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If you have heard the slogan, “Black is beautiful” then you can easily come to terms with the person and the work of Eunice Cofie. A Ghanian by birth in the United States of America. A true Amazon, in the literal sense of the word. Fearless and bold to face the challenges of life ahead of her.

Behind every forward movement, there is always a pushing force. That pushing force was Eunice’s father who encouraged her to study science. The love for science later led her to major in chemistry/molecular biology at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Describing the origin of her business in a 2015 interview, Colfie said; “One day whilst studying in my organic chemistry lab class, my eyes were opened to the world of cosmetic science” To succeed in life knowledge can never be underrated. Eunice went further to learn the rudiment of theoretical business. She took classes in accounting and utilized the FAMU Small Business Development Center to learn how to write a business plan.

Of course, Eunice worked so hard to attain the height she is today, including the fact that she recognizes the peculiarity and beauty of the darker skin, which she sets out to enhance. Eunice narrated that while she was in the college in US years back, her peers do not easily recognize those God-given qualities which they sometimes taunted her about: the dark skin, the curly thick hair, roving black eyes etc., were what stood her out when she won a beauty pageant.

Eunice discovered early in life that if you look carefully, there is always something in nothing. With this mindset, she recognized that her dark skill was not a disadvantage but rather an advantage and it should be something to cherish. She set out to make an inroad into cosmetics for colored people worldwide.  As a matter of fact, this was the just the impetus she needed to develop her company Nuekie, Inc.

The company’s purpose is to provide quality dermatological products for ethnic people (i.e. African/African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American, Pacific Islander). Today, Eunice is the President and Chief Cosmetic Chemist of Nuekie – an innovative health and beauty company for people of color as earlier mentioned.

Giving back to the society is a phrase commonly used by kind-hearted people. This made Eunice to be engaged in a deep commitment to social causes worldwide which led her to make a positive impact across the globe, specifically in Ghana and the Philippines. While in college, Eunice spent her summers working in a village community in Ghana, West Africa implementing the Save a Million Lives HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Program. 

As the former Miss Black Florida USA, she spent a year promoting her platform Preventing Childhood Obesity and Diabetes through Education and Life Transforming Habits. She was able to contribute greatly to her community by inspiring young people to live healthy lifestyles.

Every human good deed needs a commendation as an encouragement. In 2012, Eunice was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader for her professional accomplishments and commitment to society, as well as her potential to contribute to shaping the world.

The Florida Commission on the Status of Women recognized Eunice with the prestigious 2011 Florida Achievement Award for her commitment to improving the lives of women and families in her community. In 2008, Eunice was named by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper as one of the “25 Women You Need to Know in Tallahassee”.

She has been featured in noteworthy publications globally. Today, AMAZONS WATCH MAGAZINE is lending a voice to this great up-coming Amazon. A true pathfinder!

By Reuben AKOR

My peers are building houses while I am building a business – The real story of a female entrepreneur in Africa.

Once upon a time, I was a good African girl – I had gotten my degree, I had a good job, a husband, a family home, my kids were in good schools – I was living the African dream! Then I caught the bug. It was always there I think, in the back of my head, waiting to rear its head. I started in secondary school as a hobby – baking cakes and making pencil cases for sale, anything to make an extra buck.

When I finished college and got myself a job, I thought my life was complete. But again money wasn’t enough and I had to come up with ideas on how to raise extra money for bills that come with having children and extended family to take care of. With a bit of capital from my salary, I tried investing in a mobile butchery idea, a small restaurant at a bus station and finally a catering business.

After a couple of years, my African dream fell apart and I found myself divorced and raising three kids as a single mother. Being a divorced woman in Africa is the hardest thing and at 28 years old with 3 kids to take care of on my own, I needed a new dream.

