Magatte Wade — Beyond Microfinance for Africans

Founder / CEO, Tiossano, Senegal

We've got to start looking at the Africans that are doing things, whether it’s for profit or non-profit, that are innovative, in the world-class stature, because I want for Africa to look at that and say, “That’s what I’m aiming for!

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Magatte Wade — Entrepreneurship, Mentorship, and Development

Magatte Wade, born in Senegal, educated in France, launched her entrepreneurial career in the San Francisco Bay area. She is fluent, and conducts business, in Wolof, French, and English. She is now based in the NYC area. Magatte’s first company, Adina World Beverages, was founded in her home kitchen and was originally based on indigenous Senegalese beverage recipes using organic ingredients.

The company has attracted talent from beverage industry leaders, including the founders of Odwalla and Sobe, and is now carried in major national retailers across the U.S., including Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, and trial roll-outs at Safeway and in the Pepsi distribution chain. As a consequence, Adina is the most widely distributed U.S. consumer brand founded by an African entrepreneur. Magatte is currently launching her second company, The Tiossano Tribe, producing luxury organic skin-care products based on indigenous Senegalese skin care recipes. She serves on the board of ASNAPP (Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products), the leading West African natural products industry organization.

She has also partnered with the First Lady of Senegal’s health and education NGO, Association Education Sante (AES) to promote organic Hibiscus in Senegal. She also serves on the board of the SEED Academy (Sports for Education and Economic Development), a private school in Senegal that prepares Senegalese athletes to succeed academically and athletically on basketball scholarships in the NCAA and on the Advisory Board of Trilinc Global, a U.S.-based global impact investment fund. She also serves as a mentor for developing world entrepreneurs for the MIT Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship and Development. Magatte was a featured panelist at the 2009 Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh, and has spoken at Columbia, Wharton, Dartmouth, MIT, Babson, the University of Chicago, and many other universities. She writes for The Huffington Post, Barron’s, and other publications. She blogs at Magatte,

[Bio from the Global Competitiveness Forum website]

Watch Magatte Wade's TED Talk: Disruptive Brands as Cultural Innovation

  • Magatte Wade on Aiming Higher for African Success

    We have to start identifying Africans that are really doing things in a tremendous manner… We got to start taking their stories out. And it shouldn’t be the story of a poor African who, “Look at me, I’m so great. You know, I started this little chicken business company and everybody should treat me like they treat Bill Gates.” I have a problem with that. I have a problem with that because it’s almost like taking us like inferior people. Why is it the world should be clapping us when all you do is you have a regular chicken business? I mean, how many people have something like this going on in America and I don’t see them being featured in Fortune magazine or in Business Week or in anything like that… We have to start identifying serious [African] entrepreneurs that are doing world-class things. Because I don’t want the vision and the inspiration for Africans to be “the next big micro-entrepreneur in the world.” And right now that’s what we’re doing. It’s all about micro-entrepreneurship and everybody’s like so gung ho on it. So instead of having all of this focus on microfinance, which by the way has its goods, but it has its serious limits… we've got to start looking at the Africans that are doing things, whether it’s for profit or non-profit, that are innovative, in the world-class stature, because I want for Africa to look at that and say, “That’s what I’m aiming for!

  • Magatte Wade on the Call to Create

    We all have the same job: create something with whatever is it that you have. The goal is not to sit there and be a recipient of betterness and not having done anything for it… I think as a human being, we all have it in us: the need to contribute.

  • Magatte Wade on Entrepreneurs and Jobs

    We’ve got to be very careful not to try to turn everybody into entrepreneurs because that’s fake, in a way. Not all of us are entrepreneurs. Not all of us want to be entrepreneurs… What people want the most are jobs. That’s what they want. But how do jobs come about? It comes when few of us who are entrepreneurs start these organizations, these companies, that in return create the jobs that the majority of us want so badly.

  • Magatte Wade on High Hopes for Africa

    I want for this sense of trust and confidence to come out from non-Africans when they’re looking at what can come out of Africa now, and I want for Africans also to have a sense of pride, admiration for themselves, and a sense of, “Oh my gosh, we can and we had no idea.” If we can unleash that from both sides, then we win. The floodgates are open, and it is anybody’s guess as to what’s going to happen.