Adama Ndiaye Yetunde OdugbesanOmede Vickie Remoe Rania Belkahia Reine Essobmadje Cathia Dirath Naadiya Moosaje
Ladies FIRST !
« We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: «You can have ambition, but not too much, You should aim to be successful, but not too successful Otherwise, you will threaten the man.» You have certainly heard these words if you are a fan of author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. If you are an R&B /Pop fan, then you must have also heard it on one of the most listened to albums of the moment. But that is a whole other story. Unfortunately, these words ring true. Everyday, I see women who are defined by their relationships with men and not by what they are worth. And that is where the problem lies. There are many issues around Feminism in Africa, but I think it is crucial to first revisit our way of educating girls. It is important to teach them that before their husbands and before their families, it is their competences that define them. It is the hardest battle to fight because it entails a change in morals. Today, social pressure commands us to at the same time have an irreproachable professional carrier, to be good mothers, good sisters (no pun intended), good wives and good lovers. We strive to achieve this, all while smiling. Smiling because it is out of the question to complain! If we fight for equal opportunities, the least we have to do is be proactive. Therefore, African women prefer subtlety to force and the results are rather encouraging. The rate of female entrepreneurship in Africa is rising faster than any other continent: women run 48% of small and medium companies (p. 31). In 2013, the South African national assembly had 45% women; in Mozambique 39%.t In the same year in Rwanda, women represented 63,75% within the country’s parliament. A unique case in the entire world. It is true that Feminism and Emancipation are words we do not often hear on the streets of N’Djamena, Addis-Ababa or Kampala. But do not be mislead, the African woman is profoundly Feminist! Have a good Read! Joan Yombo.
Sources images :http://www.madeindesign.de/. www.google.com
INSPIR’NEWS // 6 INSPIR’FAVORITE // 8 Discover « Brazza-va-bien »
INSPIR’INTERVIEW // 12
ADAMA AMANDA NDIAYE : Wonderwoman from Senegal
INSPIR’ORGANIZATION // 17 Building bridges for women entrepreneurs
DARE TO INSPIRE // 21 The voice of women
INSPIR’START UP // 22 The impact of New Information Technologies in Africa
INSPIR’CAREER // 26 Fearless Vickie !
INSPIR’ECO // 30 The African woman : motor’s of the continent’s development
THOUGHTS // 32 What do they think about feminism ?
4 QUESTIONS TO... // 34 Afrimarket – Revolutionizing Money Transfert
FOCULTURE // 36 Strong African Women
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PUBLIC RELATIONS/PARTNERSHIPS IVAN NYETAM, HYACINTHE ISSOMBO, LAETITIA YOTA, ANITA BAKAL
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Exposition in Paris: Victor Omar Diop We owe him the magnificent shot of Adama Ndiaye on this issue’s cover. Victor Omar Diop is a talented photographer based in Dakar who despite his brand new carrier is being spoken of around the world. From Lisbon, to Panama, Victor Omar presents a diverse and original body of work. Our favorite ? T he « studio des vanités » (studio of vanities) where the artist revisits African traditional portraits with influential personalities posing in cultural African settings. You can find him at the « Maison de l’Afrique » in Paris and on http://www.omarviktor.com
Arthur Zang, finalist at the Rolex Award for Enterprises Since 1976, the Rolex Awards For Enterprises rewards entrepreneurs who contribute in advancing Science and improving the well-being of the planet. Amongst the 22 finalists selected from 129 countries is our dear Arthur Zang, inventor of the Cardio-pad (featured in Inspire Afrika magazine 7: New technologies of Africa). There is also the Rwandan Olivier Nsengimana who will represent the continent on the 24th June. Find out more on: http://www.rolexawards.com
The CEO of the year is a WOMAN Daphne Mashile-Nkosi is director of Kalagadi Manganese, a huge mining firm based in South Africa. An ex-militant, this business woman is the first to direct a mining company in her country, she is also CEO of Temoso Telecommunication, Kalahari Resources & Metmar Trading.
African city : the hit online series Some call it ther sucessor of Sex & the city but African City is also the story of five young talented and highly educated Ghanians who decided to return to the continent after years of living abroad. They have to readjust to the relities of Africa and rediscover their home country. Discover African city by Nicole Amateifo on https:// www.youtube.com/user/AnAfricanCity/videos
Become a shareholder of Kiro’o Games? If you loved our first Inspir’Talk where we met with Elyon, author of Cameroonian comic books and Olivier Madiba founder of Kiro’o Games 4. Today, Kiro’o Games is one of the first video game conception studios in Africa. The studio is selling it’s shares at 610 euros a share. With beneficial margins at 400% and returns in 2014. The first game : Aurion, will be on the market this year. It is one of the most awaited games of the gaming industry. To invest in this promising project, please contact the Kiro’o Games studio : email@example.com. Check out out Inspir’Talk on: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=2l5gz9Bq7EE
NOFI, the new doorway for black communication Launched in 2004 by Christian Dzellat-Nkoussou, Noir & Fier – NOFI (Black & Proud) is a sharing and exchange platform with the aim of « promoting black excellence ». The content is very diverse : news , goods destined for the afro community, an agenda of events and more. NOFI’s goal in the long run is to be the reference point for actors and influencers in the black community.
1/ http://www.rolexawards.com/finalists#19 2/ http://www.kalahariresources.co.za 3/ https://www.facebook.com/EbeneDuta 4/ http://kiroogames.com
Où se loger au Malawi ? We fell deeply in love with the cultural and artistic impact of this young entrepreneur, who is also an ex project director at a communications agency. Joyful and energetic, the editor of «Brazza-Va-Bien» magazine proves that it is easy to start-up on a project you are truly passionate about. « You have to own your confidence! » she says.
Hello and welcome Cathia! Can you please introduce yourself to our readers? My name is Cathia Dirath and I am originally from Congo. I have lived in France since the age of 3 and I am 33 years old. I have both an unusual yet coherent story to tell. I started studying advertising at the Higher Institute of Communication (ISCOM) in Paris, then I followed with a BTS in Business Communication, as it seemed to be a more complete training than the one I had done. ISCOM did not necessarily correspond to that global approach that I wanted. My professional experiences came quickly: I was a Communications Assistant in a small agency so I found myself in the professional world and I never wanted to leave it. I’m not a fan of the theoretical aspect of studies. I am rather pragmatic. For two years, I was a web project assistant in the field of e-health with clients such as SONY, SAMSUNG who also design medical equipment. I was immediately immersed in a dynamic and hyperactive environment. I returned to theory in order to have training on web multimedia, after that I became project director at « Radio Notre Dame ». It was the beginning of the web, no one really knew much about it, I had to be independent and solve issues on my own at home.
