Tradition, without context, can be a powerful barrier to progress. It seals the eyes and ears to new possibilities. It makes pathways to new benefits forbidden. It cuts connections to personal and generational growth. This is what I think when I hear Naija sisters weighing their careers, their hopes, and their dreams against co-wife life in a polygamous marriage.
The question, “What else am I going to do" comes up so often that it’s clear to me that the Nigerian Woman might not know the intellectual, social, and economic value she already offers the globe. Here are three practical, money-making ways that “Something else to do” can change the Naija woman’s life, family, and future.
1: Export Your Trades
The skills that you learned as a girl — how to prepare food, how to weave, how to sew, how to maintain your beauty — are monetized many times over on other continents. Look at Rosewe and Ashro. Native Nigerian clothing (or similar print) prices in the US range from $20 to $200 (7,600 to 76,240 NGN) depending on the complexity of the design.
Foods you have learned to prepare and preserve like stock fish, smoked snail, and, gari fill the shelves of specialty stores all over the US and Europe. I have a favorite store where I buy Nigerian imports in Savannah, GA, and I had a favorite in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Do you know how hard it is to find properly ground egusi seeds? I do, and so does every person looking for Nigerian food outside of your country.
The Nigerian beauty regiment — hairstyling, make-up, dress for special events — is being adopted all over the world by other cultures. The auto gele is making its rounds on Etsy and Facebook. Pretty brown girls everywhere want to style their head ties like you (or let you do it for them).
If you feel like all you have is your trades, then what you need next is commitment to your product, a small start-up investment, and a link. There’s money in your trades.
2: Export Your Experiences
There is still an audience for the novelty of African life in our world. People want to read, hear, and see what Africa, what “Africanism,” is about. This is especially true for Nigeria, which is recognized as an economic powerhouse on The Continent.
The Nigerian woman’s life is the next great biography, the seed of the next great novel, the next popular mini-series, the next life-changing movie, the next bestselling album. If you don’t believe me, look how much Nigerian media and entertainment made last year: $806 million.
Nigerian media and entertainment — the “export” of Nigerian stories — made about $806 million dollars (306,280,005,513 NGN) in 2020.
Your history — elements that only Nigerians know, that only women care about — matters. That’s because even the parts of your life that have gone count toward the wealth of your experience.
There is money in that.
3: Export Your Intellect
If you want to stay in Nigeria, then stay. If you want to leave Nigeria, then leave. There are legal, safe ways to leave Nigeria and immigrate to other nations in order to share your expertise and experience new cultures.
Teachers might pursue contracts with companies like Global Teachers Solutions, LLC and TPG Cultural Exchange that place international teachers for 1–3 years in other countries. The teachers share their culture with the students, and the host country shares the new culture with the teacher.
If you are a woman with a specialty degree in the sciences, you might find success with international visa programs if you win employment in a host country. Start searching for work in your specialty area at hospitals or universities in the country of your choice. Make sure that you only apply to well-known, confirmed employers to avoid shady trafficking organizations. If an employer in your host country selects you, they can assist you in getting the right travel documents.
If a confirmed employer in your host country selects you, they can assist you in getting the right travel documents.
If you don’t have a degree in anything but you have a specialty skill, don’t be afraid to form culture-sharing partnerships with schools or universities that prioritize cultural exchange in other countries. In the US there is a whole visa classification for this kind of travel: the J-1. If you get a J-1, it’s important to follow the rules of the visa to enjoy continued access to it the future. It is also important to research program sponsors that fit the kind of cultural experience you will bring to the table.
I Know You Need Money
The issue of needing money to get started is familiar to women everywhere. It can be difficult to launch out into a dream with no finances to pursue it. Sometimes, though, the research has to come first.
Take out the time to research and define what you can offer the world. Then, take all the free steps you can. Study. Network. Practice. Be where the action is. The combination of knowing the right things at the right time in front of the right people could change your life.
And if you want to, you can get married to the person of your choice later. 😉