Odunayo Anyibuofu is the founder of Ally Rally Apparel, a clothing company in Nigeria. She joined our Mentoring Women In Business programme in 2021 and was paired with her mentor Mireille Wehbe Hayek, a business advisor from Lebanon. Together they have taken Odunayo’s business to the next level, growing Ally Rally’s digital presence and expanding the product line. Here, the women share their reflections on mentoring and women’s empowerment.
Why become a mentee?
Odunayo: I was being motivated by the success stories of the Cherie Blair Foundation. Wherever you have success, I think you should cling yourself to such.
Why become a mentor?
Mireille: I’ve been a mentor since around 10 years now. My first mentoring experience was with the Cherie Blair Foundation. And since then, I will say that I’m in love with mentoring. When I started mentoring, I felt that I need to make a difference in others’ lives. I have lots of knowledge and lots of things to share. I felt why keep it to myself, and why be a neutral person in the society and the community. I have to make a difference, you know? I have been given the opportunity to go to college. My parents helped me to become more powerful, more successful. Maybe I had the chance, the opportunity to do that, but not everyone really has had the luck to have that.
Mireille: I would say from the beginning, it was really amazing. Odunayo sent me an email to introduce herself briefly, and we set our first meeting. Since the first meeting, I felt the joy in Odunayo and the happiness, the determination, really, in the same way you see her now smiling. When I see my mentee motivated, I get motivated, because I feel that they want to achieve so I should help them to achieve, you know? I should be up to their expectations. I helped her to think of her challenges, think of her strength, of what she can give, what is she unique. I shared a lot of my marketing experience in setting up the Facebook page, sharing some tools like Canva.
Odunayo: I’ve been able to know how to use Canva and my Facebook page too. I’ve learned how to add vehicles to bring us something so catchy. Some will say “Wow, where did you get this idea from? ”So I’ve learned that and you know, it’s been positive all the way. Very, very positive all the way.
Inspiration and growth
Mireille: Definitely, there are lots of things to learn. Personally, I would say that I always learn from my mentee, especially from Odunayo, to be always positive. And despite all the challenges, because I know how many challenges she has, but despite that she didn’t give up. This teaches me that if other people are holding tight to their dreams, I have also to hold tight to that, to my dreams, to their dreams. There’s always something positive.
Women supporting women
Odunayo: What motivated me to start Ally Rally Apparel is basically to empower women. I’m a lover of people. I’m a lover of women. When a woman empowers a woman, the woman will go a long way. When you give a woman life, the woman will give you life. When you give a woman seed, the woman will definitely make the seed to grow. It’s my saying ‘when you have power, empower others’. Make sure it is not powered by greed. Make sure you’re helping is not being powered by greed. When you’re doing things for people, rather, let it be powered by love, let it be powered by passion, let it be part of the heart of giving, giving back to the society, in your own little lane. Mireille: Women have lots of untapped potential, we have the power to make a difference in our families in our community. We need to be given the proper tools that are given to men, the opportunities that are given to others. Just give the women what they need to begiven and they will be able to really be very successful.
Odunayo: I have the goal of having five clients in a month, and then to diversify into other fashion related business. For instance, learning bag making. I started that a few weeks ago, and also slipper making because this moves more faster than clothing. And also children’s wear too. My long-term goal is to have a fashion factory, whereby I will have people working, empowering people, and making it easy for people to learn. That is also having a fashion school, which will be conducive and convenient for people, especially women and the vulnerable girls in my locality. I’ve been seeing girls that doesn’t go to school, they don’t have anywhere to go. And this has really caused a lot a lot of heartaches in my heart. I’m just hoping that one day I will stand up tall. So to bring them out of that dungeon, and you know, put smiles on their faces, because all what they need is someone to help them, someone to tell them that it’s okay someone to pat them on the back and say that you can make it. So that is my passion.
Mireille: Definitely I will continue in the mentoring and the business advising. In January2021, I registered my organisation. I call it the French name Point Tourbillon which means a tornado dot. Many ask me what is behind the name. It’s a strange, strange name. But I believe that every small thing we do, you know a dot is very small. But if you put dots one after the other, you will make a line and it can become a nice drawing. I believe that every small thing we do, every small progress… step after step, it will make a big difference.