As an entrepreneur (and now a newly minted TV showrunner) Arese Ugwu has built an impressive body of work centred in personal finance in an often hostile environment that can easily hinder it. The author speaks to TW Magazine about finding the sweet spot of creating community, making mistakes and creating something memorable. For Ugwu, building resilience and leveraging her network are two keys in the formula of achieving her goals and building her dreams.

Check out excerpts from her interview below:

On the Journey from Author to Executive Producer

It’s surreal! Every time I think about how this all started I feel a deep sense of fulfilment. A few years ago The Smart Money Woman was just an idea, now it has birthed two best selling books, a Pan-African Book tour and now a 13 episode television series. It is a movement that has made personal finance cool.

I believe that nobody achieves anything truly great alone. We all need people. Turning this book into a television series as a first time filmmaker was no easy feat, but I was blessed to work with some of the most talented people who truly believed in my vision and fought hard to help me accomplish what we set out to create. There’s nothing more powerful than that!

On Perception, being a Millennial Money Expert & Impostor Syndrome 

It might be my impostor syndrome speaking right now but if I’m honest I’ve never been comfortable with being referred to as a money expert because the word expert connotes perfection, and although I’ve written two books about personal finance I am not perfect when it comes to my money. However, personal finance is a subject I’m genuinely interested in and passionate about. In making my own mistakes I have found strategies that have worked for me, and the thousands of other people who have read my books, whose financial lives have been improved.

On the Smart Money Woman characters and Money Habits

Each character represents a pain point with money that is relatable to African millennial women. Zuri represents the woman who is intelligent, knows how to get money but has a spending problem, so has no assets to show for it. Tami is on an entrepreneurial journey and illustrates the obstacles that are peculiar to female entrepreneurs in this part of the world. Ladun represents what to do when you are living in ‘lala’ land and then your world turns upside down, Lara deals with black tax and familial pressures while Adesuwa deals with financial abuse in her marriage.

On Differences Between the Books and the Show

They’ll connect to the friendship. They’ll connect to the money stories. I don’t want to spoil the surprises but there are quite a few additional story lines that were not in the book… so people can look forward to that.

On Lessons Learned & The Film Making Process

I’ve always respected filmmakers especially in Nollywood, because they created a whole industry on their backs with no government support or infrastructure, but going through this process made me see how incredibly difficult it is to produce in Nigeria. There were numerous obstacles but I learned patience, it reinforced my resilience and my belief that your network is truly your net worth.


Photography @remiadetiba

Read the full interview of TW Magazine‘s Special Issue here