To hear the term successful Africans might sound redundant if you have grown up in an African home with African parents who made success a requirement for their love (just kidding…kinda). Although Sub-Saharan Africans comprise of less than 5% of the immigrant population in the United States, research shows that their rate has increased over 40% in the past decade. While Nigerians have been identified as the most educated and successful immigrant group, collectively Africans “experience poverty at higher rates than immigrants overall” According to Abisola Shof, the host of the podcast “The Successful Africans” this shouldn’t be so. If even one African is thriving, the community can thrive alongside. . . if only we knew each other stories.
Though not currently naturalized, Abisola is as American as they come. She arrived in the US to attend college, obtained her Masters in Economics, and 15 years later is working as a research associate and analyst. At her full time job, she is dedicated to improving the quality and cost of healthcare for Americans. In her spare time, however, she dedicates herself to business ventures not solely for the goal of self-advancement, but for the community.
Abisola and her husband initially started a podcast titled Life and Some Jara which focused on lifestyle topics relating to the African community. She and her husband would banter about several issues from relationships to money management, but it was their episode on African Time which caught a lot of attention. In this episode the hosts challenged the practice of being late to events as one that not cost people’s time, but cost their money. When planning for the next season of their podcast, a listening workshop led to more discussions about maximizing opportunities, generating wealth, and achieving success. Abisola and her husband quickly identified a need for information and support in learning to turn time into money.
Much like other cultures, the African community tends to be tight-lipped about their success. Whether it is because of fear of competition or the evil eye, people generally do not disclose their methods, trials, and triumphs, and when finally reaping the fruits of their labor behind the scenes, often attribute their success to some ethereal act of nature.
We need to be comfortable telling our stories. No one is sharing, but we need to help the community. We don’t have to hustle independently.Abisola Shof
So this is what makes “The Successful African “podcast somewhat radical as it showcases how “everyday people achiev[e] mega-success in their careers, businesses, and creative endeavours” in order to cultivate vision for the listener who could one day end up a guest on the show. Abisola has interviewed a gamut of high achievers from Addie Alabor, founder of fashion brand Diyanu. Cynthia Andrew, attorney-turned paid travel blogger and social media influencer, Chiko Abengowe, investor, entrepreneur and restaurateur Fola Jinadu, owner of The Suya Spot (in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland by the way! woot woot!) just to name a few. Each of her guests share the intricacies of their various industries, their accomplishments and their failures. Many of them share stories about their sacrifices, and how they came from very little before they could achieve success in their endeavors. What speaks more to the American Dream than stories like these? The series has completed 11 episodes, with about 300 downloads per episode.
Abisola hopes that the podcast and social events can cultivate an openness to new relationships and new ideas. A goal of this initiative is to inspire others to pursue and invest in their dreams in land where doing so is possible. However, for Abisola success is not measured by dollar amounts and physical comfort, and the African community in the United States is not the only one she wants to see thriving. Whereas some people may emotionally detach themselves from their home country because of the struggles induced by systemic corruption, the host of “The Successful Africans” makes it he social responsibility to also serve her community back home. Whether it is through meeting individual needs, equipping people with resources to accomplish their goals, or brainstorming ideas The Shofs live out their commitment to seeing Africans everywhere optimize their potential, Because for them, their success is the community’s pride.
Connecting, being transparent, and building community is just part of Abisola’s DNA. In the most recent episode of “The Successful Africans,” she takes time to process the murder of George Floyd as an African immigrant. In full disclosure, she shares her own journey in coming to understand the meaning and implications of race in the United States. As an immigrant, her reference point for identity were solely based on whether someone was foreign-born or native. Her approach to storytelling fosters the relatability needed to impact everyday people, a personal goal of hers. In addition to the podcast and other business ventures with her husband, Abisola has orchestrated walks with women for friends or soon to be friends, giving them an opportunity to not just network, but support each other as women. As if she doesn’t already have a lot on her plate with a full time job, being a mom, wife, entrepreneur, and podcast host Abisola is also a lifestyle blogger where she unashamedly shares her view of the world which often includes African slang. No worries. She provides a glossary if you’re like whaaa? She herself embodies what it means to be a successful African.