Some of the suggestions include tutoring (online curriculum), blogging, investments, and YouTube (one I promoted in the past). 

Nothing about the economy or livelihood of the average African implies they can be “passive” trying to earn additional income.

“Passive” implies that a person wouldn’t need to do much to start earning from these opportunities. But first you need the capital, then the equipment (i.e. computer), then the services we take for granted elsewhere to even begin to create content or put in place a structure to earn money.

I love being African because I come from a continent where the people don’t quit. We’re anything but laid back, whether we’re throwing parties or crossing seas because we know that means our children will eat. 

But we must cut our brothers and sisters in Africa some slack, and realize that at this point a lot of their efforts are futile in moments like these.

Anyone “stepping their game up” to find some passive income opportunities here in the States may want to figure out how to make passive income opportunities real for those in African countries. One idea is setting up call centers: industry experts have said multiple times that we’re not doing enough to replicate India’s success in this area to provide easy entry-level jobs like these that require little training. To my readers in Africa, I’ll post some available opportunities on my website shortly that you can apply to.

Any readers looking to outsource other types of opportunities to a readership of 3,000+ can send them to me at and I’ll broadcast them to potential applicants.

As always, let me know your thoughts below and remember – we all aren’t in the same place (financially or geographically) but we’re still all in this together.

What do you think?

I’m thinking of starting a business of my own that solves this problem.

I feel the same way — tired of lower standards that keep Africans at risk economically.

I don’t think you’re seeing the full picture, and I have a different point of view.

IT Matters More Than You Think: Africans & Remote Work

If you didn’t know before, now you know. Information technology (IT) and the Fourth Industrial Revolution aren’t just buzzwords; they’re a necessary reality in a world growing more unpredictable.

The latest pandemic, shut down of global travel, and mandatory quarantines in most countries are forcing us to learn how to make remote work happen. It’s no longer a luxury but a necessity to protect us from what’s been decided as the greater evil – the spread of the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, we’ve been operating as if it is a luxury for too long. Corporations aren’t charities, so I don’t blame them for not moving faster to make strong, reliable internet and mobile service accessible to every person, regardless of their ability to pay. But now we’re in a situation where, due to the way capitalism works, the divide that kept billions of Africans far away from wealth generation is just getting wider and wider.

Based on the last report given by PwC, Africa is nowhere near the list of top performers making valuable use of mobile and internet technology to make data-driven economic decisions. 

And unlike the “quick fix” we take for granted in places like the U.S., remote work is less accessible even to most wealthy Africans since investments in strong infrastructure has been deprioritized. Africans have greater access to mobile phones than they do indoor plumbing, and yet the IT infrastructure isn’t reliable enough to make business go on as usual as offices are forced to close for public safety concerns.

The Pew Research Center not only reports that “Sub-Saharan Africa has a lower level of internet use than any other geographic region” (highest was 59% use in South Africa, compared to 89% of Americans) but that even when smartphones are available, “social and entertainment activities are much more common than other uses of mobile phones, such as looking up information.”

The problem hits across access and attitudes – Africans haven’t prepared themselves for a reality where employers and employees develop a culture of productivity that doesn’t require micromanagement or physical interactions, or a culture that revolves around proficiency in using digital tools beyond sending texts and emails.

IT matters are more than just sounding tech-savvy, innovative and trendy. In the words of MTN Senior Enterprise Business Manager, Awwal Abdullahi, the “Internet has become more or less like food now.”

So if we truly want to see Africa revolutionize, and we truly care about eradicating the unnecessary and embarrassing socioeconomic gaps that stubbornly persist in the richest continent in the world (in terms of resources), IT availability has to be taken more seriously as a human rights issue.

I’m seeing many influencers and business websites advising us to use this forced time at home productively – learn a new skill, work on that business plan, and catch up on all those professional and personal goals we keep procrastinating on. 

I give the same advice to our African governments: now that things are slowing down, maybe there’s more time in your schedules to develop a more robust plan to get in line as the future of work continues to go online.

What do you think?

I’m thinking of starting a business of my own that solves this problem.

I feel the same way — tired of lower standards that keep Africans at risk economically.

I don’t think you’re seeing the full picture, and I have a different point of view.

Going Nowhere Fast: The Rideshare Industry in Africa

No, I’m not riding on the back of an okata or boda boda. And you’d have to force me to get into a matatu or danfo. No offense to the hustlers that run these motorcycles and mini-buses, which are usually the only public transportation options in most African countries. Their reputation for reckless driving and accidents scares me to death.

That’s why rideshare apps have been my lifeline over the past three months. Uber and Taxify cost significantly more, so I’m part of a select group that fortunately earns enough income to afford this as an option. I also felt that this was the only way I can get around a new setting like Nairobi and do it with peace of mind. I was wrong.

Since I moved to the city, I’ve had more near-death and fearing-for-my-life experiences than I would hope for, despite the elaborate security features apps like Uber promote. It’s great that I’m able to share my ride and have my friends track where I am along my trip. But what good is that if my driver almost kills me speeding down a road, or taking a short cut through oncoming traffic on the highway (both situations literally happened). As much as we think we can automate and digitize solutions to Africa’s (transportation) problems, technology is slower or not as great with changing behaviors to promote safer practices.

Most of the conversations on providing more travel options for Africans focus on how to get people where they’re going, fast. But I’d much rather get there alive than not at all.

Unfortunately, it’s not just about how Africans ignore the rule of law on the road. It’s also about being a woman traveling in cars with strangers. Sexual harassment and violent attacks are a reality globally. Just last year Uber lost its license to operate in London due to thousands of drivers pretending to be registered drivers, and more than 3,000 cases of abuse against riders were reported in 2018.

It truly hurts me to say that, if Uber can’t meet the strict safety protocols in cities like London, how am I to feel better using it in most places in Africa?

There are new companies, like SafeBoda, that invest in actually training their drivers in road safety and making it a requirement in order to join their platform. I also met the founder of a South African startup Lula, which I think is doing the best out of all startups in the market by onboarding a fleet of drivers as staff, meaning they go through extensive background training and are under the direct supervision of operators. While both deserve applause for putting more effort into quality control, I wonder whether one does a better job of attracting investor attention based on how much the founders look like they came from Silicon Valley.

It’s this belief that outsiders know better or that Western ideas are better that makes it challenging for us to do better in Africa. Uber’s CEO has admitted the need to exercise discipline in this trend of aiming to grow fast globally by taking more than you give back in quality. With the African rideshare industry, I worry Uber (like most other foreign companies) isn’t taking its own advice. It seems all these companies are willing to do is give a slap on the wrist when a customer pleads for them to do something more to take dangerous drivers off their platform. In my personal experiences sending complaints, it scares me that they only went as far as a refund for my trip and a “This is certainly concerning” note to make up for me almost losing my life.

If you’re an African entrepreneur trying to set yourself apart in the industry, it’s going to take that further level of accountability and investment in re-training Africans’ behaviors and mindsets, and it should be the kind of criteria investors (foreign or local) care more about.

I see more money pouring into the hands of so-called elite startup brands that rather go and grow fast at the risk of taking Africa nowhere, offering no incentive to develop the culture of professionalism and consideration for consumer well-being that removes the stigma of risk and stifles the sustainable development goals we claim we want to achieve on the continent.

Let me know what you think…

I’m thinking of starting a business of my own that solves this problem.

I feel the same way — tired of lower standards that put Africans safety at risk.

I don’t think you’re seeing the full picture, and I have a different point of view…