Twenty-six delegates of the Nigerian Quintessential Business Women Association visited Brenau University on Tuesday in Gainesville and met for a question-and-answer session with students.
The Nigerian Quintessential Business Women Association is a social business enterprise designed to develop business initiatives in the agricultural and solid mineral sector. It comprises women who overcame gender roles in Nigeria to create businesses of their own.
“It is quite an opportunity to bring such a powerful group of women leaders to our campus for the benefit of our students,” said Ken Frank, professor of political science and legal studies at Brenau, in a news release from the university.
Dr. Gnimbin Ouattara, an Ivory Coast native and history professor at Brenau, moderated the question-and-answer session. Questions were directed to the 26 delegates and the president and founder of the association, Shimite Katung.
“You all should be thinking about tomorrow,” Katung said to the students. “This world is so much tougher than yesterday that you don’t have a choice. ... You need to get out and see what is going on because there is only so much they can teach you here.”
Katung said the women in the association had to overcome avariety of obstacles to become businesswomen. In Nigeria, a woman is expected to be completely obedient to her husband, and many of the women did not have time or their husbands’ support.
“Especially kids from America and Europe, you take what you have for granted so much so that one day you will sit in a place of authority in this country, and you won’t find yourself anywhere,” Katung said.
Ouattara said he and his students often discuss the difference in his culture and their American culture. He said these differences can spark important dialogue.
“Whenever I talk to students or people about issues, my life comes up, their life comes up, and I encourage my students to ask any questions that may come through them,” he said.
Adriana Acosta, Brenau student and Colombia native, asked how Nigerian men react to the idea of women business owners.
“Nigerian men are like gods,” explained Hassaana Jummai Adamu, commissioner for women’s affairs for the association. “They are the heads of the family and nothing can be done without their permission. But with the coming of education, women are now educated and can do whatever any man can do.”
Delegate Judith Tanko Musa said her husband had another business venture he wanted her to work on. She did so, while working on her own business.
“Now he has seen the light,” Musa said. “He has to allowed me to do what I want to do, and that is why I am where I’m at today.”
Katung said the association hopes to build a manufacturing plant in Georgia, which would economically benefit Nigeria and the U.S. She and the delegates were invited to the state by the International Women’s think Tank of Atlanta and will be in the state through Friday.