I woke up one day and decided things needed to change drastically in my life. Having had enough of living on pay cheque to pay cheque and from one debt to another, I quit my job and decided to try full-time entrepreneurship. Looking back, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, with 3 young kids to feed, I probably should have kept the job and slowly eased into the business.  I registered the business, moved my kids to my parents’ house and out of expensive private schools. I had to talk to my boys and make them understand that life would be different from now on and that we would have to make sacrifices for a better future. I hope my boys understood that at that time it was the best thing to do to secure a brighter future for them.

In 2013, African Sunsets Events was born and we started off with our first women’s empowerment, business and leadership conference called – “Brand Woman.”  The universe will always respond to your requests by first giving you a positive outcome so that you don’t grow faint and give up too quickly.  Our first event went well. It can only get better from here, I thought, as I planned to have more and more events and business conferences that year. We followed the same marketing methods and tried to host a similar conference two months later thinking the cash would come rolling in – our first mistake. People can only attend so many business conferences in a year before the message feels the same and they begin to get bored – especially in a small market like Zambia.

In Africa, when one person sets up a tomato stall and is seemingly successful at it, within a week or two, you will find three more people selling the same kind of tomatoes on the exact same street. Within 6 months of registering the business, there were at least 10 new companies also hosting business conferences within the same city. So the pressure to keep innovating in order to stay ahead of the competition was very real.

By now my bills were piling up again. It got pretty real, pretty quickly and I had to make a decision again to send my boys to live with their dad while I sort out my financial situation. Countless times I thought about how I should just quit the business and get another job. During my toughest times, I soon realized that doing business in Africa is not just about having a good business idea. With little to no funding for startups, it’s not automatic that you will be singing all the way to the bank. But believe me, it is worth the hassle!

Two to three years into the business, we decided to take a new strategy and work on a reality TV cooking competition. With just an idea, no funding and no investors – we moved forward trying to find sponsors for our show – an idea that wasn’t fully formed yet. Once again the universe was on our side, and most local companies gave us support in the form of goods and services that we could use for the competition. But no cash! Miraculously, we traveled around the country and got contestants to take part in the show. With no advertising budget, we used social media and went door to door at restaurants and hotel’s asking chefs to take part in the competition.

Season one proved that our idea was viable and gave birth to different revenue streams through the TV show. We had to be strong and resilient to overcome challenges faced by every startup in Africa.  No funding, even corruption in the private sector, multinational corporations rear its ugly head as someone has to be given something or be promised something for things to happen your way. We have to contend with petty issues as not wanting to give business to local companies in preference to foreign companies, or not wanting to deal with companies run by women. Some companies we contacted for partnership subtly turned us down in preference to companies run by white foreigners. They racially believed that these guys are seen as more reliable. Unreliable supplier(s), service providers and sponsors who just decide the day before an event/recording not to deliver what they promised or not turning up without a word. It can be as this bad!

Setting up a business in Africa has been the most challenging, blood pressure raising, stressful thing I have ever done – but against all odds, we are still standing.

We have faced insurmountable challenges – debt, final demand letters, repossessions, unreliable suppliers, non-existent cash flows, corruption, sexism, racism, loss of friends, unsupportive family members, homelessness and even sexual harassment to get to where we are now.

Five years on and we are on a whole new level. Through synergies and partnerships, season two of our reality TV show – Mastercook Zambia, begins to air soon throughout Southern Africa, we have two new shows in the brand – a celebrity cooking show and kids cooking show. We launched a recipe magazine and a mobile app, Mastercook competition themed Kids Parties and adult team building events. This month we open up an African fusion restaurant and bar right in the heart of Lusaka, Zambia. We have a cooking school to teach adults and children how to cook gourmet meals, called the Mastercook Academy. We also recently launched a range of food and herb based organic beauty products.

Would I change the journey I have had? I don’t think so; it has made me who I am today. I may not yet be like Aliko Dangote or Strive Masiyiwa, but I am slowly building my own empire – like Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray. I hope I can build a culinary empire right here in Africa.