« I wanted to produce something that could be passed on to my children and future generations.»
How did you move from a web project director to Editor-in-Chief of a magazine? With all that experience, I started to get bored. I don’t like routine, and in some companies unfortunately, I did tend to have the same projects from one year to the other. After a few difficult moments in my personal life, I also felt the need to redefine myself. I had the idea to create a magazine for a long time, except that I did not know what kind of magazine to create. Like many girls, I had this fantasy of a fashion magazine. But
I quickly realized that it was a saturated space and that I would bring nothing new to it. I loved fashion, but not to that point.
« When there is something missing somewhere, instead of complaining, it is better to find a constructive solution.»
So you created «Brazza-Va-Bien ». What is the concept behind it and what is the message you are hoping to convey? After I gave up on the idea of a fashion magazine, I told myself that I wanted to produce something that could be passed on to my children and future generations. Yes, I agree, it is quite ambitious but my goal is that « Brazza-Va-Bien » becomes a source to which a young person looking for inspiration can turn to. I wanted to show examples of people that stand out, people that inspire. But also simple people, those I meet every day, those who take the risk to create. Free and passionate people. This way of seeing things remains the heart of the magazine. For 15 days, I worked on my editorial and on the line of thought that I wanted to give through the magazine. I barely slept for 3 weeks. I think that one of the keys to success is really to be passionate about what you are doing. That really fuels you. I admit that the magazine was also a therapy. It took courage to expose my ideas to others. It became very personal. You need to learn to take on critics, wipe away the refusals. You must stand by your ideas! The magazine has certain open-mindedness, which is interesting. You don’t necessarily focus on Africans but present diverse cultural influences... I come from the communication field just like you. So I am sure that you are aware of the black presence that is growing and is becoming increasingly visible online. It wasn’t the case before, at least not when I had just started in the field. It is also one of the reasons why « Brazza-Va-Bien » exists today. 9
Before, there were always the same mainstream sites, in which unfortunately black culture was not featured or valued. My goal was to offer an alternative, a site that is mainstream with cultural content, but which is focused on the person, not on origins. Art and talent have neither limits nor borders, so no I don’t focus on blacks or Africans but rather offer them a new platform to express themselves, because yes, we have things to say! The tone is decidedly light hearted and fun. The target is still 25-35 years old. The ideal is that visitors of the site identify with the people featured there.
represented this so I had to create something and get my opinion out there. In my opinion, when there is something missing somewhere, instead of complaining, it is better to find a constructive solution.
My childhood: I grew up in an environment that is similar to the vibe I want «Brazza-Va-Bien» to have. My parents live in a « white » neighborhood. The neighbor is an English man who married a Corsican; the neighbor on the opposite side of the street is a German, living with a French. Further down, we have a Romanian married to a French person from the « Vosges ». A certain atmosphere was created and that made it possible for us to have excellent relationships. Everyone mixed and went to each other’s houses. I have always lived in a cultural mix, and I never found that in any publication. Younger, I paid no attention to this, but as I grew older, I realized that nothing in the media
If I say Feminism in Africa, what does that evoke to you? Do you think it is a concept that we accept and understand on the continent?
How many editors are currently at « BrazzaVa-Bien »?
At the moment, I am the only one working on the project. But I intend to make it a team effort. The secret of a website that works is its content. To have consistent content you need to be many to create it. This diversity and this stimulation can What influences the editorial train of thought? only bring good things to the magazine. In fact, I Trips? Contact with various nationalities am open to any offers right now! (Laughs) maybe?
I think so, yes. I can give you an example: I am from a completely matriarchal family. Something that is actually common in Africa, contrary to popular belief. Women are able to impose themselves. Not through force but through subtle influence, they also have strong persuasion abilities. These strong women, that are also seen as loud mouths at times but also make their voices heard and respected represent a type of feminism. It is true, that modern culture has placed the man
at the heart of the family and society. However, this idea indirectly implies the submission of the woman, which is a false implication. Yes, in Africa women keep quiet. But they are no less subtle and cunning or crafty. To me, the notion of feminism in Africa can be overlooked because women are afraid of the violent retaliation of men. Therefore, they go for alternative solutions and make sure they are heard through subtle craftiness. My state of mind is the same: without being vindictive or looking for conflict, I make it certain to impose myself and place value in my opinion as a woman. What can we wish to Brazza-Va-Bien in 2014? To not be afraid of big things. To take risks and to be unafraid to fail.
« Women are able to impose themselves. Not through force but through subtle influence.»
Interviewed by Joan Yombo
ADAMA AMANDA NDIAYE : WONDERWOMAN FROM SENEGAL Los Angeles, Paris, Dakar, - the World! Adama Ndiaye is here and everywhere at the same time. Designer, event organizer and TV storyteller as part of the «Plus D’Afrique» team on Canal + Afrique; this hyperactive businesswoman never stops. She still took the time to chat with Inspire Afrika, telling us about her path, her ambitions and her vision of African feminism.
Inspire Afrika: Hi Adama ! Can you please introduce yourself to our readers. Adama Ndiaye: My name is Adama Amanda Ndiaye, citizen of the world. I am from Senegal but I was born in Kinshasa. My parents were diplomats, so I lived in a lot of different places. After my baccalaureate, I settled in Paris where I studied economic science. I worked in a bank and decided to quit in order to focus on fashion, which has always been my passion. I.A: Why this change of plan? A.N: I would not call it a change of plan exactly. My parents were very picky with my studies, they weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of me in fashion. I got my Baccalaureate really early and finished my studies fast. People saw me as gifted and I wanted to finish my studies quickly so I could focus on what I’ve always wanted to do. My career in banking helped me obtained a loan to launch my first project.
