Adaora Mbelu Dania popularly known as Ahdora Lumina is a great Entrepreneur, combining various skills and competencies to reveal her gift to the world.
Born in Colombo into a diverse family background, a Nigerian Father and a Sri Lankan Mother, Adaora began her journey in creativity and leadership as a child. She attended Northern Kentucky University, USA, where she studied Economics and Entrepreneurship, and was drafted into the National Honors Scholars Society as well as the Entrepreneurship Institute Honors Committee.
Adaora Mbelu started her career as a credit risk analyst at Citigroup, USA, before moving back to Nigeria in 2008.
When she moved to Nigeria, she became the Assistant Project Manager for Nigerian Idol, and Project Manager for the Television show, Nigeria’s Got Talent where she was responsible for managing the business and production aspects of the show.
She was also Nominated in the “Entrepreneur Of The Year” and “Prize For Media Enterprise” Categories of the Future Awards Africa. She has been featured among Nigeria’s Under 40 CEO’s, Top 30 Under 30, and most recently in “The Northern” magazine.
Aside from her academic and professional accomplishments, she has a super-passion for community development. She is the co-founder of Socially Africa (@sociallyafrica), a foundation that gives back to the community through several initiatives, and also the co- founder of Trellis Group.
She recently released her book ‘This thing called purpose’. She is indeed a bundle of greatness and she shares her journey with us.
DA: What inspired you to start up Socially Africa?
Ahdora Lumina: In 2015, my co-founders and I had a discussion around the importance of giving back to the community, and the concern that many young people are waiting till they have millions and consider themselves financially successful, before they start to engage in community development. We decided not to sit and complain, but to take actionable steps to rallying people together to solve some of the problems we had identified in our communities.
We want to serve as inspiration to the next generation watching what we do, and how we impact our world, beyond chasing the next job, or working to feed our families. We started investing funds from our businesses into community development projects.
In 3 years, we have executed one of our projects “Art For A Cause” in 15 schools across Nigeria, Impacting over 8,000 kids. We’ve also run our code classes for teenagers, teaching basic programming to 80 teens. We have given out 3,000 Love Boxes, Hosted 3 food drives, and launched our volunteer platform, The Amber Circle. Socially Africa is more than an NGO, we are a movement teaching young people how to give back.
DA: What major challenges did you face and how were you able to overcome them?
Ahdora Lumina: Everything in life comes with various challenges, even the super heroes in the movies have to fight people, and even their own emotional struggles. I have had my fair share of challenges, especially as I work on the client side, and also manage operations.
I am continuously dealing with solving people’s problems, and that sometimes means fully immersing myself in understanding the problem first, before I try to solve it. I have learned to focus on the objectives, and not worry about the Fluff. The most important thing to me is generating results, and impacting people’s lives everything else is secondary.
DA: When you decided to start up Socially Africa, what practical steps did you take?
Ahdora Lumina: Starting Socially Africa, the priority was to get the actual work done. We didn’t register as a foundation, until after we had actually executed several self funded community development projects. After successfully executing these projects, we registered with CAC and structured the foundation properly for transparency and accountability purposes. Some of our projects require getting clearance from the School Education Board – SUBEB. We maintain a relationship with them and ensure that we receive clearance in writing to allow us execute without interruption.
DA: What was the most important skill or knowledge you gained while working at Citigroup, Nigerian Idol and Nigeria’s Got Talent, that helps you work effectively as the director of Trellis Group?
Ahdora Lumina: I learned the importance of taking initiative. In my work experience thus far, I have worked with bosses that trusted me to effectively and efficiently get the job done. Their trust in my abilities kept me on my toes.
I committed time to learning, up skilling, and self-improvement to allow me contribute valuable expertise to these projects without having to be micro-managed. The better work I did, the more my managers could focus on other aspects of the business, and I believe they appreciated that flexibility.
DA: How can entrepreneurs shift their focus from being just founders and owners of various businesses to being problem solvers?
Ahdora Lumina: I think it’s important to first identify the problem that you’re looking to solve, before you even register a business. Most people register a business because they need to do a single transaction. Once the transaction is completed, they continue to use the business for transaction purposes, versus building a company.
I think starting a business, and building a company are different things. Building a company requires more risk taking, grit, and commitment. Once you start to employ people, you take on a lot of responsibility to them and their families.
If you haven’t determined the problem you’re solving, and how to generate income from it, it’s really tough to build anything. In this same light, understand that your first business may not be THE business. Allow yourself to fail and learn from your experiences.
DA: How do you effectively use social media as a force for change without being affected by the negativities like envy and jealousy, staring in your face?
Ahdora Lumina: I believe that my ability to use social media without focusing on the negativity stems primarily from my spiritual relationship with God first, and then my family upbringing, and mentality.
I am not easily influenced by my peers, and I have been on a self awareness and contentment journey for many years – it did not happen overnight. Luckily, there was no social media at the time to interfere with the process. I have the ability to manage what I store in my mind and heart, and how I process things. This helps me focus on why I use social media, and know my boundaries/how to interact.
DA: How do you know when to focus more on your Company, or your music career, without one affecting the other?
Ahdora Lumina: Honestly, I don’t know when to focus on what. I just do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. They’re all one and the same thing, so I don’t see one negatively “affecting” the other.
Everything I do, is who I am – same person, same purpose.
DA: What books would you recommend to entrepreneurs that has shaped your own entrepreneurial journey?
Ahdora Lumina: Start Something That Matters, by Blake Mycoskie
Winning by Jack Welch
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
DA: What is one major skill that entrepreneurs have to develop that would help them increase efficiency in their various businesses?
Ahdora Lumina: Communication Skills are crucial to every business, whether it is communicating with clients, team members, business leaders, investors, etc. It is important to be able to pass across your message in the most effective way as possible.
Poor communication can cause major damage to any organization. Learn how to listen, and how to speak, email, write, effectively – this is a key part of leadership.
DA: What is your advice to entrepreneurs?
Ahdora Lumina: Be Patient. Time is a great storyteller. This is my mantra. I believe that we can beat many variables in life, but cannot beat time- the understanding and acceptance of this fact, brings focus, peace of mind, and ultimately Joy.
DA: How can we reach you?
Ahdora Lumina: On Instagram @ahdora_lumina
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