AWP Network working to uplift the next generation of African Innovators

Struggles and challenges. Leaders and innovators are no strangers to them—and they’re not afraid to face them with persistence, tenacity, and determination. Mary Olushoga is one young woman who did not allow perceived barriers to stop her, but instead chose to turn them into motivation to start a movement.

Olushoga, founder of the AWP Network, a web platform that offers African entrepreneurs business resources, educational tools, and community support, saw her enterprising father work through challenges and decided to be an agent of change. “Growing up in Nigeria, I saw my father’s struggles as an entrepreneur. I thought, ‘If he had the necessary resources, his business would have seen more success,’” Olushoga says. caught up with the 28-year-old to talk about why business advocacy is key to the advancement of entrepreneurs in Africa and her advocacy for women’s entrepreneurial empowerment through technology. Why did you decide to start a network for African entrepreneurs?

Olushoga: I’ve been in the small business industry since graduating from college. I got the opportunity to work with NYC Business Solutions, whose centers provide free services for entrepreneurs, and I was able to develop many skills during that experience. They offered key resources that entrepreneurs need, particularly in Africa. I hear from many that there’s no money, but our organization provides information on startup funding, Web tools and other business solutions.

You’re a big advocate of women and technology, especially in terms of entrepreneurship. How can women leverage the tech space and continue to be leaders?

Understanding and having an awareness of tech innovation and products and their ability help women in how they do business is important. There’s still that gap in terms of cost, accessibility and comprehension. Some people don’t understand what certain things do. Knowing the capabilities of technology will enable and encourage women to be empowered in business. Also, mentoring helps a lot of women remain engaged and be exposed.

We sometimes have that frustration with not knowing, but we must be willing to feel uncomfortable at first. Get empowered to know what’s going on. Research and get the knowledge on the tools that will help our businesses grow.

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