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Monday, February 19, 2018

Celebrating the Whole Woman 40 for 40 Initiative by Maame Afon Yelbert-Sai


The Whole Woman 40/40 is an initiative by Maame Afon Yelbert-Sai. The initiative seeks to bring together women of the diaspora into mentorship relationships to enhance their life and career growth. The initiative will select 40 seasoned career women and match them to 40 younger women in the Diaspora.  What is so phenomenal about this to us it is the ultimate definition of sisterhood, women working together to support the growth of other women.
What is also magnificent about this is that Maame is raising these funds to mark her 40th year milestone on this earth! What a grand act of service and a blessing. 

She states  "One of the reasons for dreaming up Whole Woman 40/40 is to facilitate a process where Blueprints for Success, Growth, Personal Development, Impact , Influence and Innovation can be shared across generations. Two weeks ago, I participated in the 2018 Africa Business Forum at the University of British Columbia where we focused on the theme "Blueprints for the Next Generation: Shaping the Driving Force Behind Africa's Growth"--Invigorating & Refreshing!"

To support this initiative and to make a donation follow the Go Fund me Link here Whole Woman 40 for 40


Photocredit UBC African Business Forum

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Celebrating Sisterhood: Celebrating the Legacy of Patricia Msiwa









It is a new year and I am excited about the shift and the direction we are going. In the beginning of this year I heard news of the passing of a dear sister of mine Patricia Miswa. We met in 2012 when she featured my work with Women|Change|Africa on her platform Afroelle Magazine. Since then we began to build what I would call a solid relationship--a sisterhood. We had never met in person but in true Patricia fashion she opened up to me and we started to build a relationship, over the 5 years we gave each other advice from personal to career to business and we were there for each other in unimaginable ways. In early January, I was shocked to find out that Patricia passed away from a sudden illness. She had come to the U.S. for school and we were both so overjoyed that she got into the program she applied for. I was in total and complete shock, my entire world felt as if the ground opened up around me. I cried that day. I wept that day like a child. She never said goodbye, but she always wished me well as I did for Patricia. I started to reflect on Patricia's life and how she built this powerful community of women through Afroelle magazine. What a legacy of sisterhood she left behind!  This is what I believe is what made her stand out was how she treated all of the women she worked with, with dignity and respect. In 2015 I interviewed Patricia for  For Harriet Magazine for her initiative she was raising funds to launch a coffee table book for her platform and I am so glad she was able to finally do an interview! I will always cherish our sisterhood and our bond that we shared. This is why this month I celebrate her life and her legacy of sisterhood through the launch of the second Love and Sisterhood Series Part 2. I learn every day that we must celebrate each other's legacies whilst we are still alive, so that our voices are even more powerful once we transition to the next life. 


Rest in Paradise Patricia Msiwa
This month we take some time to reflect on the women in our lives who mean so much to us. This month is usually celebrated by love for couples but us here at WCA believe so firmly in the importance of nurturing black sisterhood, that of course we had to kick off the year right sharing what Sisterhood means to us. Sisterhood for me is a very intimate space, a place where you can be yourself with those you choose to call sisters. I have learnt over the years that sisters do not necessarily have to be family, they can be close friends who become just like family to you. Recently this weekend I spent some time with two of my closest sister friends Bunmi and Liz and we had such a great time. All we did was eat, dance, listen to great music all in the comfort of one of my sisters homes. It was the absolute best thing that happened to me this month as it was so refreshing. Every time i spend time with my sisterhood, I get a certain type rush of positive energy. I reflect every so often on what sisterhood means to me. And to me it is having a core support network of women who I can look to for advice, support, inspiration  whilst providing the same back to them. It means sacrifice and having their back no matter what, it means that even in times of conflict and when seasons change we find a way to apply grace to each other to get to a better place. It means knowing when to be humble and apologize for our mistakes when we wrong each other. It means saying prayers in support of each other's life dreams and goals. 

