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Olateju Agoro – Nigeria

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For years after graduating from the university, I searched for jobs but found nothing that inspired my passion. Last year, I came face to face with my passion while attending the Aso oke festival festival in my home town of Iseyin. Being a guest at the maiden edition, I said to myself that if I could be part of this thing, I would put some touches to make it better. As things would have it when passion and truth are aligned, this year I managed the project. In managing, I found myself dealing with the locals, often unaccustomed with ‘official’ working norms and their being illiterate did not improve what was at the foundation a difficult situation. I found myself working alongside over 1,200 members of the weavers association (all Men). In addition, I travelled around with over 10 committee members (all Men) always as the only woman. In spite of whispers of my incompetence due to my age (32) and gender, I was not dissuaded and trudged on. On this journey, I passed through some stages where I wanted to quit, as the words of men and women speaking against my ability to deliver found their mark. ‘What does she have to offer?’ ‘Can she actually manage this very big project?’ ‘Why must it be her?’ At these moments, it was the support of a small community of colleagues that believed in me that kept me going. The 2nd edition of Aso oke festival was held on the 16th of September 2017 and was a resounding success with clamors for future editions to come. Today, as I write this, I am still getting kudos for what was. I make a point to remind the well-wishers that women can also make things happen especially coming from a community where they don’t believe in us, even we don’t believe in ourselves . This is just the beginning, and the best is yet to come. Nothing is difficult if you put passion in whatever you do. I said I was going to make it better and I made it happen. Women for the top!!

Rosalin Abigail Kyere-Nartey – Ghana

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It’s been a long journey to where I am am today.

I was born to a 19-year-old mother and father in a village that I am not sure is on the map. Giving birth to me almost took my mother’s life but thankfully she is alive today to see the results of her struggle.

At the age of three, my grandmother — a farmer — took me to live with her in a town called Aworoso near Twifo Praso in Ghana. In my new home, I too started going to farm well before I got enrolled at school. I do not remember if I ever went to Kindergarten but I remember being in primary three and that I was never interested in school, something to do with always being teased for I was a slow learner.

One December month, my cousins came from Accra to spend Christmas with us. I observed how different we were — they had and read a lot of books as well as spoke in English — none of which I did.

I remember one cousin of mine gave me a book to read and I couldn’t pronounce a word in it. I was asked to write my name and I couldn’t. I got so embarrassed and frustrated also because they laughed at me.

When they left, I was seized by a single desire to leave Aworoso to join them in Accra. The day finally came and I did leave and I never went back.

Upon getting to Accra my mother’s eldest sister who took me in to Suhum in Ghana where I started school from Primary 5 at the age of 14.

School was tough to say the least. At the age of 14, I still could not write my name and I recall always being the last of the class. All I wanted was to give up schooling but this was not an option, so, I trudged on.

Somehow, I never repeated a class and completed junior high at the age of 18 years with the last grade possible — grade 30. It was so embarrassing, as there was no way grade 30 would get me to a senior high school. I was advised to start a trade or go for hands-on profession like dressmaking, hair dressing or something that did not involve academic work. But I did not want any of the above and instead wanted to be in school.

I had a boyfriend who was my inspiration and always motivating me. He was an engineering student in Accra and had served as a teacher and mentor to me since our path crossed and till today. With his motivation I got to know about culinary school in Koforidua, I wasn’t sure my grade 30 could get me in but try I did and was admitted to the school.

Something had changed in me. We wrote our first term exams and I was on top performing well both in theory and practical work.

I was highly spoken of and was among the bright students of the school. I was nominated to part of Peer Educators for the Red cross and was trained on HIV, AIDS and Sex education which included visiting classes in our school to educate our mates on the topic. This experienced coupled with serving as class President inspired my interest in working towards impact. I discovered a love for taking on responsibilities as it challenged me to find answers to the things I do not know.

In my second year in school, I got the opportunity to intern at a great property then Crystal Royal hotel now Fiesta Royal. At the end of my internship, I was called by the HR to encourage my career in the hospitality industry with the words “I think you are great with management and dealing with people so find your real call”. Her words play in my mind till today.

