Paul Onwuanibe, Bimbo Oloyede, Chief Ibidunni Allison, Ambassador Leena Pylvanainen, Jette Bjerrum,  WIMBIZ Founders and others present at the WIMBIZ 22nd annual conference

The Women in Management, Business, and Public Service (WIMBIZ) has yet again delivered an exceptional, empowering, and thought-provoking experience at its 22nd Annual Conference held at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites.

The 2-day hybrid conference, which commenced 2nd November to 3rd November, brought together an extraordinary array of dynamic women leaders, entrepreneurs, public servants and innovators, with speakers and participants drawn from different parts of the world.

WIMBIZ’s Annual Conference, a prominent fixture for the past 22 years, has consistently stood out for its unwavering dedication to promoting gender equality, fostering leadership, and creating lasting change for women in Nigeria and beyond. It continues to be a driving force in empowering women to break boundaries and excel in all aspects of life.

After the registration process, the Conference commenced at 9:00 am with a heartwarming rendition of the National Anthem performed by Bamike Adeyemi, popularly known as OBA, chorused by the over two thousand participants both physically and virtually present.

Molade Adeniyi, the Chair of the Conference Planning Group, then delivered the welcome address. In her impactful speech, she emphasized that the WIMBIZ conference transcends being just an event;

  • “This conference is not merely a gathering; it’s a platform for transformation. I urge each one of you to seize this opportunity to learn, connect, and empower yourselves. As you participate in the sessions and engage with our speakers and fellow delegates, remember that you are part of a global movement of women.” She passionately conveyed,
  • “Gender is not a limitation but a strength,” and she encouraged everyone present to “commit to breaking down barriers.”

Next, the Conference Chairperson, Bimbo Oloyede, took the stage. She shared a motivational mantra, “I AM,” comprising the letters A to Z, focusing on personal empowerment. She inspired everyone with words like “Aware,” “Distinctive,” and “Triumphant,” urging them to nurture qualities and skills that promote personal growth. “We need to be awesome people with a solid foundation so we can thrive,” she stressed.

The keynote speaker, Paul Onwuanibe, Group CEO of Landmark Africa Group, delivered a rousing speech. He shared his 8 principles, 5 tools, and 3 confessions, providing deep insights. He underlined the importance of daring to dream

“You must dare to dream. Not all dreams will become a reality, but dreams will never become a reality if you do not dare to dream in the first place.” He also recounted stories of resilience and mission-possible achievements. Paul concluded with a resounding message: “The opportunity of a lifetime can only be realized in the lifetime of that opportunity.”

Hansatu Adegbite, the Executive Director of WIMBIZ, presented her director’s report. She expressed deep gratitude to all the attendees and gave a heartfelt shout-out to the behind-the-scenes heroes comprising her staff at the WIMBIZ HQ and the planning committee, who made the conference a seamless experience.

Hansatu passionately discussed WIMBIZ and its incredible and impactful journey over the years, emphasizing that the organization is a real testament to the growth of a seed sown 22 years ago. She underlined that the WIMBIZ story “is in the seed that each and every delegate member carries.” and tagged the WIMBIZ 2023 year a  “SHENDU year”, which translates as “DEPTH of PROFUNDITY.” Hansatu also presented an award to First Bank Plc for their enduring partnership with WIMBIZ since its inception.

WIMBIZ also took the time to honour and celebrate Female Pioneers in the creative industry and the aviation sector. Chief Ibidun V. Alison, a creative industry veteran, was recognized for her contributions. Additionally, Captain Chinyere Kalu MFR, a pioneer Nigerian Female Commercial Pilot; Hauwa Danbo Musa, a pioneer fully licensed female air traffic controller; and Late Christiana E. Stallings, a pioneer Nigerian Female Air Hostess, were acknowledged for their significant impact in the aviation industry.

During the two-day event, Five plenary sessions, two deep dive sessions, WIMBIZ conversations session and the highly anticipated debate was held. All of these sessions tackled critical focus areas:

PLENARY 1: NAVIGATING THROUGH RUGGED MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRIES: This session addressed the challenges of working in male-dominated industries and the necessary skills to overcome them. Panelists shared personal experiences and discussed strategies to combat gender bias and shatter stereotypes while establishing a strong presence as women in these fields.