As I reflected on all of this I realized how black sisterhood and sisterhood in general is one of the things God has blessed me with in my life are solid women who are constantly in my corner. As I step into 2018, a lot has changed, a lot of growth has happened, a lot of people have come and gone but one thing remains true is that when women genuinely support one another in any area of our lives, we all WIN. I know Patricia's spirit lives within the work that every woman does to amplify the voices of African women.  This month I celebrate every sister in my life and I hope you can join us in celebrating your sisterhood as well.


Here is to an amazing 2018 and I look forward to building with each of you. 






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Monday, October 16, 2017

5 Apps Built by African Women, by Tatiana Kombo


Women entrepreneurs are a key driving force in Africa’s current and future prosperity. Sustainable economic development depends on gender equality, the empowerment of women, and the amplification of their voices and entrepreneurial endeavours. Several initiatives, such as She Leads Africa continue to successful foster a culture of business innovation among African women. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Africa has the highest number of women entrepreneurs relatively to other continents. These five applications are examples of contributions African women have made to the tech space in their native countries, thus accelerating their economic empowerment:
  1. FashPa Online
Founder Honey Ogundeyi is revolutionising online retail in Africa with FashPa, which is short for “fashion parade.” By becoming an important contributor to the Nigerian fashion market, as well as its tech industry, she is intent on ensuring a legacy of first class retail business in Africa, by Africans.
  1. Jumia Ivory Coast/Jumia Nigeria
Founder Fatoumata Ba launched her online retail platform Jumia Ivory Coast in 2013. Soon after, it became the fastest growing African e-commerce site with more than 500,000 monthly unique visitors. Fatoumata later took on the role of  Managing Director at Jumia Nigeria, the largest e-commerce site on the continent in market share, employees and revenues. Customers across Africa have the opportunity to purchase everything from consumer electronics, to  fashion, home appliances and beauty products. She is currently in the Jumia Executive Committee, and has been featured in Forbes Africa 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, amongst other notable awards.
  1. Lizzie’s Creations
Founder Elizabeth Kperuun created her company in order to develop mobile and web applications aimed at the education and development of women and children in Africa. Lizzie’s Creations utilizes digital innovation to educate children on their continent’s languages, heritage and history. The Nigerian company is best known for its interactive storytelling app, “AfroTalez.” More recently, Lizzie’s Creations has launched “Teseem,” an app that teaches young children their first words in Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and English.
  1. Loue 1 Voiture
Founder Nour Drissi’s company is the first online platform that allows you to reserve a car from hire companies in Morocco. The company provides full service car rental at the most affordable rates in order to save time. Loue 1 Voiture, French for “rent a car,” accompanies you through the car rental process, offering comprehensive pricing comparisons over thousands of offers, therefore making it significantly easier and safer to successfully select and book a car.
  1. Tress
Co-founders Priscilla Hazel, Esther Olatunde and Cassandra Sarfo, all software developers, created a social community mobile app targeted at black women seeking hair inspiration and advice. Hailing from Ghana and Nigeria, the female trio wanted to  address the lack of information on the styling of black hair, providing their users with stunning visuals of hairstyles, as well as specific information on products, stylists and pricing in their localities. Addressing diversity within the black community, the app refreshingly feature a range of natural hairstyles.

Photocredit WOC in Tech Stock Images 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Angela of NaturAngi: Blogger of Italy’s Natural Hair Movement By Candice Whitney


Angela of NaturAngi


At the beginning of 2014, the natural hair movement in Italy took off through blogs and online communities on social media. Inspired by the natural hair movements in the US, UK, France and Belgium, AfroItalian online influencers such as Angela Haisha Adamou of NaturAngi and Evelyne of Nappytalia launched their pages to increase knowledge about self-love and to build networks amongst AfroItalians, or African descendants living in Italy. In a country where the politics of AfroItalian belonging are only at the beginning of getting explored, these online resources represent some of the few places where the intersection of AfroItalian identity and womanhood are discussed through hair care. Angela’s decision to launch NaturAngi.it in January 2014 was inspired by not only movements she witnessed in the other parts of Europe and the United States, but by her life experiences in Italy as an Italian with Ghanaian roots. On her award winning blog NaturAngi, she offers tutorials, product reviews, advice, and suggestions on where to find products in Italian and English. My conversation with Angela focused on various aspects of the natural hair movement in Italy, such as the importance of representation and how her experience from a small town shapes her role as a natural hair blogger.


