The foundation of WISCAR was inspired by a keenly felt societal need. During her long professional and corporate career the founder, Mrs Amina Oyagbola, constantly recognised a gaping need for an institutional framework that would provide to professional women inspiration, motivation, guidance and support to help them better navigate their different career pathways. Mrs Oyagbola very quickly realised that in Africa generally and Nigeria specifically many bright female career prospects are lighted very early by an absence of any form of support network or mentorship framework on which such prospect could draw for a proper road map to career success.
As young women climb up the career ladder they often find it more and more difficult to overcome both the tangible and the intangible obstacles that stand in the way of success. Without the right guidance and support they become isolated, lose their confidence and often merely fade away from any professional relevance.
As a result, there has been a constant wasting or junking of Nigeria’s vast female talent and potential.
This problem is merely the tip of the iceberg. The deep seated social political and economic problems that affect many Nigerians affect womenfolk even more acutely. The girl child is very early beset by problems such as lower rates of primary school enrolment than boys. These problems grow from there and culminate in much lower levels of The WISCAR Story economic involvement and empowerment, negligible political representation and almost a total inability to legally protect themselves from assaults to their persons and property. The outlook for the average female child in Nigeria today is indeed a dismal one. This has major consequences for Nigeria’s ability to meet the challenge of rapid and effective social, political and economic development. The consequences are clear… since women constitute half of Nigeria’s population, holding them back would mean holding back half of Nigeria’s human resource potential.
Mrs. Oyagbola realised that the solutions to these endemic problems have to be institutional and that appropriate mechanisms would have to be used to successfully address the problems of gender inequality and opportunity in Nigeria.
By helping to unleash the energy, creativity and productivity of women, Mrs Oyagbola realised that she would be supporting several existing programs and efforts of the Nigerian Government such as NEEDS and the seven point agenda as well as multilateral initiatives such as NEPAD.
After careful deliberation and consultation Mrs Oyagbola concluded that she could best intervene and play a part in constructive development by assisting women at the beginnings of their careers. She decided to set up a mentoring network offering strategic guidance and support to young women.
However, in order to make a real impact, it would have to be a mentoring network with a difference! It would have to combine personal and cultural sensitivity with international know how. It would therefore have to create a strategic mentoring platform that would meet the highest international standards in terms of service delivery, best practice and the use of technology while remaining responsive to the individual needs of the young women and the socio-cultural context within which they live.
The vision thus emerged of WISCAR as a network that would establish such a mentoring platform for women in careers and use the best technology to deliver its services. It would involve one-on-one interaction in a structured framework between the mentees and experienced mentors to whom they would have unique access for advice and to help resolve career challenges. One of the main motivations for such an approach is that, if successful, it could be replicated nationwide and even across Africa. It could also help a significantly higher number of women reach the top of their chosen professions.