After three years I graduated from culinary school and went back to Suhum where I completed Junior high school. I bought an industrial oven and other equipment and started a bakery business. I baked and carried my wares on my head and sold them in car stations and market.

I did this for about three months and gave up. I was always getting tired after the day and was difficult waking up for the next day.

One day, I informed my Aunty and left for Accra without knowing what I was going to do. I went back to Fiesta Royal hotel. They took me in and within four weeks there I met Australian couple at the hotel who had just arrived in Accra and were in need of a cook. I told them about my background and they offered me a job with good salary and accommodation. I worked with them until they had emergency and left for Australia.

I was subsequently offered a position as a General Supervisor of a new 32 room hotel in Accra. I worked in this position for 2 years. Till this day I wonder how I managed having never studied hospitality management. It was an eye opener for me as well as a vehicle to find my call to Hospitality and Tourism management.

From the hotel management I wanted to get a degree driven by a desire to grow. I went on to gain a degree from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration and gained university admission to study towards a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management

It was

so thrilling and fulfilling to know I was the first person in my family to get to that level in education. I wanted to do more. I involved myself in extra curriculum activities in the school from class president to student counsel etc. I was always at the forefront of opportunities.

I sold cal

culators and laptops on campus and I got a job as a tour guide to make ends meet.

In my third year I had the opportunity to intern with the luxury and business hotel brand Moevenpick Ambassador hotel. Through this experiences, I learnt so much and dreamed of working in such environment.

Upon graduation, I already had a job as a senior disaster control officer at the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO). My job focused on visiting hotels and restaurants to check their safety procedures and also to educate.

At this junction, I decided to register my company RosakConsult with a vision “to be an African brand that attracts hospitality and tourism investment onto the continent for development”. I started focusing more on the Rosak project and resigned from NADMO to do just this.

At the same time I left NADMO, my dream was to acquire a higher education and to this end had applied for opportunities in China, America, Europe etc. I got an offer from Swiss Hotel Management School for an MSc International Hospitality Management. It was the best milestone in my life and I left everything I was working on and and headed to Switzerland.

I had in mind to return to Ghana one year after my graduate program and grow Rosak Consult but it would seem life is programed in a way that I do not have the blue print but the Lord orders my growth by his wish.

In October 2016 I was a student volunteer to UBS, one of the largest bank in Europe at International Recruitment Forum of the Swiss Education Group. As faith would have it, I met with aWalt Disney World employee and the conversation led me to where I am today to be one of the ten students selected from Switzerland’s best Hospitality schools to Walt Disney World for their new program attracting new talents as part of their human capital growth strategy. The Program is exciting and also nerve racking as a lot is expected of me (us) but I am challenged to be here and do this. The same way I managed to get here is the same way I will shine through.

A while ago, I was tested and came out as dyslexic, wow dyslexia. This is was the root of my inability to read and write even until the age of 19. The question that keeps flushing through my mind is how many people are in this same situation? How many have lost hope due to societal pressure and endless teasing?

This is a new challenge I am taking on with a dream to educate, create awareness and mentor people. Someone might be unable to read and write now but they have other hidden talents. How can we discover them?

I have faced challenges and it would seem I am roaring through above and beyond. I have lived the truth to never let the challenges in life stop you from discovering who you truly are. People may go as far as speaking ill of you without knowing who you are and your story, but keep pushing, never stop for one second to be good and offer support when needed.

Also avail yourself to embrace opportunities and please humble yourself to serve people because the act of serving is rewarding as its helps you to discover your abilities.

Always stay positive and keep trying, ask for help when in need, some people will say no to you but keeping seeking help and ultimately seek God. He is a sweet comforter and knows you better than anyone. He has the power of bringing helping angels your way.

Keep on roaring till you never have to introduce yourself but people recognize you from the impact you are creating on the continent.

To my African sisters, let’s be soldiers for one another, we can create what we want to see on the motherland. Together we can, together we build and together we stand like lions.

