#SMWLagosExperiences: Cherae Robinson

#SMWLagosExperiences: Cherae Robinson
September 8, 2014 Niama Sandy

We love sharing the #SMWLagosExperiences of our  participants! This time we caught up with accomplished “intrapreneur” and two-time SMW Lagos event partner Cherae Robinson!

Cherae has nearly a decade of experience in external relations for global non-profit organizations with specialized knowledge in public private partnerships in agriculture. Passionate about travel, Africa, and connecting the diaspora, Cherae has visited more than 30 countries, 8 of them in Africa. In 2012 she realized one of her biggest dreams when she took 80 young professionals to Africa and founded the Afripolitans, a collective of professionals interested in creating a stronger narrative on Africa through commerce, connections, and creativity. Committed to being a “game-changer” in how the world sees Africa, Ms. Robinson’s vision has revealed itself in the creation of Rare Customs, a tourism consultancy that focuses on creating a digital face for emerging destinations in Africa.

On September 9 at 7 p.m. EST, Cherae kicks off the first of what is sure to be many installments of a new online show called “#New Rules: African Business for the Next Generation.” Co-hosted by Kwame Som-Pimpong, the show will broadcast live on Google Hangouts. Each episode will be available on the Rare Customs YouTube channel immediately afterward. The premiere episode will focus on last month’s US Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. Submit your questions for the show to info(at)rarecustoms.com

This is what Cherae shared about her time at SMW Lagos 2014:

Social Media Week Lagos is an amazing opportunity to check the pulse of millennial innovators in West Africa. I’ve spent my career traveling throughout Africa and Asia working for International NGO’s CARE and CIMMYT and wanted to be able to begin to connect and share the stories of Africa’s future rather than solely focusing on the development challenges facing the continent. As the Founder of the Afripolitans and the CEO of Rare Customs, my mission is to connect African descendants in the United States to modern, cosmopolitan Africa through travel and entrepreneurship. This year’s SMW Lagos didn’t disappoint – the tracks helped focus people interested in specific things like music and travel and there was definitely a decidedly entrepreneur-focused atmosphere. There were even startup competitions, pitch days, and venture capital presence which I was impressed by.

I traveled to Lagos with members of the Afripolitans, each of us with different agenda’s but all of us excited about touching down in Las Gidi! I spoke on a panel at the inaugural SMW Lagos, as did a different group of Afripolitans, from that experience we had to do it again. This year I created two travel related panels, one focused on technology and the other focused on culture. Putting together a panel is not easy but I was fortunate to bring together a dynamic group of people for both.  For the tech panel I focused on entrepreneurs who used apps and social media to build their brands. Luvvie Ajayi and Tiwaworks offered their perspective on how their digital conversations on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have sparked a league of followers interested in traveling to the places on the continent that they mention so often. I also had the chance to preview the Tastemakers app which puts cosmopolitan Africa at the fingertips of users all over the world. We had a few Google Hangouts to run through the questions and flow of the panel but much of the content really focused on us being able to read the audience and feed off of their interest and curiosity. The audience really got into the panel and asked lots of questions. One of the best things is that you end up connecting with people earlier in the week and get to know them throughout the time you are there. You see people at nightclubs, at lounges, and all over Lagos and get a first hand experience in the city.

My second panel really focused on how much arts & culture drive tourism. Remi Adetiba, judge on Africa’s Top Model, Tiwaworks, and Evita Robinson, founder of The Nomadness Travel Tribe, all offered insights on how fashion, art, and music drive where they travel and how much of an impact the “scene” has on their travel experiences. We ended up meeting some dynamic people from the audience. I actually am a staff writer for Face2Face Africa as a result of meeting Editor-In-Chief Abena Agyeman-Fisher at the end of the session.

In preparing for both panels I really wanted the audience to be able to take away the idea that 1. “We are in this together” and 2. That there is enough opportunity for all of us. I chose panelists from a range of perspectives to really inspire people to carve their own niche but use forums like SMW Lagos to understand process, expand their reach, and to potentially find mentors which I strongly believe in. Managing panelists can be difficult, but in choosing people who were more concerned with service through teaching vs. ego, we were really able to provide content that was well embraced.”

Would you like to be featured in this section? Send an e-mail with your reflections on SMW Lagos 2014 to niama@Societyhae.com.


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