2014 Anniversary Issue

Page 55

Mariama Mounir Camara-Petrolawicz is the founder and creative director of Mariama Fashion Production and the Co-founder of There Is No Limit Foundation. She is an entrepreneur and humanitarian born in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa. Mariama is one of the most influential rising African women in philanthropy and fashion. Her inspiring presence reflects her power, optimism and energy. Her entrepreneurial spirit and humanitarian work has led her to interact with some of the most influential individuals in the business, entertainment, political, and nonprofit sectors. She lived in Senegal and has travelled to various countries in Africa, America and Europe. In 2001,she moved to New York City and started working in fashion. Mariama's focus is on sourcing and developing talents throughout Africa by building powerful collaborations with fashion and home designers. Her objective is to highlight the talents of local artisans, create jobs and provide them with opportunities to access international market. Cosmopolitan Magazine chose Mariama as a Fun and Fearless female and referred to her as a dream weaver. Your love for fashion is evident through your Mariama Fashion Production brand, what role; if any, do you think fashion plays in creating identities? Fashion is the barometer for our society. Each style represents the story of an individual and their hopes or dreams. Fashion helps people say who they are without even opening their mouth. It is the distinctive mark that separates and unites us. Fashion is everywhere and is everything; you don't have to be a millionaire to be fashionable. Fashion is also about finding the unique pieces that show who you are, that is why I am working to bring African prints in the market. Our prints allow individuals to express their uniqueness in a vibrant and classic way. Everyone can find themselves in African print and we can make sure it is here to stay by putting the right pieces together and that is what I am doing through my company Mariama Fashion Production, I am helping designers and people in general to do just that.

As the co-founder of There Is No Limit Foundation, what impact has your philanthropy work had on your life and that of others? I started There Is No Limit Foundation with my sister Aissata M.B. Camara. She is my partner, best friend and one of my inspirations. We started There Is No Limit Foundation in 2008 with a goal to give back to the less fortunate. We wanted to make sure

individuals are given the opportunity to change their lives and not just be provided with another handout. We believe entrepreneurship is one of the best ways out of poverty. We also believe that advancing education, agriculture, health and sanitation will lead to improving the well being of the poor. We have been working with girls at Tombo II Primary School since 2008 by providing them with school supplies. Here is the story of Fatoumata Bangoura, her story is just one example of how we are making a difference: We first met Fatoumata Bangoura in 2008 when she applied for a loan through our micro-finance “Soussi” program. A single mother and victim of domestic violence, she was struggling to keep her business afloat. We gave her an interest free loan of $200 in order to grow her business; she received subsequent loans based on her success and the needs of her business. She started selling her tie-dye in open markets and soon formed groups with other women in town. In order to harness the power and creativity of these women entrepreneurs, we formed the Association of Women Tie-Dyers. Fatoumata is the President of the association; she works diligently to help other women achieve their goal of operating their own business. She has remarried and has become more confident and outspoken. She said “I did not know the value of my work, There Is No Limit Foundation has helped me understand the value of my skills and now I want to work harder”[]