Olateju Agoro – Nigeria

By | Story | No Comments

For years after graduating from the university, I searched for jobs but found nothing that inspired my passion. Last year, I came face to face with my passion while attending the Aso oke festival festival in my home town of Iseyin. Being a guest at the maiden edition, I said to myself that if I could be part of this thing, I would put some touches to make it better. As things would have it when passion and truth are aligned, this year I managed the project. In managing, I found myself dealing with the locals, often unaccustomed with ‘official’ working norms and their being illiterate did not improve what was at the foundation a difficult situation. I found myself working alongside over 1,200 members of the weavers association (all Men). In addition, I travelled around with over 10 committee members (all Men) always as the only woman. In spite of whispers of my incompetence due to my age (32) and gender, I was not dissuaded and trudged on. On this journey, I passed through some stages where I wanted to quit, as the words of men and women speaking against my ability to deliver found their mark. ‘What does she have to offer?’ ‘Can she actually manage this very big project?’ ‘Why must it be her?’ At these moments, it was the support of a small community of colleagues that believed in me that kept me going. The 2nd edition of Aso oke festival was held on the 16th of September 2017 and was a resounding success with clamors for future editions to come. Today, as I write this, I am still getting kudos for what was. I make a point to remind the well-wishers that women can also make things happen especially coming from a community where they don’t believe in us, even we don’t believe in ourselves . This is just the beginning, and the best is yet to come. Nothing is difficult if you put passion in whatever you do. I said I was going to make it better and I made it happen. Women for the top!!

Rosalin Abigail Kyere-Nartey – Ghana

By | Story | No Comments

It’s been a long journey to where I am am today.

I was born to a 19-year-old mother and father in a village that I am not sure is on the map. Giving birth to me almost took my mother’s life but thankfully she is alive today to see the results of her struggle.

At the age of three, my grandmother — a farmer — took me to live with her in a town called Aworoso near Twifo Praso in Ghana. In my new home, I too started going to farm well before I got enrolled at school. I do not remember if I ever went to Kindergarten but I remember being in primary three and that I was never interested in school, something to do with always being teased for I was a slow learner.

One December month, my cousins came from Accra to spend Christmas with us. I observed how different we were — they had and read a lot of books as well as spoke in English — none of which I did.

I remember one cousin of mine gave me a book to read and I couldn’t pronounce a word in it. I was asked to write my name and I couldn’t. I got so embarrassed and frustrated also because they laughed at me.

When they left, I was seized by a single desire to leave Aworoso to join them in Accra. The day finally came and I did leave and I never went back.

Upon getting to Accra my mother’s eldest sister who took me in to Suhum in Ghana where I started school from Primary 5 at the age of 14.

School was tough to say the least. At the age of 14, I still could not write my name and I recall always being the last of the class. All I wanted was to give up schooling but this was not an option, so, I trudged on.

Somehow, I never repeated a class and completed junior high at the age of 18 years with the last grade possible — grade 30. It was so embarrassing, as there was no way grade 30 would get me to a senior high school. I was advised to start a trade or go for hands-on profession like dressmaking, hair dressing or something that did not involve academic work. But I did not want any of the above and instead wanted to be in school.

I had a boyfriend who was my inspiration and always motivating me. He was an engineering student in Accra and had served as a teacher and mentor to me since our path crossed and till today. With his motivation I got to know about culinary school in Koforidua, I wasn’t sure my grade 30 could get me in but try I did and was admitted to the school.

Something had changed in me. We wrote our first term exams and I was on top performing well both in theory and practical work.

I was highly spoken of and was among the bright students of the school. I was nominated to part of Peer Educators for the Red cross and was trained on HIV, AIDS and Sex education which included visiting classes in our school to educate our mates on the topic. This experienced coupled with serving as class President inspired my interest in working towards impact. I discovered a love for taking on responsibilities as it challenged me to find answers to the things I do not know.

In my second year in school, I got the opportunity to intern at a great property then Crystal Royal hotel now Fiesta Royal. At the end of my internship, I was called by the HR to encourage my career in the hospitality industry with the words “I think you are great with management and dealing with people so find your real call”. Her words play in my mind till today.