As my peers are building houses, I am out here being misunderstood as I try to build a business empire that Will hopefully be around for my great, great grandchildren to know that I was here on this earth, I survived poverty and hardship and I left them a legacy – this is my new African dream!

By Abigail Mbuzi

About the author: Abigail Mbuzi is the Managing Director, African Sunsets Restaurant, and Bar. Lusaka, Zambia

 

Over the last two decades, Argentina’s wines have emerged onto the global stage, earning both critical relevance and commercial success. As with any industry that continues to grow, more and more questions have arisen not just about what the product is, but how it’s made.

For a long time, the making of Argentinian wine—most notably rich, tannic Malbecs—was a male pursuit. Women rarely held decision-making power or reached leadership positions in the industry. Today, however, women across Argentina are finding a foothold at every level—in viticulture schools, at wineries, in hospitality, and in government. The influence of women on Argentina’s wine industry in recent years has been profound, moving it into more complex realms than “Malbec with a side of machismo.” Here, an introduction to some of the women shaping the future of Argentinian win.

Sorrel Moseley-Williams
For a country that consumes so much wine, there isn’t much of a “by the glass” culture in Argentina. At any one of Buenos Aires’s restaurants—even the critically acclaimed ones—it is common to be handed a voluminous wine list, only to find a single page of by-the-glass wines, usually of dubious quality. This was a problem that sommeliers Sorrel Moseley-Williams and Eugenia Villar saw as an opportunity. In 2015, they created “Come Wine With Us” a pop-up wine bar charging modest prices for by-the-glass wines, and introducing consumers to smaller, independent wineries, as well as highlighting the rosés and whites that often get overshadowed by Argentina’s reds. The pop-ups have found a cult following, and often sell out within a few hours. “Consumers are learning there is more to wine than Malbec,” says Moseley-Williams. “Pop-up events such as mine are able to ensure wine is accessible while stealthily educating, and getting people a bit [tipsy].”

Sofia Pescarmona
This Mendoza-based winery is one of the only major producers to have a woman CEO, Sofia Pescarmona. “Unfortunately there are not many women CEOs in the wine industry, just as there are not many in any industry,” she told us. When Pescarmona came into control of Lagarde, she had to contend with the bodega’s 100-year-old history of creating premium old-world-style wines. She wanted to introduce modern winemaking techniques while respecting the brand’s legacy. To achieve this, she built a team with which she felt she could collaborate—and the results have been a hit. “Women bring less ego to the table and focus more on collaborating with their partners,” says Pescarmona. “I do not believe that great wines are made alone, but by great teams with a shared visit.

SUSANA BALBO
Susana Balbo was not only the first woman to graduate from Buenos Aires’s enology school in the early 1980s, but was also among the first Argentinian women to find a real winemaking job. “The first and most important challenge was to get a job,” says Balbo. “Back then, women worked in the laboratory, and I wanted to work in the cellar defining the wines that were going to reach the consumer. So the biggest challenge was getting my boss to trust that I could handle the male staff in the cellar.” Now, Balbo owns the highly celebrated winery Dominio del Plata, just south of Mendoza, and just a few months ago she resigned from her position as a congresswoman in Argentina’s legislature in order to chair the upcoming W20, the women’s counterpart to the G20 conference in Buenos Aires this November.

Things have certainly changed since Balbo’s early days—today, just as many women graduate Argentina’s enology programs as men. Balbo says that employers are increasingly sensitive to the value that women bring to winemaking: “In my opinion it is because our genetic makeup is developed for caring: for details, for children, for family, for food. So we have natural abilities in the aspect of tasting…which come from years of evolution, where the woman had to identify by aromas and flavors the products that were poisonous and could affect the care of her children…in addition, the ability to do several things simultaneously is a huge advantage in making high quality wines.”

