Aisha Babangida is a visionary leader in business, finance and humanitarian work. As an idea-driven professional, she has made it her mission not only to communicate her ideas and beliefs with others, but to seek out real-world applications in finance, education, entrepreneurship, and more. Without creating a conversation, Babangida believes that we stunt our chances for growth. An exchange of ideas and understandings is the first step in progress. She also believes in the power for change encapsulated by a single person. If everyone leveraged that power, we can see a better world. Aisha acknowledges that many of us live more fortunate lives than our neighbors or families living far, far away from us, but that doesn’t we cannot use our fortune to change their lives as well. Just the same way that they have the ability to change our lives.
Aisha maintains a delicate approach to leadership, taking the reins on large initiatives while also motivating and empowering her staff to achieve greatness. In order to foster creativity, a leader must balance strength and business savvy with compassion, respect and humility. She believes that being a “lifelong learner” is essential for personal and professional growth, so she inspires her staff to attend various professional courses and events.
Babangida herself, frequently attends conferences and events in order to better educate the masses on the plight of the rural people, specifically women and children as well as educate herself on new and changing trends that could help better the lives of these communities she cares for so deeply. Being from Nigeria, Aisha feels a deep tie to her home country as a well as a duty to adequately portray it when on an international stage. There are a lot of challenges that come with being a public figure or being in the public eye and as a result, she tries to handle it with the utmost responsibility. Being from Nigeria and Africa as a whole brings a lot of misconceptions when working alongside foreign or outside aid organizations and Aisha feels as though she needs to create a more encompassing idea of what Nigeria when talking to people who aren’t familiar with her home. She also takes it upon herself to spotlight the flaws as well, to capture her home in its full-light. Everywhere has its flaws, but that doesn’t mean it does not also have beautiful things to offer.
Recently, Aisha founded Egwafin Microfinance Bank as part of ongoing efforts to socially and economically empower women through the Better Life Program for the African Rural Woman. As she transitioned into the role with the program, originally founded by her mother Maryam Babangida, she wanted to ensure its place in the new century and its role in helping not just Nigerians but Africans as a whole.
Given her background in finance, the bank is a wonderful outlet for Aisha’s personal skill set, but more importantly, it is a crucial resource for “unbankable” women to have access to funding and pursue their business ideas. Babangida believes that through financial inclusion and financially enabling women to participate in the economy, we will in turn see more opportunity for economic and sustainable development.
Better Life Program
Since 2010 Aisha has been the Chairman of the Better Life Program for the African Rural Woman, a non-governmental organization originally founded by her mother in 1986. Aisha revived Better Life in order to empower people with adult literacy programs, professional skills acquisition, and financial literacy. As described on the website, the goal is “to see an emergence of a well-informed, economically and socio-politically empowered African woman participating effectively in the process of national development and promotion of family values.”
In her time with the program, Aisha identified broader needs and applications for the Better Life Program, something she sees as a beautiful tribute to her mother. As Babangida continues to grow into the role, she loves being able to better the lives of African women and children from communities in need. The more work she does, the more opportunity she uncovers and the more programs she develops within the Better Life Program to resolve to a better life for all of Africa.
In addition to this, Aisha is the Founder of the Tasnim Foundation.
Babangida believes that everyone should take an active role in their community to help find success and help those around them achieve the same. In addition to her current work, Aisha was part of the Mara Foundation, mentoring young aspiring entrepreneurs. She loves being able to help young business men and women and offer them the encouragement they don’t always find from their family or friends. From 2014 to 2017 Aisha was the Director of North Link Insurance Company, and from 2013 to 2017 she was on the Governing Council of the University of Abuja. These positions gave her a great sense of responsibility, professionalism and overall growth. Babangida sees implementing skills in a real setting is the final step in ‘fully-acquiring’ these skills. If you never put them into real world practice, can you really say you’ve mastered it?
Her schooling includes the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and INSEAD. These educational experiences all factor into Aisha’s lifelong learning mission. It also reminds her that education needs to be an inherent part of every man, woman, or child’s life, something that isn’t yet a reality. Education is a gift that opens doors and perspectives.
Aisha Babangida emphasizes the importance of professionalism and corporate governance in everything she does. This is especially relevant in the cases of microfinance banks. The reason that most microfinance banks do not survive at the initial stage is lack of proper implementation of policies and corporate governance. Corporate governance is key to ensure the sustainability of a microfinance bank and that of the business it functions. With core elements of disclosure, integrity, responsibility and treatment of stakeholders, corporate governance leads to financial success and sustainability. To see a more reaching impact for microfinance, it is important for all of these financial institutions to uphold these values.
As she’s developed Egwafin Microfinance Bank, Aisha has dealt with various challenges: recruiting and training talented staff, implementing ideas, and properly matching a brand with its niche market, to name a few. She is now dedicated to sharing what she’s learned with aspiring entrepreneurs so that they can achieve success in business as well. She also sees it as an opportunity to give back to the microfinance community and encourage others to create lasting impacts.
Previously in Aisha’s career, she was part of the Mara Foundation, mentoring young aspiring entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2017 she was Director of North Link Insurance Company, and from 2013 to 2017 she was on the Governing Council of the University of Abuja. Her schooling includes the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and INSEAD (“The Business School for the World”). She also attended Webster University, the American University of Paris, Villa Pierrefeu, and even earned the enviable “Escofier Chef” title from Escofier Ritz Paris. Seeing education as essential aspect of the human experience, she constantly spends time learning and ensuring that everyone has access to necessary education. For us to continue to develop as a nation, we need to emphasize education for all.
Aisha has been conferred with the NCWS (Nigerian Council of Women Societies) as a Goodwill Ambassador due to her active role in advocacy and support for the Women in Nigeria. Her international experience ranges beyond her time at INSEAD: in 2015 she was invited to give a talk on Fostering Development Collaboration within the Global South at the African Development conference. She also created a presentation on the area of gender development for a conference organised by African Youth Leadership Network and held in Rwanda. In addition, she has helped promote Nigeria’s shea nut industry to the rest of the world by forming a productive alliance with the Global Shea Alliance promoted by USAid. Babangida loves feeling like she is in active part of Nigeria and Africa’s development. She’s encouraged by the possibility and potential on the horizon.
Aisha Babangida believes that for progress, all people all over the world need to come together and truly listen and exchange with one another. In the 21st century, we face a lot of conflict and division that stand as barriers to our success as a whole. It is our job to overcome these obstacles, by creating an international community and considering how our actions impact others. If we all took small steps toward change, the progress would be astounding.
Aisha Babangida created this website to share her insights in business and leadership, informed by her diverse and international experience. She also sees it as an opportunity to connect with diverse minds and exchange ideas and inspiration. As she grows her brand and initiatives, she has begun preparing for a monthly newsletter that people are invited to subscribe to.