Why become a Women In Africa entrepreneur?
Interview with Seynabou Thiam
Seynabou, in a few words, what is the WIA 54 program?
WIA 54 is a flagship program of the Women In Africa Philanthropy Foundation, a foundation that creates economic development platforms for African women with high potential. This program has the particularity of choosing from thousands of applicants, one woman per African country and of forming a class of 54 women representative of female entrepreneurship across the continent.
To these women we offer an invitation to the foundation's annual summit in Marrakech, preceded by a two-day bootcamp led by professional experts from the companies of our patrons. We also guarantee visibility with media with international influence, the possibility of having a scholarship for an MBA and access to our WIA Link platform.
Also, we bring them all the strength of our network by creating the maximum of opportunities with our partners.
What does it mean being a WIA 54 entrepreneur?
Being WIA 54 is the opportunity to think bigger than your person, your project, your country and see things from a pan-African perspective. WIA 54 allows the winners to realise their impact on the future and the economy of the continent. Their ambitions find an echo in our rich and diverse network.
Concretely, this gives the possibility, for example, of having lunch alongside an Africa or worldwide CEO of one of the largest banking groups, as was the case in Marrakech this year with Frédéric Oudéa.
A WIA 54 woman who particularly impressed you?
Vivian Nawakah of Medsaf from WIA 54 2017 for her consistency and determination! She works on one of the most sensitive subjects on the continent, access to healthcare and fake medicines using digital technology.
More than a program, WIA 54 is a human adventure, so any anecdote in mind?
When the entrepreneurs arrive in Marrakech for the summit, the week's program is quite busy. For proof, once one of them left the hotel with the iron on the bus to be able to iron between two sessions her evening dress! Fortunately, we had time to return to the hotel at the end of the day, so that she could change herself properly. But on the bus, we couldn't miss it!
What is a“made in” WIA 54 success story?
Very difficult to name just one! I have so much in mind. In addition to Vivian, mentioned above, I think of Jessica from Gabon with "Les petits pots de l'Ogooué" who built a very good delicatessen brand, but also Chika from Nigeria with Greymate Care which is part of the prestigious ranking " Forbes 30 under 30” with other WIA 54 women such as Damilola Olokesusi (2017) and Vena Arielle Ahouansou (2017). I would also like to highlight the work of Mariam Sherif (Egypt-2019) from Reform studio whose products are sold in all Ikea shops! It was our environmental revelation for the 2019 promotion.
Seynabou, you are surrounded by entrepreneurs every day, you are an entrepreneur yourself, according to you what are the keys to the success of the African entrepreneur of tomorrow?
The African entrepreneur of tomorrow is the one who is not afraid because the continent is in disruption on issues of gender, business and opportunities.
She is also the one who will keep her eyes and mind open on what is happening outside Africa because we must conquer the markets not only Africans, this is where the true influence of Africa resides; when African women feed, dress, entertain the rest of the world!