The Vines Resort and Spa is a vision of modern concrete and floor-to-ceiling glass windows nestled in the rolling foothills of the Andes. Also, “The Vines of Mendoza” surrounding the hotel works something like a turnkey farmshare program: wine enthusiasts from around the world are invited to purchase parcels of vines, visit as often as they like, then harvest those vines to create their very own wines. While it isn’t uncommon to find a woman sommelier in Argentina, it is uncommon to find one as influential as Mariana Onofri, who as Head Sommelier of The Vines works directly with private vineyard owners to guide them through the adventure of making their own wines, tailoring their plan to fit their interests and pal

The Uco Valley south of Mendoza began to gain international prominence when French winemaking legend Michel Rolland gathered a group of mostly European investors to create Clos de los Siete (“Group of the Seven”), a winemaking mini-conglomerate which is a must-visit for visitors to the area. His own operation in the group, Bodega Rolland, is today entrusted to Magdalena Rodriguez Maisano, the Chief Winemaker who also oversees the administration of the winery. While Monsieur Rolland is back home in France, Maisano is the boss—and with her winemaking and management prowess, Bodega Rolland has become one of the most critically acclaimed high-end wineries in the region.

Lucia Romero
Lucia Romero, general manager of El Porvenir, says it wasn’t easy to achieve her current position, even though her family owns the business. The far northwest of Argentina is one of the more traditionally patriarchal regions of the country, so there were very few women role models to look up to in the wine industry. After running commercial operations for several years, she left to pursue an oenology MBA, studying wine management in France, Australia and California. “I was lucky that my father gave me the chance to earn this place and that he always respected my work, so the people at the winery followed his example,” she says. “But I do think that women in the industry should be working more closely together…we are good leaders and communicators and can do a great job in any position within this industry.”

A young wise woman once said, “At the core of us is a desire to do what is right, good and just, the sacrifice may be big, and the risks might be daunting, but the rewards are worth it.”

This statement rings true, as many great people have confirmed. When we stay on the right path, our humble beginnings serve as a pointer to an amazing future, and this is the story of Annabel Biggar-David, Founder, and CEO, of Organico; an Essential Oil Company situated in Cape Town – South Africa.

Just like many great people, Annabel had a rough beginning. Her father was a murderer, drug addict, and paedophile, and it took her testimony to put him in behind bars. Being a disadvantaged woman of colour, Annabel grew up on the Cape Flats (an area, situated in the southeast of the central business district of Cape Town and largely inhabited by non-whites), where studying further was not an option.

She started her first business when she was nine years old, making fudge, and eventually expanded her business to toffee apples. Though she was known to be a very brilliant student with a seemingly bright future, a university education did not seem to be in the books for her as life curtailed her ambition to study further.

However, Annabel never letting anything stop her, a go-getter and a pathfinder; she took her life into her hands and ran with it. She got a job and was able to support her family while carrying on her little business. The business soon evolved into making dream catchers and candles which she sold to shops and her colleagues.  She began to make progress and profits as she continued with the hustle, knowing that life is not a bed of roses, and you have to get up and to take from life, what you desire. At 18, she was able to buy herself a car, and taught herself to drive.

A short while later, she met her husband, and they went through a lot together; after a stillbirth, 5 unsuccessful IVF procedures, 2 miscarriages, 7 surgeries for endometriosis, and a nervous breakdown, there was period of stagnancy in her life; but the go-getter Annabel, never giving up on life, eventually decided to do something with her life and resources; choosing to live a purposeful life by contributing towards giving, and creating social impact. She sold her successful business, cashed in her pension, and sold almost everything she owned, to support the green economy while providing the market with incredible products to live a holistic lifestyle. She founded Organico in 2015.

Organico is an exciting Aroma & Holistic Lifestyle Store that produces a variety of health solutions to cater for different aspects of one’s health. It is certified as organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Ecocert SA and has been acknowledged by the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Small Enterprise Development Agency as a success story in creating employment.

Living by her belief in People before Profit, she dedicates her time, savings, heart and soul into making a difference in the society, by assisting disadvantaged women through the proceeds of her business.

