Written by Arese Agwu, this book follows the lives of 5 young and professional African women and their journeys to financial freedom, or as the title prefaces, to being a smart money woman, and what that means in this current climate on the African continent. Concepts like black tax and the financial burden of dealing with funerals. all beautifully narrated through storytelling.
“I can’t believe this is happening to me! Zuri panicked as she shook her head and stared at her account balance. It was the middle of the month and she had a little over eighty thousand (Naira) left in her bank.
To be fair, this would seem like a lot to some, but her expenses told a different story. This balance would barely make a dent in the bills she had piled up, and she wasn’t expecting any new funds ‘til the end of the month. Even then, she wouldn’t be able to cover the bills that has just arrived.”
In the very first chapter of The Smart Money Woman, this is how we are introduced to Zuri Goubadia, the protagonist of The Smart Money Book series, who finds herself in a position most women (African to millennial) know all too well, living from paycheck to paycheck with a middle-class lifestyle. Set in the hustle and bustle of Lagos, Nigeria, the book follows Zuri as she tackles debt, building her wealth, her career and relationships. She is joined on this journey by her friends Tami, Ladun, Adesuwa and Lara whose different circumstances and relationship with money adds to the texture of the multi-dimensional representation and complexity of the black woman (across the Diaspora and continent) in dealing with life’s many money ups and downs.
The author, Arese Ugwu is a high-powered entrepreneur in wealth management, executive producer and the voice behind The Smart Money Tribe podcast. She credits much of her success the many years in corporate Nigeria, being educated across Africa, Europe and Asia, and her own financial freedom journey.
I met Arese in 2019 at one of the events for the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, and since then I've consumed and engaged with her products (from the books to the interviews) as she communicates financial management with a rich finesses.
Throughout the book series, Arese employs a principle of communicating financial wellness and wealth creation effortlessly through the circumstances of Zuri and her tribe, coupled with Smart Money Lessons and exercises that are practical enough even for the non-financial reader who is flirting with the idea of investing and financial freedom.
In the first book, The Smart Money Woman, where we first meet Zuri who finds herself in an insurmountable amount of debt, we are ushered into her state of wellbeing as she navigates her fears and beliefs about money that have led her to only a few thousand Nairas. Through the lived experiences of her shared relationships, the book does justice to unloading concepts like financial abuse, intrapreneurship, emergency funds, the power of networking and understanding the roots of your money language.
The evolution of Zuri, Tami, Ladun, Adesuwa and Lara’s relationship unfolds in The Smart Money Tribe, as Arese provides the readers with the Guide to Making Bank through the main theme of the book of group economics. From setting financial boundaries with family, to the transition of a lifestyle adjustment and raising capital for your business to setting a framework for group savings and investment consortiums, the second book of the series expands the concept of what a Smart Money Woman is and how her network influences her networth.
“Intrapreneurship is the implementation of start-up practices in large corporations to produce valued innovation. Those kinds of workers are value-driven, adopt critical thinking methodologies and use innovation to solve problems within the business.” – Smart Money Lesson, Intrapreneurship: Chapter 4, The Smart Money Tribe
How do all of these converge to bring you best-selling books that have impacted women across the continent to invest and build their wealth, and fall in love with these five fictional characters who have now been turned into a TV series? You’ll have to read the many chapters to find out.
Conversations about money for me have always been anxiety inducing, unless it was about spending it. As I’m going through my own Zuri (with a bit of Lara and Tami) financial journey of wealth creation through Vuyolwethu as a Service and InnovTel, all while in a wahala of a global pandemic, going into the new year with these two books that I re-read from December January to 2021 was the exact guide and affirmation that I needed.
The Smart Money Woman and The Smart Money Tribe are the books you need if you are ready to start making the necessary steps to understand the financial situation of your life, and take responsibility of the relationship that you have with money, as well the language and mindset that you carry about money into your relationships across the many facets of your life. And, with the Yoruba and pidgin spoken in the books, I’m positive that my next trip to Nigeria will be filled with more jollof and spicy rice, and a better understanding of the language.