« I am not inspired by people but by actions» I.A: What is the concept behind Adama Paris? A.N: Firstly, Adama Paris is a clothing line. I am the designer. When I went back to Dakar I realized there was no such thing as Fashion week over there so I jumped at the opportunity and decided to create one. The first one in 2002 was a huge success. I wasn’t known back then but we got around 800 visitors. A few years later, I created Adama Paris Fashion Events, which organizes the Black Fashion Week, the Dakar Fashion week, « La Trophée de la mode » (Fashion Trophy) and many others. I.A: Why did you decide to create Black Fashion Week ? What was the motivation behind it ? A.N: I created BFW because after 10 years experience in the fashion field, I felt like we were lagging behind. As Africans, we tend to share and exchange amongst ourselves. What I wanted
was to show case African Fashion beyond those borders. I think that comes from personal experiences : I’ve traveled a lot and lived in different countries. I wanted African designers to be visible to the European press and enter a new market. In order to do so, I needed to go through Europe to grow my distribution circuit. So, I decided not to create a stable fashion week, but one that moves from place to place. The Black Fashion Week is the only mobile fashion week. The aim is to bring African craftsmanship to every city we visit. It is about catching the occidental eye and sharing what we do in a better way. The first edition happened in Prague. I like challenges and I figured if I could succeed in Prague where no one knows me and there are only few black people then I could succeed anywhere. I.A: One of your motivations is in helping kids in the streets of Senegal. Tell us more about that. A.N: I am part of an association called « Empire des Enfants » (The Children’s Empire). It is a refuge that welcomes kids. We put them in school or we try to find their parents. The majority of kids living on the streets are not Senegalese but from the sub-regions. Fashion is important but it is also important to act for change. Those who know me well know I have three passions: my family, Africa and fashion. For me the heartbreak of Africa is all these kids on the streets, there is nothing more shocking to me than helpless kids. I had a great childhood, with loving parents, so seeing kids on the streets is something that truly affects me. That is why the entrance to all the BFWs are paid for: the money goes «Empire des Enfants ». I.A: Your success is phenomenal. What singles you out as a business woman ? And what makes the difference? A.N: I thank my parents for pushing me to finish my studies. I have a strong knowledge of economics thanks to that and it helps a lot. However, studies do not equal success. I think beyond that, I am a visionary. I like taking risks, challenges and I feel limitless. Everything that is done in Europe or America, I believe can be done in Africa. That is maybe the key. At Adama Paris, we have this ability to adapt our way of life, our needs and financial capacity to what we do. We don’t only 13
adapt to others but to ourselves by doing the best with what we have. That is my advice to all young designers: believe in yourself and give the best of yourself in everything you do. Our adventure has just begun. I am convinced that Africa’s time is coming and I am so proud to be apart of it. I am proud of the current excitement around the continent. I love fashion but what really motivates me when I design is the symbol behind it: what mechanisms I am setting in place to promote my culture. The clothing must tell my history, it must tell who I am. Through what I do I like to show a young, fighting, proud and competent Africa.
I.A: You are often in Africa; do you recognize a change in female entrepreneurship? A.N: To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to what is going on around me because of my projects. I only lift my head once I reach my goal. But, of course I see successful female entrepreneurs. In Senegal, the government has implemented actions that make it easier for women to access high positions. It continues today with Macky Sall (Senegalese President): our prime minister is a woman; these are positive signs for us.
I.A: We tend to associate fashion with women. Do you think you would have had the same success on the continent in a different industry? In computer science for example? A.N: Of course! I believe that success is related to hard work and how much we apply ourselves in what we do. I don’t have much belief in luck. It is only the cherry on top of the cake. I think all women can succeed in any industry in Africa. Speaking of computer science; the reality is that it is easier to succeed in that domain than in fashion! There is very little training for fashion in Africa. Young people need to understand that the key to their success is applying themselves a 100% to their passion. They are allowed to follow their dreams. When I started no one took me seriously. No one believed in me. For two years, I hid my activities from my parents. For the first three years I financed everything related to BFW by myself. When you work hard, it pays off; luck had nothing to do with it. I owe a lot to my team, they accompany me daily, to my parents, who knew how to support me at the right moment. But beyond all this I attribute my success to myself, I believed in me and gave a 100% working day and night.
« I am convinced that Africa’s time is coming and I am so proud to be apart of it. »
I.A: If I say «Feminism in Africa », what is your reaction? A.N: I think the word feminism in Europe is intensified. In Africa, it definitely does not have the same meaning or the same weight. African women have never really been feminists like European women. We have a whole other approach to things. It comes from our education and culture, we are « shadow women ». We obtain what we want through clever maneuvers and not confrontation. To be honest it is not something I see as wrong. I am strong headed but really I avoid conflict. I don’t believe anything good comes out of conflict. With time and maturity, I have learnt to
appreciate this singularity in African women and mostly that education that I had often wanted to eliminate. African women have a unique understanding of Men, as in Mankind. When we understand people we know how to approach them. When we can understand them we approach them easily and can handle any issue with them. For me that is a form of feminism. I.A: Don’t you think there is a contradiction between the strong and proud entrepreneurial African woman, and the « shadow woman » who is rather guarded? A.N: Let me tell you something. What I love about Africa is its paradoxes. I am the living proof of it: I was born in Congo, I have lived in different places, I speak English and French and I am extremely modern. But at the same time I am a firm Muslim, I pray everyday...that can be considered as contradictory. As entrepreneurs, women become similar to men: they have a leadership they have perfected over the years, they are listeners and are better able to lead men because of that. Despite, they remain women, mothers and wives. Our paradoxes define us as African women. That baggage and education makes it that we have something interesting to offer. No offense to other women (laughs). The uniqueness of the African woman is in the fact that she is not an « obvious » feminist, it is her ability to create change by breaking the rules, discreetly of course, that makes her unique.
« “As entrepreneurs, women become similar to men: they have a leadership they have perfected over the years, they are listeners and are better able to lead men because of that. Despite, they remain women, mothers and wives” » I.A: What type of women inspires you the most? A.N: I am not inspired by people but by actions. I am inspired by the kindness of people, their
honesty and authenticity. When we have these qualities, we can do anything and we can inspire. If I have to name someone, it has to be Mother Teresa. I have a limitless admiration for those individuals that are above the norms and dedicate their actions to others.
