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Young, Gifted And Firing Back

She is the gunslinger of African entrepreneurs who shoots from the hip. She turned down business degrees at Harvard and Stanford because she thought they could ruin her as an entrepreneur. Her passionate prose peppers like machine gun bullets; yet she weeps at the ills of Africa. Meet Magatte Wade.

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When she speaks, heads turn and minds change. The entrepreneur from Senegal is on an untiring mission, advocating her own brand of Afro capitalism. She turned an age-old African drink into a fashion accessory and raised millions. In 2013, Magatte Wade is back with another idea to tap into her African roots.

Every year, Wade speaks at more than 20 conferences across Africa. Her message is proving to be a popular turn in a business world hungry for hope. It rarely fails to disappoint those expecting a feisty African woman with a reluctance to mince words.

“You can’t just say it sucks and leave it,” says Wade of the continent’s shortcomings, at the Women of West Africa entrepreneurship conference, in Lagos in June.

“If you can’t do business in your country, leave and go to Rwanda!”

When one delegate complains that banks do not want to lend to start-up companies, Wade shoots back across the hall.

“Banks never want to fund start-ups, get over it. What about the money we, women, spend on weddings, millions ever year. Why can’t we put that money to better use in business?”

Wade, educated in Germany and France, has a good line in homespun homilies mixed with common sense in bite-sized pieces, in an accent that swings between New York, Paris and Dakar. Her critics could say she was glib, but that could be too dismissive of a 37-year-old woman, who has made a lot of money and noise. Whatever people say, Wade certainly holds a room with her strident free-market evangelism.

“I ran into a guy from Kenya the other day, who said his friend had quit her job as a banker to open her own hair salon, after hearing me speak in Nairobi. She is now securing private equity funding and has opened her two hundredth salon,” says Wade.

Wade, in the midst of a tiring day, tells FORBES AFRICA her story in the middle of a lounge in a plush Lagos hotel.

It all began at her grandmother’s knee. Wade grew up in rural Senegal, where her grandmother grew vegetables to sell at the market.

“She simply told me that no one could be better than me,” says Wade.

“Her influence was more important than anything else, it helped me become an entrepreneur. That is why I turned down business degrees at Harvard and Stanford, because they would have ruined me as an entrepreneur. These courses teach you to be a good manager, but not an entrepreneur.”

Wade proved herself early in life—she introduced the world to an age-old Senegalese drink made from the hibiscus flower. At the time, the drink was losing out to canned drinks and was dwindling in Senegal.

“All I care about is that now, in Senegal, people are beginning to understand the value of hibiscus. When I started that company, people laughed at me. It was cruel, really, but they laughed and said, ‘Oh, Magatte, after all your fancy education, you’re now going to make flower drinks,’” she says.

“Africans have a bad attitude towards indigenous resources and products… We have a tendency to believe that anything indigenous to us is not good enough and can’t wait to get rid of it, and that’s how they die off.”

The hibiscus drink was called Adina, which means “life” in Wade’s mother tongue. The slogan “drink no evil” helped it take off and the business accumulated $30 million in capital. It saw the shipping of mountains of hibiscus flowers across the Atlantic to factories in the States. It revived the hibiscus growing business in Senegal, attracted investment from Pepsi and made Wade a fortune.

In 2009, Wade left the company when she believed the venture capitalists were taking the brand in a direction that did not represent her. She formed a new company, Tiossan, which she hopes will do the same for the ethnic beauty products of Senegal that Adina did for the country’s hibiscus drink.

“I’m convinced that if people, like me, don’t do what I do, a generation from now, they will disappear because everyone is busy buying western brands at elite level, and at bottom level, buying knock off products from China. Africans don’t believe in the traditional stuff and indigenous knowledge is dying off,” she says.

This time, once bitten, twice shy, Wade wants to stay in control and has fended off investors. Either way, she accepts that business in Africa is not for sissies.

“I also really try to focus on people who have the right mind-set too. There’s a lot of laziness in the system right now but when you find like-minded people, who are not willing to take any shortcuts, I find those people, rally them towards me and I hope that together, we can begin to form a new metric,” says Wade.

For all of her fire, there is a fragile side to Wade. Tears roll down her face as she talks of times of frustration in Senegal.

“I went to the ports, when I started my company, and I saw the customs guys. I said to them: ‘I’m here—I’m a child of Senegal just like you are. I have all my diplomas and more passports than you can imagine. I don’t have to be here if I don’t want to. But, I have nowhere else to go because this is where I came from and I cannot live happily elsewhere, if this place doesn’t get better—I have tried it. At 25 years old, I bought my first home in Silicon Valley, where I was making tons of money, but how could I live that way when there is so much misery back home? I have nowhere to go, this is the only place I have, so let’s make it right but I cannot do it without you,’” she says.

“I would rather die than not have my dignity. People get so excited about money and material things but I couldn’t really care less.”

Money, business, Africa, women and dignity—Wade’s head is full and her legs are on the march. Whatever she says next is likely to be interesting and could change your life.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch below:

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