After three years I graduated from culinary school and went back to Suhum where I completed Junior high school. I bought an industrial oven and other equipment and started a bakery business. I baked and carried my wares on my head and sold them in car stations and market.

I did this for about three months and gave up. I was always getting tired after the day and was difficult waking up for the next day.

One day, I informed my Aunty and left for Accra without knowing what I was going to do. I went back to Fiesta Royal hotel. They took me in and within four weeks there I met Australian couple at the hotel who had just arrived in Accra and were in need of a cook. I told them about my background and they offered me a job with good salary and accommodation. I worked with them until they had emergency and left for Australia.

I was subsequently offered a position as a General Supervisor of a new 32 room hotel in Accra. I worked in this position for 2 years. Till this day I wonder how I managed having never studied hospitality management. It was an eye opener for me as well as a vehicle to find my call to Hospitality and Tourism management.

From the hotel management I wanted to get a degree driven by a desire to grow. I went on to gain a degree from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration and gained university admission to study towards a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management

It was

so thrilling and fulfilling to know I was the first person in my family to get to that level in education. I wanted to do more. I involved myself in extra curriculum activities in the school from class president to student counsel etc. I was always at the forefront of opportunities.

I sold cal

culators and laptops on campus and I got a job as a tour guide to make ends meet.

In my third year I had the opportunity to intern with the luxury and business hotel brand Moevenpick Ambassador hotel. Through this experiences, I learnt so much and dreamed of working in such environment.

Upon graduation, I already had a job as a senior disaster control officer at the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO). My job focused on visiting hotels and restaurants to check their safety procedures and also to educate.

At this junction, I decided to register my company RosakConsult with a vision “to be an African brand that attracts hospitality and tourism investment onto the continent for development”. I started focusing more on the Rosak project and resigned from NADMO to do just this.

At the same time I left NADMO, my dream was to acquire a higher education and to this end had applied for opportunities in China, America, Europe etc. I got an offer from Swiss Hotel Management School for an MSc International Hospitality Management. It was the best milestone in my life and I left everything I was working on and and headed to Switzerland.

I had in mind to return to Ghana one year after my graduate program and grow Rosak Consult but it would seem life is programed in a way that I do not have the blue print but the Lord orders my growth by his wish.

In October 2016 I was a student volunteer to UBS, one of the largest bank in Europe at International Recruitment Forum of the Swiss Education Group. As faith would have it, I met with aWalt Disney World employee and the conversation led me to where I am today to be one of the ten students selected from Switzerland’s best Hospitality schools to Walt Disney World for their new program attracting new talents as part of their human capital growth strategy. The Program is exciting and also nerve racking as a lot is expected of me (us) but I am challenged to be here and do this. The same way I managed to get here is the same way I will shine through.

A while ago, I was tested and came out as dyslexic, wow dyslexia. This is was the root of my inability to read and write even until the age of 19. The question that keeps flushing through my mind is how many people are in this same situation? How many have lost hope due to societal pressure and endless teasing?

This is a new challenge I am taking on with a dream to educate, create awareness and mentor people. Someone might be unable to read and write now but they have other hidden talents. How can we discover them?

I have faced challenges and it would seem I am roaring through above and beyond. I have lived the truth to never let the challenges in life stop you from discovering who you truly are. People may go as far as speaking ill of you without knowing who you are and your story, but keep pushing, never stop for one second to be good and offer support when needed.

Also avail yourself to embrace opportunities and please humble yourself to serve people because the act of serving is rewarding as its helps you to discover your abilities.

Always stay positive and keep trying, ask for help when in need, some people will say no to you but keeping seeking help and ultimately seek God. He is a sweet comforter and knows you better than anyone. He has the power of bringing helping angels your way.

Keep on roaring till you never have to introduce yourself but people recognize you from the impact you are creating on the continent.

To my African sisters, let’s be soldiers for one another, we can create what we want to see on the motherland. Together we can, together we build and together we stand like lions.