I.A: Africa is trendy! What are some of your favorite designers for 2014? A.N: Wow, there are so many! It’s not fair to ask me this question (laughs). I must however mention my compatriot Sophie Zinga Sy. She is a young designer; I discovered at the first BFW, her work is beautiful. She is one to keep an eye on this year. I.A: What can we expect from you this year? Rumors are a TV show...true or false? A.N: Completely true! In 2014, Adama Paris will land on television. We will start with web TV to test the waters before going on satellite. We have already started filming the series. We will be showing in Senegal on the « excaf » channel where we will have a section. This will allow us to get noticed in Senegal before conquering the rest of Africa and Europe. It will be the first 100% fashion channel in Africa. rest of Africa and Europe. It will be the first 100% fashion channel in Africa. Interviewed by Joan Y. 15
BUILDING BRIDGES FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
Don’t let the sweet voice and pretty features of Naadiya Moosajee fool you. She’s in a big industry: the engineering industry. Not only is she a civil engineer but she is changing the face of engineering in South Africa through her organization: SAWOMENG. An organization with the aim of “igniting the engineering flame” and the potential of young women in high school, university and professional level by demonstrating the opportunities and practicality of the field. For Mrs. Moosajee, the co-founder of SAWOMENG, engineering is what she calls «a happy accident».
« For women struggling in this industry, I would say get a strong mentor »
SAWOMENG: Beginnings Founded in 2006, SAWOMENG comes from a discussion at the back of an engineering classroom at the University of Cape Town, where Naadiya and a female friend discussed the frustration of being in a class with 55 students in which only 5 were girls! “We discussed revolutionizing the face of engineering” she says. For the pair it wasn’t just getting more girls into engineering but also about mentor-ship and showcasing engineering in South Africa. They wanted to get employers to hire women because they are just as skilled and can contribute as much as men to the industry. She calls it “showcasing the positive effects of women in engineering to society.” SAWOMENG attracts young women to engineering by focusing on igniting the engineering flame and showing them the potential and opportunities the industry can offer them. Engineering teaches them a certain process way of thinking and will make them an asset no matter what they decide to do in the future. This is what draws many to the association.
The Pipeline, Girleng, and The Network
SAWOMENG revolves around these three branches: The Pipeline, Girleng and The Network. The pipeline at SAWOMENG simply involves looking at how to get more girls into engineering and what support structure and programs they need to succeed. Girleng is the association’s high school program. The notion there is to start creating awareness about engineering through mentorship. The association trains university students to be “big sisters” or mentors to high school students. The logic behind this is that a girl from a rural area will have a hard time applying and funding an engineering school without any help. A “big sister” is here to help that high school student through that process. Once that high school student gets into university then she is also trained to be a “big sister” to another high school student who wants to discover engineering. At their second or third year of University, these girls are eligible to participate in the SAWOMENG conferences. At the conferences, top students in engineering gather to discuss important engineering innovations. “Something we noticed is that engineers are not talking about the important issues. Last year I went to ten workshops on China in Africa, it’s a big topic but no one in Africa was talking about it. We were the first to host a conference talking about this and the effects on the continent.,” says Naadiya. This year the theme is “Engineering Technology For Social Good.” At this level the association also provides network events sponsored by companies looking for graduates. It gets people to mingle and network in the professional realm. It’s an access to more qualified engineers, not just graduates through conferences.
SAWOMENG: Changing a mindset It is common that when people hear engineering, they think of men. This is something Naadiya (and I’m sure we all) recognizes as a global issue: “One day I went shopping with my niece and wanted to get her some toys. The boys’ aisle had all these cool stuff like Legos and building tools when in the girls’ aisle there was this tiny pink aisle with pink ironing board. We need to change that.” she says. A mindset shift is obviously necessary globally but things are slowly changing in engineering for South Africa. When Naadiya started there were almost no females in her class and now classes are almost 50/50. When girls see these real life examples of women in the industry through mentorship, they can visualize a career for themselves. “In Africa, we have a different situation, what we need to do here is go back to the basics and show how engineering is part of everyday life” Naadiya adds. In High Schools, the association teaches students to build miniature cars, buildings out of straws, something very simple they can identify with. She adds that it is also about role models, doing something as simple as bringing a female engineer into a classroom and having her speak to the students. SAWOMENG did this in rural schools and literally the responses are: «can I really be an engineer if I’m a girl?» As Naadiya says: “gender should not be an issue!”
« Gender should not be an issue ! »
On representing women in the industry When it all started Naadiya and her partner had a lot of push back, people that questioned their ambition and dream. However, their stubbornness about their dream drove them forward as well as strong family ties and support. “We almost had no right, especially because we were students at that time”,she says. Naadiya got a lot of job offers but not because she was talented but because she was a young black woman. Companies were rewarded by law if they hired young black females: “There were internal struggles within me where I wondered if I should take on a job where they want to hire me because I’m a black woman and not because I was talented.” She also did site work during which she worked with men who had been in the industry for 20/30 years and had to take orders from a small young black woman. She learnt to gain their trust and worked hard for it, showing them that she wasn’t there to threaten their jobs but only to do hers. “For women struggling in this industry, I would say get a strong mentor. I have had amazing mentors in my life, who have helped me direct my career and ambitions.” she adds.
SAWOMENG: on expansion plans Naadiya is excited about the association’s plans for expansion: “It has always been an aspiration for us to do what we have done in South Africa across the continent”. In October this year, they will be launching a program in Kenya which goal is to give High School girls the opportunity to interact and find jobs, as well as the technical and social skills they need to succeed in engineering. “When you look at the continent, you can see the amount of engineering required. We need engineers but we don’t have local engineers so we import skills”. She recognizes that the problem with importing skills is that Africa will have to keep doing it. The solution? “It is about how we shape local economies and local people. I believe the only way to get around this unemployment issue in Africa is to actually create the opportunities for young people” she says. By creating these engineering opportunities and shaping our future engineers, Africa will eventually no longer have to import engineers but rather use its own local talents. The engineering industry is not an easy one and even less for women. The efforts of SAWOMENG are proof that women have so much to offer in the industry. Any girl out there who want to venture in this field; be bold, stand up for your rights. You can do it without losing yourself or your femininity. How do you make a start in the industry? Naadiya concludes: “I would say make some engineer friends to gain the credibility and know how you need to start.”
