#PeopleOfWilmDE: Nyemade Boiwu

Nyemade Boiwu is an entrepreneur, owner of African Butterfly Enterprises and is this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE. Read her story below.

I was living in Tampa and after I turned 30 I decided that I wanted to change my career path. I’d been working at Bank of America for 10 years but had no interest in banking. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my tenure there doing learning and development, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I decided I wanted to build a career doing trainings and presentations on topics that matter to me. I also wanted to work my way towards production by beginning to create content for myself through social media. I lived in Tampa at the time but knew I wanted to be closer to more major cities. At the time I was working in the social media department of the bank and we had several locations around the country including Delaware. My older sister, Ajawavi Ajavon, lives here and it’s only 5.5 hours away from where my mom lives just outside of Rochester, NY. I requested to be transferred to the Delaware office and moved the following year in 2018.

Three interesting things about me are:

Nyemade Boiwu of Wilmington, DE.
  1. I was born in Liberia and came to the US when I was 5 yrs old due to the civil war in my country.
  2. I play several instruments but the viola was my main focus. I played in my school orchestra as well as a few orchestra groups in the community through high school and college. 
  3. I’m currently obsessed with Korean dramas. I talk about them a lot on social media, especially tiktok, and I just became a Social Media Ambassador for HelloTalk Korean to learn the language. 

Shortly after I moved to Delaware I was fortunate to have an op-ed piece I wrote, “People with depression are neither weak nor selfish“ published in The News Journal. That article led to several people reaching out to me and was the beginning of several friendships I still have today. It also earned me my first of several Delaware Press Association Communication Contest Awards.  The article was one of the first times I’d talked publicly about my struggles with clinical depression but I’m glad I did. The number of people who felt comfortable sharing their struggles with me as a result helped me realize the importance of using my gift of communication to help others in the area of mental health. I began volunteering with NAMI Delaware. I did community presentations, taught courses, and helped with social media content. I also created Sharing Hope Community Conversations when the pandemic began. It has since been adopted by the national organization. In 2020 I was recognized as Volunteer of the Year. The following year I began a 2 year fellowship with NAMI Delaware. In addition to my advocacy work with them I also utilize my social media presence to bring awareness to mental health. I have an IG Live Series that I began by interviewing local Delaware residents and has since evolved into national guests. The series, What’s On Your Mind, is now a part of the Feel Good Talk network that was created here in Wilmington DE by Charles, DJ Chuck B. I go live each Thursday at 6pm to speak with different individuals about topics that impact our mental health. I speak to a mix of mental health professionals and individuals with lived experiences. I’m grateful for the opportunities having the initial article published opened for me. I still do a lot of freelance writing today and also wrote a children’s book; I hope to get a literary agent to publish soon. Wilmington also has several cute book stories like Books & Bagels and cafes like Milk & Honey that hold readings. I enjoy attending them and can’t wait to participate in one day.

For me a great night out in Wilmington would kick off with dinner at Bardea or Oath 84. After that we’d head to House of Laffs for some entertainment (unfortunately, it’s no longer open). Post-show, it’s fun to go out for drinks. The location would depend on our mood. For a more upscale vibe the stunning views of the city skyline at the Quion Hotel Rooftop Bar & Speakeasy is perfect. For a livelier scene, Merchant Bar has an energetic atmosphere and diverse drink menu.

Living in Wilmington has been immensely beneficial both professionally and personally due to the strong sense of community and the willingness of people to support one another. Professionally, the accessibility to leaders of organizations and government officials makes networking and collaboration effortless. On a personal level, the supportive community atmosphere helped me feel a sense of belonging and connection quickly. Whether it’s local events, neighborhood gatherings, or civic engagement initiatives, there are a ton of opportunities to forge meaningful relationships and contribute positively to the community. Also, family is immensely important to me so living in the same city as my sister and being within driving distance of my other siblings so I can see them more often now is something I cherish. 

I’ve really grown to love the city. Most people are friendly and it makes meeting new people enjoyable. I also love how central it is to the larger cities. As my career continues to grow I’m able to accept speaking engagements and attend events in the several major cities because of the central location of Wilmington. Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, and NYC are all a quick drive away so they can be visited within a day trip.

As a resident of Wilmington, Delaware, I’d like to see our city continue evolving into a more inclusive and supportive community over the next few years, with a significant focus on enhancing disability and mental health resources. I would like to see the expansion of accessible facilities, programs, and services tailored to individuals with disabilities, ensuring they have equal opportunities to participate fully in all aspects of city life. I hope for the development of more comprehensive mental health resources, including increased access to counseling, therapy, and support groups. I want to help with the implementation of educational initiatives to promote understanding and empathy towards individuals with disabilities and mental health challenges. By destigmatizing seeking help through fostering a culture of acceptance and support, we can create a more compassionate and inclusive community where everyone feels valued and supported. 

My favorite Wilmington attraction is Peace Week in the fall every year. It’s a week-long celebration with a focus on peace and understanding. There are a range of activities, from social events to educational forums, all over the city that foster unity among diverse communities and encourages collaboration. I participate each year as part of Stop The Violence Coalition/The Academy for Peace. We have a “Peace Café” at the academy with activities for kids, performances, community awards, and vendors. There’s also a Peace March down Market Street with the Fashion Steppers children drumline. Often we collaborate with other community organizations such as Mothers Demand Action or People to People.  Peace week promotes a culture of tolerance and inclusivity. It’s a great time to be in Wilmington. 

My advice to people working and living in Wilmington would be to embrace the diversity around us. Most of the people I’ve met in Wilmington are not Delaware natives. As a result, there’s so much diversity within the city. I often find an interesting story behind how the person landed in DE. If we spend more time talking to the individuals around us we’d learn almost everyone has a story.” 

Follow Nyemade on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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