Though she is still working hard to move the company to the global space, Organico has come a long way from 2015, and Annabel has been recognized and commended for a good work.

She is a woman with a kind heart, a fierce mind, and a brave spirit, who believes that: “At the core of us is a desire to do what is right, good, true, and just. The sacrifice is big. The risks are daunting. But the reward is worth it”.

We have a chance to stand before the world and do what we’re called to do: Change the world.

Sibongile Sambo, the undeterred queen of aviation was born in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, South Africa, in 1974. South Africa. She showed an interest in aircraft from an early age, watching planes flying overhead and wondering one day if she would fly in those planes herself to different countries, meeting different people.  Although her early career took her into the human resources environment, with companies such as De Beers and City Power, her dream of being involved in the aviation sector never left her.  In 2003, with the South African government passing Black Economic Empowerment Act enabling people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to enter and participate in economic life as entrepreneurs, Sibongile saw an opportunity to fulfill her aviation dreams.  However, having neither prior experience in the sector, nor the capital to purchase an aircraft, posed an initial challenge, but not one that would deter Sibongile from realizing her dreams.

The story is different for how different businesses are started, but a commonality of them all is gotten from the word,“inspiration”. For Sibongile Sambo, she dreamt of being a flight attendant, but she failed to meet the minimum height requirement and was turned away by South African Airways. Instead of accepting defeat, she started her own company, even selling her car and using her mother’s pension in order to set it up.

Sibongile’s first taste of success in the aviation sector came as a result of the winning of a tender issued by the South African government for aviation firms to bid on a contract for cargo transport. Her company, SRS Aviation was part of a joint venture with another firm. Although this collaborative project offered a golden opportunity to enter the industry, the other company soon withdrew, leaving Sambo to learn the contracting process on her own. Now, her Johannesburg-based company provides personalized aviation services including helicopter flights and tourist and VIP charters to destinations including the United States and Germany.

Later, her focus turned to private aviation services, and now the company offers VIP charter flights, tourist charters, and helicopter services with the Johannesburg-based crew flying around the world including to the US and Germany. The company also provides private jet owners with maintenance, sales and fleet management services.

But it has been worth it, as she’s now laughing all the way to the bank. The SRS Aviation is the first aviation company in Africa set up by a woman. She started off brokering contracts for aviation services, and by later that year had scored a lucrative cargo transport contract with the South African Government. Despite the difficulties, SRS Aviation received an Air Operating Certificate by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), allowing it to operate commercial flying activities, and has helped three women get their private pilot licenses. They are now employed full-time

Sambo tells her story as she says; “What I’m proud of about our company is that we have managed to penetrate the male-dominated industry”. On average her company does 10 charters per annum, and that varies. It was tough at the beginning, but the rewards have been totally worth it.Last year, Ethiopia Airlines dispatched its first flight run by an entirely female crew in a bid to encourage more African women into aviation. She wants more South African women to join the effort and make it big as jet pilots. Aviation is growing in Africa. Sibongile believes SGS will grow with the industry.

In the past decade, Ms. Sambo has scored numerous awards including for the Black Woman in Business Awards (2006), Impumelelo Top Female Entrepreneur of the Year and a finalist at the Cosmopolitan Movers of the Year 2007. She was also named a Leader of Tomorrow by Fortune Magazine.

She also believes in investing in people as she says “I’m where I am today because somebody invested in me; it’s my opportunity now to invest in other people.”