« A mindset shift is obviously necessary globally but things are slowly changing in engineering for South Africa. »
By Amma O.
DARE TO INSPIRE
THE VOICE OF WOMEN Marylène Owona, for Oser l’Afrique. Being a woman and an entrepreneur in Africa often means bearing a double burden: because we want to move things forward yet we belong to the other sex , the one in the dark, without recognition from men. And even if there are just a few, those who dare are there. They do not ask permission to exist and strive to be role models for their peers. They are no longer pioneers but work hard to be role models. They show that recognition is possible, as is innovation. The association « Oser Afrique » met these women who are writing a page in their lives . They asked them this question: « What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur in Africa today?» Here is a collection of answers from a few select women: «Today, being a female entrepreneur in Africa is being at the forefront of the continent’s development. We have taken charge of our destiny. « Rebecca1, CEO de AppsTech. «For me, being a female entrepreneur in Africa today is to have self-confidence and faith in your project. It is being aware of sexism and even turning it into an advantage. It is also not letting others decide what you are capable of doing or not. « Céline, Fondatrice de Je Wanda Magazine2. « Being a female entrepreneur in Africa is to be passionate about your project, to be curious and daring. A female entrepreneur inspires her team members to become leaders instead of being followers while pushing them to fulfill their potential.» Estelle, Fondatrice de Kaaria. « Being a woman entrepreneur in Africa is changing the destiny of many people each day, one person at a time and often anonymously. Female african entrepreneurs represent the path to change... It is time to acknowledge them « Marylène, CEO de Kouaba3. «A female entrepreneur is an entrepreneur who creates and manages a business ... just as a man does» Honorine, CEO Sowess.
1/ https://twitter.com/africatechie 2/ http://www.jewanda-magazine.com 3/ https://www.facebook.com/KouabaAgency
THE IMPACT OF NEW INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES IN AFRICA
“We aim at informing as well as training at all levels, meaning, we target the professionals as well as the sales people who could use these technologies to better their businesses”
Inspire Afrika: Can you please describe in a few words what Evolving Consulting is? Reine Essobmadje: Evolving Consulting is a research, educational, auditing, technological information sorting and telecommunications consulting firm. It was created in Paris in 2009 and has a Cameroonian branch that opened in 2010.
“Today, the goal is to show that women can bring a lot to the science industry, most likely a new way of thinking that will be beneficial to the whole population.” I.A: What are the continent’s needs in terms of Communications and Information Technologies? R.E: Today, there are various needs that I can split in two categories: the needs of Francophone Africa and the needs of Anglophone Africa. I would say that for Anglophone Africa in the West, the infrastructures for information and communications technologies are well on the way. The need now, is to apply these technologies and create the services linked to them. Francophone Africa is still at the placement stage of these infrastructures that will then allow them to put in place the services and apply the technologies. I think in general, what the continent needs is a numerical and technological culture that will make many processes in various sectors much easier. Numericals for example are so easily adaptable and can be used in administration, in economic activities and in the healthcare sector. I.A: What are ICT days about? And more precisely this current event? R.E: The « ICT days » was created in 2009, with the first edition in 2010. The aim is to raise awareness within all social classes about the importance of using ICT and the impact this could have on a larger scale for the continent. So far, we have had days and conferences in
Cameroon but as of this year we want to expand to other countries as well. We aim at informing as well as training at all levels, meaning we target the professionals as well as the sales people who could use these technologies to better their businesses. We also reach out to developers to create a numerical HUB in the region, with activities that revolve around project development, as well as competitions for application development called the « AKATO ACT FOR AFRICA ». Now we want to focus on employment in the industry. The ideas of these conferences are not set in stone; they evolve with the needs of society. I.A: What type of information do you offer companies? R.E: We have very technical trainings targeted at ICT professionals. For example, training involving the judicial laws surrounding telecommunications. This training allows them to better understand the laws involving their industry and to develop jobs such as telecommunications auditors. It also helps companies to further develop their projects with the interest of the people of the country in mind. I.A: Why is it important for businesses to integrate all aspects of new communications and information technologies? R.E: The word for it is ‘Cross Coaching’: ICT is involved in every sector of activity. For example, in education today, building a classroom takes time and manpower. It’s also quite a huge budget; between constructors, teachers, salaries and maintenance. With ICT today, it is possible to do long distance learning, which can reach a larger number of the population. An example is the city of Yaoundé: on the university campuses of SOA and Ngoa-Ekellé, many are unable to attend classes because of lack of space in classrooms. If they had the possibility to listen to lectures later online or exchange notes on forums, the teacher would be much more effective thanks to ICTs. We are trying to make people understand that ICTs can boost their capacities and that businesses can reach a client base they could not reach otherwise.
I.A: Our readers are curious about what the steps are for a consultancy venture. If I wanted to create a consultancy business, what would be the first step to take? R.EÂ : You need a vision, which will help identify the value, the target market and the services that you want to offer. The next step is a business plan, identify the investments needed, costs and potential revenue, do a market study to see if the service you want to offer does not already exist. Or evaluate what you can do to offer an even better service than the ones that exist. You also need a marketing plan. Basically, do everything to create a standard company. In the small world of ICT, revenues are important. It is crucial to develop a network, in order to be in direct relation with the clients. Go to conferences related to the subject and develop a service that will make a difference. In my companyâ€™s case we offer answers that are tailored and adapted to the local environment.
« In the small world of ICT, revenues are important. It is crucial to develop a network, in order to be in direct relation with the clients.» I.A : What type of network of people should we have to start a consultancy business ? R.E : A variety of profiles and people is necessary to respond to needs, be it in banking or finance or ICT. You need managers, salespeople, communicators...etc. I.A: You are also member of many international organizations such as the INWES. What role do women play in the ICT industry? R.E: Women are under-represented in all tertiary industries, in Africa as much as in Europe. In Europe, laws are made in order to allow women to be better represented at the administrative level. Women are also less represented in the scientific field. Today, the goal is to show that women can bring a lot to the science industry, most likely a new way of thinking that will be beneficial to the whole population.
FEARLESS VICKIE !
“I don’t consider myself an Oprah of any kind. I am Vickie, a young woman trying to carve out her own plate of the African fufu.”
