From a young age, Moiyattu Banya loved hearing stories.
Banya was born in Sierra Leone, and she said she was impacted by a close-knit community of women around her. Banya has always loved to talk to women and hear their stories.
Now, she loves to tell those stories.
In 2011, Banya founded WomenChangeAfrica, a lifestyle blog that strives to highlight the untold stories of successful African women in different career fields. Banya is an adjunct professor of women’s and gender studies at Temple, and she taught a black feminism course at the University of the West Indies in the Caribbean last summer.
“We give these women a platform for visibility as they share their experiences and challenges in their work,” Banya said.
Banya first had the idea for WomenChangeAfrica when she noticed the slow progress women were making in the workforce in Africa. After some research, she realized women lacked the resources to sustain their own businesses.
“Women were making significant strides in business, but needed more support and resources, such as loans to take their businesses to the next level,” she said.
Banya uses the blog to provide women with opportunities to expand their businesses and to help promote African brands founded by women, which are oftentimes not featured elsewhere.
WomenChangeAfrica has a threefold mission focused on celebrating, cultivating and connecting African women in their careers, according to the website.
“It creates a unique, personal profile of what the African woman identity is,” Banya said.
Inspired by the women in her family, Banya has implemented the idea of sisterhood into her business.
“The best advice my mother ever gave me was to always treat people well and to build relationships with others,” she said. “I establish and maintain genuine relationships with the people and brands I help.”
True to her childhood love, storytelling has been an important part of WomenChangeAfrica. In 2014, Banya was one of 200 African women selected to attend a two-week creative nonfiction writing program in Uganda. It was the first time she published her work publicly.
“Writing raises visibility on issues and gives voices to communities that normally don’t,” Banya said.
Along with WomenChangeAfrica, Banya is the co-founder of the Girls Empowerment Summit Sierra Leone, which provides mentors hip for young girls ages 12 to 16 to help them become leaders of social change in their communities.
“We notice a change in behavior, confidence, maturity and family dynamic in the girls,” she said.
In her classroom at Temple, Banya pushes her students to think and challenge their peers.
“I want my students to understand every community individually, what makes women work together and to not make assumptions,” she said.
“It’s not about … how many people know your name, it’s about the impact you make,” Banya said.
Madison Hall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.