PLENARY 2: GRITT (GETTING RESULTS IN TOUGH TIMES): STORIES OF TRIUMPH: This session celebrated resilience, determination, and perseverance in challenging circumstances. It underscored the power of GRIT and its role in achieving remarkable success. Panelists shared personal stories of triumph, the obstacles they faced, and how they overcame adversity.

PLENARY 3: COLLABORATE: BUILD STRONG ALLIANCES THAT LAST: This session focused on the strength of collaboration and the benefits of creating enduring alliances. It emphasised the significance of working together, forming partnerships, and leveraging collective strengths to achieve common goals. Panelists shared their experiences and insights on successful collaborations and discussed effective strategies for building and nurturing alliances.

PLENARY 4 – PERSONAL EQUILIBRIUM: SELF-CARE IN A VUCA WORLD: This session emphasised the importance of self-care, particularly for women, and underscored the need for practices like mindfulness, resilience-building, and work-life balance to flourish in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world.

PLENARY 5 – WOMENPRENEURS: FROM START-UP, SCALE-UP TO SUCCESS: Entrepreneurs on this panel shared their remarkable journeys from starting their businesses to achieving remarkable success and scaling up. They provided valuable insights on various aspects of entrepreneurship, including funding, networking, and strategic decision-making.

DEEP DIVE SESSION 1: MODERN-DAY CHALLENGES OF PARENTING & RAISING FAMILIES ACROSS BORDERS: This session delved into parents’ unique difficulties in raising families in multicultural or transnational settings. It sheds light on the complexities, opportunities, and strategies of navigating these modern challenges.

DEEP DIVE SESSION 2: TRANSGENERATIONAL SUCCESSIONS FOR SUSTAINABILITY & IMPACT: This session explored the importance of successful transitions and continuity in family businesses, organisations, and initiatives across generations. It highlighted strategies, challenges, and best practices for ensuring sustainable and impactful succession.

WIMBIZ CONVERSATIONS: EVOLVE: TAKE GIANT STRIDES was an insightful session moderated by Bimbola Wright, Non-Executive Director Ecobank Plc. Jette Bjerrum, Consul General and Head of Mission, Royal Danish Consulate General, Lagos and Leena Pylvanainen, Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), were members of this esteemed panel. They both spoke about how women should push themselves beyond their comfort zones and aim for substantial progress. Leena reiterated, “We have to be able to ask for what we deserve. Don’t be afraid to ask,” Jette further stressed.

The much-anticipated Debate, titled “ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – FRIEND OR FOE?” was a thrilling and interactive session. Moderated by Foluso Gbadamosi, Executive Director at Junior Achievement Nigeria, the session saw the debaters fiercely discussing the role of AI. Fisayo Fosudo, a Tech & Finance Creator, and Habibah A. Waziri, Founding Partner of TTLabs & CEO of BGR Consulting Ltd, argued against AI. Conversely, Tobi Ayeni, a Digital Strategist and founder of MissTechy, and Victor Madu, a Tech Content Creator, stood as AI’s friends. After an intense back-and-forth with compelling counterpoints, the “foes” of AI, as decided by the audience, emerged as the victors.

The WIMBIZ conference also featured a raffle draw with different prizes up for grabs. Some of the prizes won were; A brand-new TECNO phone, weekend getaways at the Eko Hotel, and millionaire grants. Notable winners include Oluwatosin Ajibade, founder of Olori Supergal, who won one million naira from the raffle draw sponsored by Unilever Plc, while Aladesuyi Ademidesola, founder of Bloom Everywhere and Dr. Eziafakaku Nwokolo, founder of Shades of Life Foundation carted home one and two million naira in grant prizes respectively.

The conference was brought to a close by Bisi Adeyemi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at WIMBIZ. She expressed profound gratitude to all the delegates, members, speakers, corporate sponsors and esteemed guests for making the conference memorable and impactful. She invited the combined powerhouse of the conference planning group and WIMBIZ HQ team to the stage. “This has been made possible by the sheer grit and tenacity of a special group of women and a few men, who have shown us that nothing is indeed impossible if you put in all that is required and, of course, with God on your side.” She remarked.

The curtains were drawn to a close as they took their final bow, and the after-party commenced.

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