According to statistics from a 2017 research, the percentage of female entrepreneurs in the UAE is 33 per cent. This contrasts with the 13 percent female entrepreneurs in the US. It goes further to say that 8 out of ten of these entrepreneurs have very ambitious plans to expand operations beyond their local areas.
Dunia Othman is one of Middle East female entrepreneurs; she co-founded MrUsta (an online marketplace that connects customers to trusted service providers) with her husband Ibrahim Colak, in January 2014, in a bid to promote better services for UAE residents.
The MrUsta platform rests on a win-win model for all stakeholders involved; small service providers struggling to reach more customers, and UAE residents in desperate need of their services. The platform lists a few thousand home service providers – described by the co-founders as ‘Ustas’ – in various categories, with each profile containing not only the contact information and location, but also the reviews and ratings posted by previous customers.
The platform creates a meeting point for service providers and their clients in different regions. MrUsta has been well received in the UAE, with the number of users increasing by over 200 percent in 2015. The platform has since then, recorded a steady month-on-month increase of 96 percent in terms of jobs posted.
Othman saw a need to fill the gap in service as she explains that experiencing difficulties in finding quality service providers used to be a common thread connecting almost everyone living in the UAE. Their business was created as a highly-localized solution to the service gap.
MrUsta was conceptualized a few years before its inception, when the air conditioner at the Othman’s home broke down in the middle of the UAE’s hot summer. After countless phone calls that yielded no results, and what seemed like hundreds of broken promises, they came to the realization that there was a need to connect customers in need directly with service providers in a convenient manner, to avoid a repeat of such experiences. This idea – what is now MrUsta – was so compelling that her husband resigned from his job to focus on the business full-time alongside his wife. Othman’s husband who quit a promising career with Nokia to launch mrUsta with his wife, has not had a single regret since he made that decision.
Othman who is making a difference in the lives of UAE residents by brining services closer to the consumers, summarizes the major challenges facing women doing businesses in her region as:
Learning financial management skills as is required of corporate executives, finding and keeping the right employees in a firm, access to capital, and high cost of public services.
She has a B.Eng. from the University of Auckland, New Zealand and at Post Graduate Diploma in Advanced management from the Institute of Management New Zealand.
In her words, “Don’t let anyone make you feel that being a female is a disadvantage in the business world. An entrepreneur is as good as their skills and abilities gender has nothing to do with it.”
Twitter — @Dunalabun
Facebook —- Dunia Othman
Linkedin — Dunia Othman.

In the East African business circles, few entrepreneurs shine brighter than Njeri Rionge. Rionge is one of Kenya’s most successful and revered serial entrepreneurs; she has co-founded several multi-million dollar companies in quick succession. One of such companies is Wananchi Online, a leading Internet service provider which has gone on to become one of East Africa’s leading cable, broadband, and IP (Internet-based) phone company.

Rionge started her first business at the age of 19, selling yoghurt at schools in the capital city of Nairobi. She went on to sell clothes and run a few other small businesses. Today, she is one of the pioneer women investors in Africa’s IT sector. Wananchi Online is East Africa’s first mass-market internet service provider which has grown to become the region’s leading internet company.

Over the years, Rionge has established a host of other thriving businesses, including Ignite Consulting, a flourishing business consultancy; Ignite Lifestyle, a healthcare consultancy; Business Lounge, one of Kenya’s largest startup incubators; and Incite, a booming digital marketing agency.

Despite her busy schedule, her passion to impart knowledge in young entrepreneurs have not been hindered; the serial entrepreneur shares her passion through Ignite Consulting, which she currently runs as a coaching, strategy facilitation, and skills training centre. Through which she shares her skills with young entrepreneurs in her country, helping them grow their own businesses.

Rionge is passionate about growing businesses and igniting potentials, she believes in Africa as the next economic frontier. She has over 26 years of leadership and change management experience, working with SMEs and entrepreneurs to grow indigenous businesses that can be scaled across Africa. She is also a motivational speaker and life coach, passing on her wisdom and experience to upcoming entrepreneurs.

Rionge, who’s in her late 40s, shows no sign of letting up on entrepreneurship. She is passionate about Africa’s position as the next big economic miracle and wants to contribute to the capacity of the continent to reach its full potential.

Her advice when inspiring upcoming entrepreneurs is to be resilient. Resilience, she believes, or having a strong backbone that can handle challenges, is the key to successful entrepreneurship.