At just 30 years old Vickie Remoe already has a full-grown carrier. She has been producer and presenter on Sierra Leonean TV for four years, she owns a blog about Sierra Leonean news, as well as a communication consultancy agency and a famous women’s magazine. « What is your secret? » you may ask? Well Vickie is fearless about taking risks! Hello Vickie and welcome! Can you please introduce yourself to our readers? I was born in 1984 in Sierra Leone. I have a Masters of Science in Journalism from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Haverford College. Why did you decide to move back to Ghana right after your studies while you did not have a precise professional plan? I moved to Ghana in search of opportunities. I hadn’t lived there before but I had visited several times and felt there was enough of a media scene for me to thrive and do business in, although I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to engage myself when I moved.
« A GoWoman is the kind of woman who makes a way even when there isn’t one. I can’t think of anything more entrepreneurial than that.» You managed to get a job very fast. But after 3 months, you decided to start your own company. Why? I didn’t get a job actually. I created one. I went in search of business making cold calls and I got lucky. Someone liked what I had to say and decided I might have more ideas that would help their business. That’s how I signed my first client, and yes 3 months later I registered my corporate communications firm, Vickie Remoe & Co. Ok. Now explain us what brought you back to Sierra Leone! We know you started with The Vickie Remoe Show there! Tell us more. Before I moved to Ghana from New York I had spent 4 years in Sierra Leone, running a small media business there. How4Do, my first media company produced the Vickie Remoe Show. It broadcasted for 3 years on national television in Sierra Leone. We recorded content in 4 different countries including, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana, and Senegal. I started the TV show because when I moved to Sierra Leone it was pretty depressing sometimes, there was very little good quality entertainment on TV. The show was created to uplift the masses (those who had electricity of course). I was the first woman to host, and executive produce a TV show in Sierra Leone without any assistance from the government TV broadcaster. One of my favourite shows was a feature story we did on Kondi, a blind musician. The reason it was my favourite is that not only did he have a wonderful personality, and talent, but also the show revived his career. I was happy to be able to give him a platform to showcase what he did best. People consider you as the “Oprah of Sierra Leone”. We know you did the cover of your own magazine. What about you? Do you consider yourself as The African Oprah? Oprah is a phenomenal woman. And because she is the Queen of the talk show format those in Sierra 27
Leone who saw me on TV nicknamed me “Salone Oprah”. To be called Oprah is a huge compliment but I am my own person, even though the title resurfaced when I started publishing GoWoman Magazine last year. I was on the cover of the first issue, and again the Oprah name up because she is on every cover of O. I don’t consider myself an Oprah of any kind. I am Vickie, a young woman trying to carve out her own plate of the African fufu. What is Swit Salone? Swit Salone is a news blog primarily covers Sierra Leone but also other West African countries. We have contributing authors who submit content. What we try to do is to use the site to make sense of all the local news from Sierra Leone for people who don’t live there, and vice versa provide context on international news about Sierra Leone. Most newspapers in Sierra Leone are politically biased so we try to present an objective view of what is going on using the insight I gained from working in the media there for 4 years. You have an amazing path. But I’m quite sure you went through some difficulties. How did you adapt yourself back in Ghana? Ghana is the fifth country I’ve lived in the last 20 years, once you leave home the first time it gets easier. Also Accra is just 2 hours from Freetown and an 11-hour direct flight to New York. All three places are home to me, and I go and come, as my heart desires. Ghana is an open country. Adapting to life here was actually pretty simple. I have had no problems here, no wahala. (Wahala means trouble in pidgin, editor’s note) When did you start GoWoman Magazine and what was the idea behind? Africa is changing quickly but the status of women isn’t moving quite as fast. GoWoman is a platform to guide young African women at home and in the diaspora to live their best life. Most African women were raised to want
marriage more than anything else. We are told to go to school but we are also heavily groomed to become wives. We get told that we should hope to marry a big man, or a president one day. There is nothing wrong with this, but we believe that if our countries are going to develop then African women need to be actively engaged in national development. It means we need to build businesses, we need to know what our politicians are doing, we need to know about the latest technologies, and we need to know about our bodies and our health. The magazine is for the African woman who instead of wanting to marry a president wants to be president herself. Our magazine tells stories about African women who have made a mark on their communities, and those who will.
« There are businesswomen in Sierra Leone, but not enough financial support given to young women who want to start SMEs”. » We all know that the press magazine industry is in a relative decline. Why did you decide to take the risk and go print? We believe that the best way to tell stories is to have multiple platforms. This is why we are both a digital and print publication. Not everyone is online, internet penetration is still very low in West Africa, and we want to be able to reach all kinds of women both the technologically empowered, and the old school girl who loves the smell and feel of a print magazine. According to you, what is the place of women entrepreneurship in Ghana? Can you have the same statement for Sierra Leone? Women in Ghana are doing much better when it comes to business but that’s because
2/ http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives/47855. 3/ http://gowomanafrica.com
Ghana is a more developed country. Although when you talk about big business and leaders of industry in Ghana it is as you would imagine a boys club. There are businesswomen in Sierra Leone, but not enough financial support given to young women who want to start SMEs. The biggest challenge I faced when I was running my media Production Company in Sierra Leone is that I didn’t always have the resources needed to grow nor the support. The reason why I closed my company there and moved is because I didn’t like the rate at which my business was growing. I came to Ghana to seek a bigger market and so far so good. Do you think there is any kind of feminism in Africa? Of course there is. Some people don’t like the word feminism because they feel it is tainted. To me a feminist is anyone who believes the women are human, that men and women should have equal opportunities. In what extend can GoWoman Magazine inspire women and lead them to entrepreneurship? A GoWoman is the kind of woman who makes a way even when there isn’t one. I can’t think of anything more entrepreneurial than that. You have a good idea; make a plan and just GOWOMAN! Interviewed by Joan. Y
THE AFRICAN WOMAN - MOTOR OF THE CONTINENT’S DEVELOPMENT
« Women run an estimated 48% of small and mediumsized businesses. »
