International Women’s Day – As a small business owner at 16, Funmi Oyapero knows nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication
This year, for International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating some of the amazing women who are turning possibilities into realities – and Funmi Oyapero is a shining example of this. At just 16-years-old, Funmi established herself as an entrepreneurial leader and was nominated for a Ted Rogers scholarship by Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment, a Centre that is dedicated to empowering girls and young women between the ages of 7 to 17 through programs focused on art, life skills, academic success and leadership.
We asked Funmi a few questions around International Women’s Day, who inspires her and what motivates her, all at such a young age.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day means a lot to me. Women are inspirational in all aspects of life, they are strong, beautiful, talented and so much more. Women have endured long battles for basic rights such as gender equality, equal pay or just being recognized in the workforce as equals and valuable assets. We have come so far from what we were once were limited to. International Women’s day is a celebration of every woman and a reminder that we are just as capable of accomplishing what any other gender can. It is important to have a day that honours women so that the younger generation of girls always remember how important, loved and capable they are.
Tell us about your connection to Rogers and the Jean Augustine Centre.
Jean Augustine is a very important role model in my life. Her long list of lifetime achievements inspires me every day. It was an honour to be the recipient of the centre’s scholarship. I was lucky to receive the Ted Rogers scholarship through the Jean Augustine centre as a student that embodies the centre’s virtues. I am also looking forward to doing more work with the centre such as entrepreneurial workshops with the younger girls in the centre. The Ted Rogers scholarship is helping me to finance my tuition as well as providing me with opportunities to help myself grow as a professional in the workplace as I continue with my degree!
Who has been an inspiration in your life, and why?
I have been blessed with being able to say I have many role models present in my life such as my mother. My mother who relocated to Canada 16 years ago, learn an entirely new language and obtain a nursing degree to help my father support our family. My mother has had to overcome many obstacles in her life and has had to sacrifice so much to allow me to have the best opportunity at a better life. She has never given up when life became difficult and always puts her children before herself. In addition, I have had many inspirational female teachers at my high school, Father Henry Carr C.S.S. My teachers helped to keep me on the right track during my time spent in high school, and really became mother figures to me as well during my time spent there. Watching these beautiful women teach so passionately about their subjects (Math, Art and English) inspired me to also want to find a career that makes me happy to come to work every day.
What would you say to young girls of today?
I would tell the young girls of today that this is age is the best time to take risks and try everything to see which career you may best fit in to. As teenagers, we do not yet have all of the responsibilities of the adult world which gives us the opportunity to be able to afford to go through the trial-and-error process of figuring out who we really want to be. I myself had once thought that I would be best suited for the field of medicine until getting an opportunity to do co-op at St. Michaels hospital. I found myself more drawn to the business aspect of the hospital instead of surgery or nursing. There are several opportunities waiting for students to take the initiative to try, so try everything! You never know what you might really like.
Tell us a little more about yourself, and any personal interests or details you’d like to share.
I am currently in my first year of university at the University of Ottawa and I am pursuing a degree in Business with a specialization in accounting. I have very big dreams for the future and one of them is becoming a CPA and being able to work for some of the largest businesses or financial corporations in the world.
I also plan to keep my little business that I started at 16 going for as long as I can. I am currently using my business to help other small businesses grow, and at this point in time, helping people makes me happy, I do not think that will change anytime soon! I also have both worked and volunteered for children’s summer camps for almost four years now and I love being a counsellor and working with children. Working with children is another passion of mine because I see an opportunity to contribute positively to their lives the same way so many women have contributed positively to mine. I am not where I want to be in life yet, but I am satisfied with knowing that the hard work that I try my best to put into each very different section of my life will help me to become the woman I see myself as in 10 years.
As long as I remember every day that nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication, I know that I will be able to one day turn these possibilities into realities.