The mining industry in Africa and indeed the world is a male-dominated industry with little or no opportunities for women. In recent time some women have broken the jinx and have created an inroad for women to thrive in this industry.
While speaking with Amazons Watch Magazine, the CEO of Tigui Mining Group Tiguidanke Camara, sheds some light of the challenges she has faced in the mining industry as well as approaches through which women can pull through with their career passions. Except:
In few sentences, please describe the person of TIGUIDANKE CAMARA.
I am an entrepreneur and the founder, Chairman and CEO of Tigui Mining Group, a mining company expanding in West Africa. I am perseverant and passionate. My motto is do not let anything deter you from your dreams. I am also so very proud of my beautiful children, twins Hawa and Mounir Sakho.
Did you have any fears, growing up as a young girl? What were some of your choice dreams and aspirations?
I started working as a model at 14 years old. My parents taught me and my siblings to follow our dreams and to be independent. We had to go out of our way to earn what we wanted to have. They encouraged us to be ambitious.
What informed your decision to move from being a model to your focus as a mining entrepreneur?
I have always been interested in mining. I grew up in Guinea where mining is the backbone of the economy. I learned about it at an early age, visiting semi-artisanal mines with my mother. In New York, I became familiar with the sellers and buyers of gold. Even in the fashion industry, I befriended jewelers who were getting gems from Africa. I firmly believe that the sustainable exploitation of our natural resources is one of the key drivers to the economic development of Africa. What struck me is the lack of native involvement in mining. After the birth of my twins, in the early 2000’s I decided to get involved. I am an African. I know what our needs are. I had to get involved.
Over the years, the mining industry has been perceived as a male-dominated industry. What are some of the challenges you have faced as Chairman/CEO of a mining group and how were you able to overcome them?
It is not a perception. It is a reality. Mining is an all-boys club. Women do face discrimination. But recently, we are seeing a very positive trend and it is important to recognize it. Women are gathering into associations to inspire and empower women. Companies are moving forward to promote an inclusive environment. More and more women are being hired at executive levels. Mentalities are changing positively and it is important to notice it. As for me, the biggest challenges I faced were not because I am a woman. I launched Camara Diamond & Gold Trading Network (CDGTN) in 2008 at the height of the world financial crisis. In the meantime, Guinea was undergoing a coup. Raising funds was extremely challenging at the beginning. CDGTN is a subsidiary of Tigui Mining Group and owns mining assets totaling a surface of 356km2 in Guinea in the highly lucrative regions of Kerouané-Macenta (diamond) and Siguiri (gold).
You are known to be an advocate for women’s presence and role in the mining industry. How far have you fared with that? Are there significant changes as regards opportunities for women since you started this campaign?
I am a member of Women in Mining International (WIM). In 2013, I co-founded the local branch Women in Mining Guinea, in my home country. WIM Guinea has become a successful platform gathering over 100 members. It is a place for women to network, learn about job opportunities and empower others.
At Tigui Mining Group, we make a point to offer equal job and training opportunities and an inclusive work environment. TMG employs women miners and geologists. We are also active in agriculture. In Guinea and in Côte d’Ivoire, we have launched Agromine, a program to empower women and build community resilience through the development of sustainable agriculture opportunities.
In respect to your renowned status as one of the youngest women mining executives and few women mine owners in Africa; are there inroads for women in this industry? What will be your advice to young girls who aspire to be like you?
Women can pave the way and make inroads in the field of their choice. Actually, it has been proven that companies achieve greater results when hiring women.
My advice to young girls is: Follow your passion. Do not let gender-related issues define you. Work hard, have faith and be perseverant. You will face difficulties, challenges and setbacks. It will help you grow. Always be professional. Surround yourself with mentors who will guide you throughout your career.
Where do you see Tigui Mining Group by 2021?
Tigui Mining Group has been strategically active in mining and agriculture in West Africa. It also focuses on other sectors such as oil & energy, real estate & infrastructure, aviation, commerce. In 2017, TMG plans to develop TMG Real Estate & Infrastructure. As an African woman-owned mining company, our goal is to become a key player similar to the major multinational companies.
What’s the best way for the readers of Amazons Watch Magazine to connect with you?
Facebook: Tigui Mining Group