At 26, Yetunde Odubesan-Omede is the CEO of a consultancy company called Yetunde Global Consulting. It’s aim is to provide strategic advice to companies and organizations across the world. Being a passionate of women’s potential, Yetunde continues her entrepreneurial adventures by creating Young Women’s Guide, an organization with the aim of « developing the leadership capacity of young women by focusing on self-esteem, confidence and emotional development ». New-York, United States, Saturday 8th March; two young women are organizing the Women Werk, an event which celebrates the African Woman. During this event in which various African talents are represented, one speaker stands out with her impeccable style and her smile. Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede captures her audience unlike any other during the debates. She speaks with confidence and conviction about African female entrepreneurs who are « the driving force behind Africa’s economy. »
Female leadership – Women entrepreneurs
The numbers back-up her statements: « Women run an estimated 48% of small and medium-sized businesses. » She adds that “when women have access to higher education, political representation and manage their own finances, economies thrive. Not only do economies thrive, their families and communities thrive as well.” However, does she believe that the condition of women has evolved since the economic development of Africa? She says: « despite the economy’s progress on the continent, women still have challenges to overcome. » Indeed, despite there being usable roads, more mobile phones and increasing laws on fair trade, African women still struggle in putting their knowledge and craftsmanship forward. Even though, the challenges are the same they have a different feel. It is very well-put by Mme. Odugbesan-Omede, she says: « Nigeria is a unique case. » With over 168 million people, Nigeria is the biggest consumer conglomeration of the African continent and is set to become the economic leader of the continent, bypassing South Africa. But is that what makes Nigeria so unique? According to Mme. Odugbesan-Omede, the singularity of Nigeria comes from the private sector and investments: « Nigeria has the most dynamic private sector in Africa, facilitated by the free circulation of investment: the change regulation is liberal in order to secure international financing. »
« It is time that young women understand that their are many seats at the table of success. » A difficult co-habitation « It is common knowledge that women are difficult with each other. » In an environment that harbors talent development, women are untrusting of each other. Excessive competition or generational conflict, the reasons for this mistrust are numerous. Mme. Odugbesan-Omede mentions the fact that « people are wrong in believing that there are not enough seats at the leadership table ». Is there a good enough reason to not unite in order to be stronger? « It is time that young women understand that there are many seats at the table of success. » Luckily, the solution is straightforward. Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede promotes mentorship. « We need established women to take younger women under their wings in order to show them the way. It means starting on a new path, before speaking of « feminism » or « women’s right », isn’t the first step simply supporting women?
WHAT DO THEY THINK ABOUT FEMINISM ? Feminism is a concept which is often associated with women. As if this equality we claim only concerns us; as if this battle could not be fought by men AND women. In order to change this norm and shake up the standards, we asked a few selected men from different walks of life to join the conversation, they share with us what connotations «feminism» evokes for them. Chrys N.
Steeve Awono, creator of Music Feelings2
Kahi Lumumba, founder of TOTEM TV1 Just as Children’s rights concerns us all, so should women’s right. It is obvious that we do not need to belong to the female gender in order to support them. Like many protest movements, clichés are set in rock when feminism is mentioned. And of course, the extremists of the movement are always the most noticeable, and unfortunately, the media is more inclined to broadcast images of angry women baring their breasts at the expense of intelligent debates with moderate feminists who are the majority and often have a clear and thoughtful approach to the idea. As a man in the media realm, I believe that we must fight the trivialization of the subject which leads to the wrong belief that the debate on feminism is irrelevant in 2014. We need to expose the gap between what women offer in the family realm, in society and in history compared to how they are actually treated in return.
In fast growing societies such as ours, it is imperative to unite all talent, all brain power and to not overlook any enlightening opportunities. Feminism is an enlightenment that cannot be overlooked. Working towards equality for men and women in Africa means fighting for this continent that needs all it’s children, be it men, women or children to no longer suffer from useless « handicaps ». It is an everyday battle, at every moment, because it involves the future. For this reason, it is everyone’s concern. Taking this lightly or limiting feminism to only a woman’s issue is forgetting that this involves our own sisters, mothers, nieces and daughters. They are the ones who will continue to suffer the injustice and the separation that this creates in society. The first synonym of the word « division » is weakness and that is everything we can no longer afford to be. We dream of a strong Africa and treating women equally is a great step towards that.
Paul-Marius Nkeng, President Association Afretis3 A few years ago when I heard the word «feminism», I associated it to March 8. A day during which women can lightly agree and afford some perks in the name of equality of the sexes. With time, I understood that it was a movement to claim ‘rights’, so that women can be recognized for their true value in modern society. But most importantly, to fight against a very « macho » society. Everyone should stand up and be feminist, or even support a meritocratic democracy. Everyone should fight discrimination and kill prejudice. However, it is important to keep in mind that we cannot ask a fish to fly, or an elephant to climb a tree. We are complimentary, let us live with the right intelligence. When I think of the fact that «Blacks» were given the right to vote (1870) before women (1893), I realize that this world has been in the wrong for a long time... POWER TO WOMEN!
Louis Gilbert Bissek, former president A.E.C.R.S1 (2009-2010) Feminism has many aspects. It should be as natural as the whisper of the wind, it should inspire dignity and the right to be different. It should inspire waves of hope. It is about the right to be different. Above all, feminism should be a common quest. In the wise words of Louis Aragon: «The future of a man is a woman. She is the color of his soul...» The reverse is true also, but for that to last, it is matter of harmony.
Kwaku Awuah, President at 54 Kingdoms4 I don’t claim to understand the complexity of all the different types of feminism, nor have I actually experienced being a woman, but I believe one of the tasks of feminism is to foster social, political and economic equality among the men and women. The idea that a man can’t be a feminist or, at the very least, align himself with feminism is puerile. Historically, women have been seriously oppressed, and like every other oppressed group, they had to take everything they have gotten, through an arduous process of struggle. To deny this struggle is to perpetuate a myth similar to that of happy slave. At base, feminism is the acknowledgement that women are oppressed and that something should be done about it. This is an ideal that I strongly support.
1/ http://www.totem-world.com 2/ http://www.musicfeelings.net 3/ https://www.facebook.com/Afretis 4/ www.54kingdoms.com
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AFRIMARKET AFRIMARKET â€“ Revolutionizing Money Transfer
Originally from Morocco, Rania Belkahia is the co-founder of Afrimarket. Armed with an engineering and entrepreneurial training from Paris Tech and HEC Paris, this young woman of 25 decided to offer an alternative way to transfer money. Afrimarket has given the African diaspora the possibility to send money that can be received as actual goods at the destination. The Afrimarket team is in expansion today. Composed of 20 people, it has around 100 commercial partnerships.
