Maguette Wade: successful senegalese entrepreneur thanks to bissap (hibiscus)
Maguette Wade is a young entrepreneurial woman, Senegalese, who understood the slogan of the site Afroculture.net “nourish your roots and take control of your future. Indeed, Africa is full of riches on its soil, which is often untapped. Africans prefer to orient themselves towards what comes from elsewhere, thinking that it is better for them. But, they forget that God forgets nobody, is that it has deposited many added values on the African territory.
Wade, an ambitious enterprising young woman.
.Born in Senegal, Maguette Wade first saw her grandmother in a village without going to school. Then, she joined her parents in France and studied at the Lycée Marceau de Chartres. Persevering and gifted, she joined a business school and perfected her knowledge. At 17, she feels ready and decides to tackle everything to go live in the United States, whose goal is to realize her dreams. But she did not suspect anything that awaited her. Trilingual in French, English and Wolof, Maguette Wade puts her heart to work to find her own way. But, far from her country, she does not forget where she comes from. In her head, she wants to be part of this African youth that helps the African continent.
She says :
I lived in California in a beautiful place, I was happy and lacking nothing, but the idea that Africa needed its children trotted in my head. “
So, determined, she decides to return to Africa, to be able to take advantage of all the knowledge generated in France and America.
Entrepreneurship, yes! But in what? Where to start ?
When she returns home, she realizes the high added value of traditional drinks, especially bissap. This Senegalese drink comes from the flowers of hibiscus. But in town, she realizes that many Senegalese are turning away from traditional drinks to drink drinks from elsewhere such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
She explains :
When I went to Senegal, I was sorry to see that the young people were turning away from the bissap. They wanted to drink American sodas. While the cultivation of hibiscus leaves is truly part of the Senegalese way of life. The culture of the bissap brings the women of the villages to life. These cultures make it possible to combat the rural exodus. But, I understand that consuming Western products is a way for Africans to show that they have succeeded. “
This fact makes it sad, because in addition, traditional drinks, especially bissap, have enormous virtues and health benefits. Moreover, the cultivation of bissap is a real source of employment because it allows many women in the villages to feed their families.
Then she said to herself:
Why not sell bissap drink to the Americans. “
The idea is found. Maguette decides to return to San Francisco and creates her company Adina World Beat Beverages. Adina means (“the world” in Wolof) and it is a company that sells traditional African drinks and luxury teas.
How does it happen?
It organizes a production of hibiscus leaves in Senegal, which employs about a hundred women. These leaves are then imported into the United States to produce the bissap drink. With its certification in the pocket by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the traditional drink of Senegal invades American supermarkets and it is a huge success. The Americans are very happy to taste and consume traditional African drinks, even if they cost a little. They take the Americans on a journey through the scents and riches of our tender African continent. Shareholders jostle, it has a turnover of 3.2 million dollars and employs 25 people.
Happy, she expresses herself:
Of course, in Africa, there is always the strong appeal of brands. As elsewhere in the world, young people want Nike or Coca-Cola. The African always thinks that what is produced elsewhere is better than what comes from him. While in the United States, there are people happy to consume African. Americans who refuse Chinese products and throw themselves on what is produced in Africa. And they want to know the African culture as a whole. “
But she had to fight against many prejudices. For the Americans, one can create a business with Africa only if it is in an associative framework. They have a negative perception that Africa is synonymous with poverty and war. This negative image is also favored by Western media and local NGOs. So we had to fight against this barrier to win.
Tossam, another project to realise.
But when she sees that the shareholders of her first company are moving away from her vision of departure, in 2009, Maguette Wade prefers to resign.
Ambitious, nothing stops her, she decides to create her second company Tossam, which specializes in luxury cosmetics and fashion integrating the beauty secrets of Senegalese. It focuses on aloe vera and baobab. She is surrounded by a specialist in traditional medicine, Californian chemists and a French perfumer based in Grasse to develop her products. On the other hand, this time, the products (oils) are manufactured and marketed in the United States. They are sold in the Nordstrom network. But its goal in the future is that the products be made in Senegal. But she knows it’s harder to set up.
A noble heart, Maguette supports education in Senegal.
With the 10% profits generated by its Tiossam company, it supports educational projects in Senegal. She wants to create in Senegal a school with a cultural vocation: “Senegal has lost much of its cultural creativity. We need to help young people regain that creativity. “
Courageous, she wants to change mentalities. It wants to show that there are many gifted people in Africa and refuses these stereotypes of poverty and war. She wants to succeed, but remaining true to these ideas, even if it involves work and sacrifices. Recognized, she is quoted in Forbes Magazine among the 20 most influential African youth in the world. She also gives numerous lectures at the universities of Harvard, Yale and Columbia.
3 tips from Maguette Wade to young entrepreneurs:
When you are young, focus on learning: learn a maximum and make contacts. “
If you are not able to sell your ideas and vision, you must partner with someone who can do it for you. Know how to surround yourself. “
Advice for Women: “Never lose your integrity, self-esteem and dignity in life in general, but it is even more true in entrepreneurship.”
What do you think ? Are you inspired by this successful young entrepreneur?