Connect with us


Banke Balogun & Abisola Ogunkanbi Created Naija Gal Network to Help Nigerian Women Succeed in their Careers

Avatar photo



On one particular July evening in Silverlake, CA, Banke Balogun and Abisola Ogunkanbi met at a restaurant to catch up over cocktails. While eating dinner and having conversations, the two Nigerian ladies decided to create the Naija Gal Network, a global digital community for Nigerian women focusing on their social and professional development.

“We met at the AfroTech happy hour in LA like forever ago now. Abisola recounts, ” Chatting with another gal, Banke heard my accent and asked if I was Nigerian, and I was like yes, and she was like me too. We chatted and laughed about the year and the virtual event; it was lovely. We then exchanged numbers as well as social media and planned on having dinner that month.”

From a virtual Afrotech during the pandemic to a dinner in Silverlake and then the birth of the Naija Gal Network, Banke’s version of how they met is a bit tilted towards fate. “I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason—we were meant to meet. It’s crazy because I was on the fence about attending the happy hour because of the pandemic, but I had a little pep talk with myself and said, You have to go; you never know who you’ll meet. We met up for dinner later on in the month, and we instantly clicked.”

Born from a shared vision during the pandemic, the Naija Gal Network is empowering Nigerian women to connect, grow, and excel. Recognising the need for a digital space dedicated to supporting and connecting Nigerian women, Abisola and Banke created this platform. This lack of a dedicated online space created challenges for Nigerian women seeking mentors, peers, and professional development.

“Abisola and I were inspired to create Naija Gal Network,” Banke explains, highlighting the network’s focus on empowerment and support. “Nigerian women are killing the game across the globe, and we wanted to provide a platform for all of us to connect and mitigate any roadblocks that some of us might face, especially during and after the pandemic.”

Building a strong community takes time and effort. Since its launch in 2022, Naija Gal Network has faced one hurdle: recruitment. “Recruitment, during COVID, was hard due to job security.” Abisola acknowledges and elaborates on how they adapted their approach: “We chose to focus on our website and events towards solutions such as mentorship, career Q&A in the virtual happy hours, and creating an active job board on the website.” Hinting at exciting plans for the future, Banke concludes, “The past few years have been challenging for everyone, but stay tuned for future opportunities. We have some exciting things planned.”

A solution engineer, model, and fashion blogger, Banke wears many hats. You might wonder how these disparate skills help her lead and manage NGN. She explains that each “hat” she wears offers a unique lens for approaching leadership. “I have a very interesting career trajectory, and I feel very blessed to have a diverse range of career fields. This has helped me analyse how to run NGN to fit the needs of our members and identify what each member may need. As a model and fashion blogger, it’s helped me tap into my creativity with how we run the organisation. This includes branding, networking, and understanding the latest trends and how each member identifies with those trends.”

At the core of Naija Gal Network’s mission is empowerment. For Banke, empowerment is about having the support to achieve self-sufficiency in working towards your goals. “NGN empowers women by providing members with the resources they need to excel in their goals. This looks different for each member; for some, it may be having an accountability partner to work towards a fitness goal, and for others, it may be finding a mentor to guide them on a career path.”

Now, let’s get to the fun part of the interesting conversation where we get to know more about the founding ladies of NGN.

Abisola is passionate about learning and healthy living. She strongly believes in ‘feel good, look good.’ For her go-to power song to get motivated, she listens to Who Is She” by Queen Herby, while Banke listens to “Peace of Mind” by Rema.

Movies or series? And what movie or series are you currently watching?

Abisola: Absolutely series! I am currently still watching “Grey’s Anatomy.

Banke: Definitely a series type of gal. I am currently watching “Desperate Housewives.

What’s the best word to describe each other?

Banke: Abisola is resilient.

Abisola: Banke is persistent.

To wrap up this conversation, looking at your career paths, what’s one piece of advice you’d give a young Nigerian woman starting today?

Abisola: Fail fast. When you give your 100%, you leave no crumbs or room for regret. 9 times out of 10, the experience you garnered from the failed effort is repurposable or leverageable in your next venture, opportunity, or role.

Banke: Cultivate a strong network; surround yourself with people who will advocate for you consistently. Most of the opportunities I’ve obtained in my career path were due to word of mouth and sometimes to the lasting (great) impression I left on the person, organisation, team, etc.

Star Features