Angela’s first book, Love is in the Hair, Volume 1, Consigli per aver ricci belli, sani e senza capricci, was published in June 2017. The book is available on Amazon in both Kindle e-book format and in print. 
                                      

Representation Matters

Initially started as her space to share about the beginning of natural hair care journey after doing a big chop, her blog became a space where other women with curl afro hair in Italy would be able to find themselves represented in the hair care and beauty fields.
The needs of AfroItalian women are excluded at stores that sell hair or cosmetic products, as tints and the like are not available in dark tones. Angela describes AfroItalians as a “hidden community” not yet prioritized by major beauty companies. Even though LancĂ´me has been selling darker skin tones for years, these products are often of higher cost, compared to those sold by KIKO Milano. “When I went to KIKO to find products for a make up tutorial workshop I organized, I found affordable dark skinned tints. At KIKO, I matter.”

Representation is the essence of Angela’s blog, as well as other blogs and e-commerce sites such as Nappytalia, AfroItalian Souls, and AfroOn Hair Addict. Even though Italy does not conduct racial or ethnic statistics, research by the country’s national statistics committee, ISTAT, states that nearly 20%, or 1 million of the country’s immigrants are African. Much of Italy’s African population comes from West African countries such as Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana. These online influencers and e-commerce sites demonstrate how hair is political in Italy, specifically that Africans and AfroItalians are integral to the country and must be considered as valuable members of Italian society.


Angela and the founders team of the online magazine AfroItalian Souls. L-R:
Naths Grazia Sukubo, Angela Haisha Adamou, Bellamy Okot
Photo Credit: Angela Haisha Adamou

Experience as a natural hair blogger in Italy

Angela launched NaturAngi as a platform to inspire people to learn more about how to take care of natural hair, and to develop a network of other AfroItalians across the country who were learning to take care of their natural hair. She shared that most Africans and African descendants in Italy have been pressured to relax their hair, as that has been taught as easier to manage. Through NaturAngi, Angela promotes knowledge of taking care of natural hair. “If you don’t know the ways you can take of your natural hair, then how can you choose which styles are best for you? If you don’t know, you’re not free.” NaturAngi promotes the value of hair care knowledge to make the best informed decision about which hairstyles to wear.

Coming from a small town in the northeastern region of the Emilia Romagna, she used her blog as a means to reach out to other bloggers and learn from them as well. Many of her contemporaries are based in metropolitan areas, such as Milan and Rome. Most immigrant families and their children are spread out across cities in the country, compared to segregation in the United States and France. Due to the dispersement of AfroItalian communities, Italian based e-commerce sites for natural hair products have also emerged, such as Vanity Case, Nappytalia and AfroRicci, and ship to the doors of their customers.

The team of Roots Evolution: Sofia Bodian, Aida Aicha Bodian, Fatou Bodian, and Fatou Coly, and Angela Haisha Adamou. Photo Credit: Angela Haisha Adamou
                           

Angela uses the relatability of her experience as a black Italian in a small town to reach out to other AfroItalians across the country. “I try to be as natural as possible [on my blog and in my videos]. I film myself in situations when most people like me do their hair, such as tired after work at the end of the day and in front of the bathroom mirror.” Due to the collection of AfroItalians through online and social media spaces, the movement in Italy revolves around social influencers such as Angela and her contemporaries Evelyne of Nappytalia and Belsya Shabani of AfroOn. For individuals or businesses interested in reaching out to AfroItalians as a target consumer, Angela suggests to contact influencers in Italy to collaborate.

In addition to founding naturangi.it, Angela Haisha Adamou is the Secretary of the association Roots Evolution, co-organizer of the country’s first Afro Beauty & Fashion Expo, member of the country’s first national body for new generation Italians CoNNGI, and social media manager for the online community The Black Side of Beauty. She is also the author of the first e-book and guide dedicated to natural hair care in Italian, Love is in the Hair.

Written By Candice Whitney
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