Senegalese entrepreneur visits CMU

The idea that Senegalese women have more freedom than American women is something a lot of Americans might not be able to fathom. Magatte Wade, a successive entrepreneur born in Senegal, who was educated in France and started her entrepreneurship career in San Francisco Bay, wanted the audience at the French Auditorium to know that things are different in her country.

The topic was “Human rights & Gender roles: The case of Senegal”. Michael Strong, a co-speaker for the night, gave an overview of Senegal. He informed the audience that Senegal is “one of the two African nations with no civil war or coup d’état. It is a country with beautiful beaches, nice weather and very hardworking citizens. He also clarified that Senegal is 95% Sufi- Muslim and contrary to what the media feeds people about Islam, Sufism preaches peace, love, and non-violence and this might explain why there has never been a civil war in Senegal.

Women play an important role in the Senegalese society. Magatte Wade informed the audience that the Senegalese government has a Ministry of Women and Child whose number one priority is to attend to the needs of women and children in the country, one the United States can not even boast of.

As a serial entrepreneur who started the company known as Adina Beverage Company, and working on her second company called Tiossano, she talked about discovering her true self when she came to America. She fell in love with the country because “there were no limits” and that was what I love about America, quite frankly,” she said.

Wade explained how she was able to build a multi-million dollar company in America. It was through hard work and knowing that one individual could make a difference. Coming from a country where she is taught to “work as if you will never die and pray as if you will die tomorrow,” she said, made a difference in her life.

Growing up as the first child in her family, her father instilled confidence in her and did not treat her differently because of her gender. Wade explained the benefits of hard work, telling the audience that they could make a difference – “anything that does not make sense to you, go out there and do something about it,” she said. Her beverage company became successful because she realized that thousands of young Africans risk their lives every day trying to cross the ocean into Europe, for a better life and many of them end up not making it. Also, when she visited her home country Senegal, she realized that Coke products had replaced the traditional hibiscus drinks. Worried that the drinks and the heritage would be lost, she started a company that produced hibiscus drinks. Today, the company has helped “create jobs at home to stop people from travelling through boats” to European countries.

“It has been a very fulfilling journey,” she said. The fact that she could give Africans people jobs and give them back their dignity has been a rewarding experience for her and she hopes to continue this work with her second company – a skincare line of mainly natural ingredients from African countries.