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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Dr Anino Emuwa

Dr Anino Emuwa is a global women’s leadership expert specialising in entrepreneurship and emerging technologies. A former corporate banker, she is the Managing Director of Avandis Consulting and founder of 100 Women @Davos

Anino sits on the board of Nottingham Trent University; the Watch and Jewellery Initiative 2030, an industry sustainability initiative and chairs the board of Prembly, a fast growth tech start-up.

An advocate for gender equality, she is a member of the Institute of Directors Expert Advisory Group on Inclusion and Diversity, a LinkedIn Top Voice on Gender Equity and a TEDx speaker

Anino has received several awards and recognitions including: Most Influential Women in web3 and AI, Top 100 Women of the Future: Metaverse and Web3, 21 women shaping and driving the global sustainability agenda.  She contributes to philanthropic entrepreneurship  programmes notably Cartier Women’s Initiative.

Dr Emuwa holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from Nottingham Business School, an MBA from Cranfield School of Management and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and the company ?   

After completing my degree in Monetary Economics at the London School of Economics, I started off in corporate banking with Citibank in Lagos, with the responsibility for a portfolio of multinational companies. I gained hands on experience in financing and business strategy during this time. But soon, I felt a strong urge to help smaller businesses, especially those led by women, with their financial needs. I  then went to pursue a MBA at Cranfield University and returned to banking. After  a short spell in banking working as an independent consultant living in several African countries I relocated to France and undertook doctoral research focusing on how to overcome hurdles that small and medium-sized entrepreneurs face in getting loans and finance.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The idea to start up my business sprouted from my own experience seeing the struggles of entrepreneurs firsthand. I wanted to do something to bridge the financing gap, particularly for women-led businesses. But it wasn’t just finance, there were other barriers they faced too such as access to markets and information and skills development. While I didn’t initially set out to focus specifically on women, my work with female entrepreneurs over the years made me realize the unique challenges women leaders experience.  So I began to focus on them as well as women in the corporate world. After attending the World Economic Forum for the first time in 2017 and noticing the lack of representation of women, it was then I decided to start up a group for women in Davos which has now led to the creation of 100 Women @ Davos with community members in over 40 countries. This naturally led to exploring diversity and inclusion in organisations.

How did you spread awareness about your work?

Seminars I ran were a big part of it. Not only did they provide valuable information, but they also helped build networks of women leaders which turned out to be crucial. Speaking engagements, networking, and diving deeper into academic research also played a role. Partnering with like-minded organizations and using social media helped amplify our message to reach more people.

How did you manage to secure funding and grow?

Being a mission-driven business, we relied on our own resources to start. We tested and evolved our services organically, and collaborating played a key role in our growth. Recently, we launched a membership package, which has been successful so far. We’re still in the early stages, but we’re optimistic about our future growth.

What have been your major achievements?

Building a network of 10,000 women across the globe stands out. Also, our membership package launch was a big success. Creating events alongside global leadership gatherings like the World Economic Forum, United Nations General and COP has been rewarding. We’ve also gained recognition for our thought leadership in diversity and inclusion. It was particularly rewarding to see us featured in an article in Forbes on Davos after the World Economic Forum.

What challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them?

Like any startup, we’ve had our share of challenges, from overcoming resistance to building trust. But by staying true to our mission and values, we’re slowly overcoming these obstacles and gaining acceptance.

What are your plans for the future?

We aim to expand our services, grow our communities, and make a bigger impact in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. We also plan to expand our reach to more countries, particularly in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Make sure you have a good support system, be prepared for financial challenges, and be ready to pivot when needed. Failure is part of the journey, so embrace it as a learning opportunity. And never lose sight of why you started in the first place.

What are your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Stay focused on your goals, build a diverse team, be adaptable, nurture relationships, and keep innovating.

Who inspires you the most?

Michelle Obama for her advocacy work with women and girls, Melinda Gates for her focus on promoting female leadership, Serena Williams for her resilience, Indira Noyi as a corporate leader Christine Lagarde for her achievements, and most importantly, my mother a trailblazer of her time in the legal field in Nigeria and for her values. I’m particularly moved to see my mother now in her 80’s featured on the front page of a newly released book about the history of Nigerian women.

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?