Seeing the inequalities and disparities in her native country of Nigeria opened Aisha Babangida’s eyes to the bigger problems our world as a whole faces today. Poverty, economic instability, and differing opinions plague us, creating division rather than community. Without taking active steps to create sustainable business models that grow economies and close income gaps, Aisha believes we as leaders set ourselves and our communities up for failure. With the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) push, Aisha felt the need to bring things a bit closer to home. The SDGs – if achieved, have the ability to change millions of lives for the better. That being said, without grassroots or country-specific initiatives, we can’t expect to achieve these milestones. As a result, Aisha Babangida launched the AFRICA500 initiative, a mission that bolsters the SDGs and empowers and trains businesswomen to improve the economic situations in countries throughout Africa in order to bring light to the power each woman has when it comes to influencing their communities.
So why should we actively participate? For Aisha, actively participating in these efforts was never not an option. These issues are no longer problems only government officials and diplomats need to solve, but rather a greater problem we all need to actively combat. It is important to see the social aspects behind this move as well. Yes, if successful, the mission is projected to improve the economy, but that results from powerful social objectives that also bring us together as one people. As Aisha said, “A society that prioritizes social objectives over purely economic ones have better chances of success. That is why female entrepreneurs should play a central role in this culture because women who start a business tend to be motivated by social and environmental values. She is key to all the Social Development Goals.”
As the Founder and Chairman of the Foundation, of the AFRICA500, she sees firsthand the impact a few people can make on an entire demographic of people. Aisha Babangida believes in the power of women, a tool she doesn’t think we often harness enough. In leveraging the power female CEOs have in her region, she believes the initiative can stimulate growth, inspire the next generation of leaders unrestricted by gender and improve the continent and world in a sustainable and impactful way. Every day, they prove to be an under-tapped asset and therefore in her work, Aisha looks to develop their skills and create opportunities for these females to go out and improve our world.
After celebrating International Women’s Day in Abuja and discussing the SDGs, Aisha is confident that these milestones are not a question of if Africa can achieve, but more so a question of when.
About Aisha Babangida: Aisha Babangida grew up in the country and now lives in Abuja, Nigeria, but she feels fortunate to have been able to study and engage in constructive discourse throughout the world. She attributes her optimistic outlook and aspirations for her country and the world overall to her global perspective. While every person in every country faces some form of adversity, she sees it as an opportunity for change. If we can positively change the lives of others, why wouldn’t we? For Aisha, she sees her knowledge of finance and the impacts female empowerment as two of her greatest assets and opportunities to initiate her own change. As a result, Aisha Babangida worked to establish the Egwafin Microfinance Bank to challenge the ‘unbanked’ issue that Nigeria, like many other countries, currently face. Financial inclusion opens doors not just for the people it finances, but also their children, families and communities alike. At her core, Aisha Babangida strives to make the world better than it was the day before, just as her parents taught her. She also wants to be able to set a positive example for today’s youth and act as an example of the impact one person can make.
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