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Happy Birthday Senegal: Five Senegalese Entrepreneurs Impacting African Growth

Applause Africa celebrates the vibrant and colorful nation of Senegal today on their 56th year of independence from French colonial rule. Renowned for their griots, musicians, and cuisine (P.S. They invented Jollof!), Senegal has always been

Applause Africa celebrates the vibrant and colorful nation of Senegal today on their 56th year of independence from French colonial rule. Renowned for their griots, musicians, and cuisine (P.S. They invented Jollof!), Senegal has always been a global epicenter of African arts and culture. More recently, Senegal is playing a prominent role in changing Africa’s technology and digital landscape. The country possesses one of the best Internet and communication infrastructures on the Continent. This along with the current entrepreneurial wave sweeping the country is placing Senegal at the forefront of impacting the African Continent’s growth story.

In honor of Senegal’s Independence, we have highlighted a few prominent Senegalese entrepreneurs, who are changing the game at home and abroad.

1.Mame Khary Diene

Mame Khary Diene, founder and CEO of Bioessence laboratories.

Mame Khary Diene, founder and CEO of Bioessence laboratories.

For Mame Khary Diene, the founder and CEO of Bioessence laboratories, beauty is definitely not just skin deep. Bioessence laboratories is a company dedicated to producing the quality African cosmetics through the use of local products like Shea Butter and Baobab oil. They were recently featured on AcneFoundation.org. After living abroad for several years, Mame returned home to Dakar in 2005. In 2007, she built her laboratory in partnership with her mother in order “to show young people that it is possible to succeed in Africa, it is not necessary to take boats, there is hope, but yes, you have to work hard.” In 2015, Mame was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Diaspora Entrepreneurship with Social and Environmental Impact Award by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

2.Thione Niang

Thione Niang, founder The GIVE1 PROJECT and Co-founder Akon Lighting Africa.

Thione Niang, founder The GIVE1 PROJECT and Co-founder Akon Lighting Africa.

Thione Niang is more than just an entrepreneur. He is a force to be reckoned with. Possessing skills ranging from mentorship to activist to community leader to motivational speaker to consultant, Thione might be one of the most dynamic entrepreneurs Africa has produced this decade. Born and raised in a humble family of 28 in Senegal, Thione resiliently fought to transcend even more obstacles after arriving in the United States in 2000. After working hard to send himself to college while supporting his family, he became an active political campaigner for the Democratic Party. His experience campaigning for President Barack Obama in 2008 empowered him to launch his global nonprofit organization: The GIVE1 PROJECT. Since then, Thione has started several organizations and won numerous awards and accolades. Most recently, President Obama and the Energy Secretary appointed him as an ambassador for minorities in energy in 2015.

3. Adama Ndiaye

Adama Amanda Ndiaye, Founder, Dakar Fashion Week.

Adama Amanda Ndiaye, Founder, Dakar Fashion Week.

Adama Amanda Ndiaye is using fashion to design Africa’s future. Born to Senegalese parents in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Adama left her profession as a banker in Europe to create her fashion label, Adama Paris, in Senegal. Adama however did not stop there. She created the Dakar Fashion Week in 2002 and Black Fashion Week in 2010 to provide a platform for African fashion, designers, and models that were being marginalized within the mainstream industry. According to Adama, her goal is to share “with all modern women, one fashion without borders.”

4. Amadou Daffe

Amadou Daffe, founder Coders4Africa Inc

Amadou Daffe, founder Coders4Africa Inc

Born and raised in Senegal, Software Architect, Amadou Daffe, is spearheading the movement to make the Continent the site of the next technological revolution. As the CEO and Co-Founder of Coders4Africa Inc, Amadou is passionate about empowering young Africans with the necessary skills and infrastructure to become leading software developers for the global IT market. Through Coders4Africa, Amadou is building an indigenous software outsourcing company that will help generate long-term sustainable growth on the Continent. With several local chapters in 7 African countries, it seems that within no time, code will become one of the most widely spoken language groups on the Continent.

5. Magatte Wade

Magatte Wade, Founder Adina World Beat Beverages and Thiossan.

Magatte Wade, Founder Adina World Beat Beverages and Thiossan.

Magatte Wade uses entrepreneurship to positively rebrand Africa globally. For Magatte, the key to realizing her mission is being true to herself, her country, and her Continent. After seeing the marginalization of local culture and tradition on a visit to her home country of Senegal, she took it upon herself to create Adina World Beat Beverages in order to showcase the inherent value of her local culture. Adina World Beat Beverages is a beverage company that manufactures beverages using indigenous recipes across the world and local, organic products from small-scale Asian and African farmers. After stepping down as the CEO Of Adina in 2009, Magatte created yet another company: Thiossan, a high-end skincare company that uses local Senegalese recipes. By starting two extremely successful Africa-focused companies, Adina World Beat Beverages and Thiossan, we think Magatte is well on her way to realizing her personal mission “for Africans to be respected around the world” in her lifetime.

Kanyinsola Obayan
Ithaca, New York – Kányinsọ́lá Ọbáyàn is a PhD Student in Africana Studies at Cornell University, where she is investigating questions of nationalism and postcoloniality; transnationalism, diaspora, and globalization in contemporary Nigeria. She is currently Deputy Editor of Applause Africa.
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