Inspire Afrika : What are the reasons that pushed you to start the business in West Africa ? (Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin) Rania Belkahia : The reasons are fairly simple. We evaluated the development level of each of these countries, as well as the potential and the demand coming from the Diaspora that is active in these countries. From that, it seemed obvious for us to go to those markets. I.A : More and more money transfer solutions such as « Cash to Goods » are out there. What is the comparative advantage of Afrimarket ? R.B: The advantage at Afrimarket involves the access to quality products in Africa, through quality partners at low cost. Our commissions are only up to 5% on the exchange rate. Our representatives on the continent also allow us to keep a certain financial and administrative transparency. Finally, we know how to adapt to the realities and cultures of our specific countries. In October 2013 for example, we organized a special operation in Senegal for the sale of a sheep during the Tabaski. I.A : What are some of Afrimarket’s plans in the upcoming months ? R.B : We want to expand our services in the coming months to countries such as Togo, Mali and Cameroon. We also want to reinforce our activities in the countries in which we already are. We are looking to create a network to collect funds at our physical sales-points: banks, local shops...etc We eventually want to enable people to pay their bills or even their phone fees through our service. I.A : You are a young woman directing a company that has quickly become a leader in it’s sector, are women a setback in entrepreneurship ? R.B : Certainly not ! It’s true that the place of women in the tech world is a relentless subject, personally I think it is great news. I studied entrepreneurship and engineering, that’s proof enough. That is why I created my company. I encourage women to go for it and take risks. When you do things right, there is no reason for things to not work out!
STRONG AFRICAN WOMEN
â€œStrong black womanâ€?. We have all heard this expression. In fact, we all know a black woman we consider as a strong pillar, be it our mothers, sisters or Michelle Obama. Over the centuries, african women have shown their strength in dealing with hardships and standing by what they believe in. We all have a strong african woman inside of us ladies, we need to find, grow and nurture her. To help you with this, here are a few historical black women who changed the course of African history through their fearless actions...be inspired!
Nanny of the Maroons - 1600s – Jamaica – The rebel fighter She had a rebel town named after her! Nanny was the leader of a group of slaves who revolted against the British oppressors in Jamaica. She led them into the inner mountains of the island to escape the oppressors and soon enough communities of ex-slaves formed and lived within the mountains. Eventually, the community was called Nanny Towns. She led raids against plantations to free the slaves and even tough the town faced constant attacks and hunger at times, the people remained strong through her encouragement. Her revolution caught the attention of the British and a series of campaigns against the « troublesome maroons » was launched. Nanny had no
choice but to lead her people in a guerrilla defense operation: she ensured the maroon settlements were built high into the mountains and taught her people the art of camouflage. Slowly but surely, the British finally signed a peace treaty with the Maroons, giving them 500 acres of land to call their own. Nanny is hailed a Jamaican national hero and is credited for preserving the culture and freedom of her people. She is a powerful symbol of the resistance to slavery. Can we say strong black woman? Oh YES!
Queen Pokou – 1700s – Ivory Coast – The beauty of sacrifice
She is ancestor and founder of the Baoule people of Ivory Coast. This brave woman led her people on a journey to freedom from the Ashanti people in Ghana during civil war in the kingdom. Refusing to join the main Ashanti rule, Queen Poku led her people to the west, on the longest, most arduous journey to the Komoe River. Legend has it that she asked her priest how to safely cross the river to which he responded a sacrifice had to be made. The brave Queen sacrificed her son whom she threw in the river and yelled: « Ba Ouli », meaning the child is dead. For this reason her descendants are known today as the Baoule. Once the sacrifice was made, Hippopotamuses appeared and created a bridge that allowed her and her people to cross the river. Legend or not, this Queen did in fact sacrifice for her people’s freedom and did really lead them to better lands. The Baoule tribe is the largest tribe in modern Ivory Coast. Queen Poku is a strong black woman without a doubt!
Yaa Asantewaa – 1800s – Ghana – The Joan of Arc of Africa She is compared to one of the most famous female rebels in history and rightfully so, however she is an African rebel in her own right. Yaa Asantewaa led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden stool against the British colonials in the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana. She saw the Asante Confederacy go through a series of events that threatened their future including civil war between 1883 and 1888. She became Queen mother when her brother died in 1894 and nominated the people she saw fit to rule the Asante Kingdom. However, these men were slowly being deported and exiled by the British to loosen their reign of power over the Kingdom. Eventually the new King himself Prempeh I was exiled. The British general governor then demanded to be handed the Golden Stool, the proud symbol of the Asante Nation. This was the last straw for Yaa Asantewaa, who saw the lack of bravery in the men of her tribe to defend their symbol and bring back their King. So she took leadership of the Asante Uprising in 1900 and gained the support of the other Asante nobility. Yaa Asantewaa and her closest advisers were eventually captured and also exiled. She died in exile. The battle was lost but not the war. She laid the foundations for a free Ghana. In 1957, the nation gained independence and when the rest of the exiles returned to the Kingdom, her remains were brought back for a proper royal burial. A sure sign that she was a respected strong African woman!
Margeret Ekpo – Nigeria – 1900s – The fashionable feminist Margeret Ekpo was what you would call a « girly girl » but don’t be misled by that because she was a feisty one. Known for her fabulous fashion sense, she was equally admired if not more for her political activism that brought women in Nigeria to the forefront. Margeret was a pioneer female politician in the country’s First Republic. She was also the leader of a class of traditional Nigerian women activists in the town of Aba called « Aba Township Women’s association ». Through this group she gained the trust of many women in the town of Aba and was able to make the association a political pressure group. By 1955, there were more female voters in the city wise election than men. She shone a light on women during an era of hierarchical and male dominated movements leading towards independence. In 1961, she won a seat at the Eastern Regional House of Assembly in a position that enabled her to fight issues affecting women, specifically in regards to the progress of women in economics and political matters. There is nothing like a strong African woman that uses her strength to lift up other women! 38
For its 12th issue, Inspire Afrika is celebrating strong women. Meet Adama Ndiaye, Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede, Vickie Remoe, Naadiya Moosajee,...