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Magatte Wade: Tiossan

Magatte Wade is an inspiring example of a female entrepreneur who has emerged from Africa and gone worldwide. A self-made success and a celebrated international speaker, Magatte is an advocate of positive change in business, gender roles, and Africa. After studying business and moving to the US, Magatte started Tiossan, a company that produces luxury organic skin-care products based on indigenous recipes from her beloved home country of Senegal.

We jumped at the chance to speak to Magatte and find out what inspires one of Forbes magazine's “20 Youngest Power Women of Africa”. She tells us more about the 'Tiossan Tribe', the future of Africa & her top tips for feeling good everyday:

Tell us the story behind Tiossan & what inspired you to create it:

I created Tiossan (tee-oh-sahn) to share the with the world "The Culture of Well-Being à la Sénégalaise". As a child of Senegal, I learned from my people and grandmother, in particular, that a beautiful skin comes from well-being. And that well-being is truly a mindset, that permeates all aspects of your life, all the time, everywhere. Perhaps it's why the Senegalese always look so great, with beautiful smiles and amazing skin, joyful, regal, fit and embracing of others. It seems like the well-being we work so hard to achieve, they just live it! Just like that! No fuss, no muss.

If you ask them the secret to their genuine well-being, they will tell you that for them, well-being is as much about having good skin as it is about feeling good in your own skin. It is as much about our amazing skin/body care products and ingredients, and the daily rituals associated to it, as it is about the mindset of our unique culture, a culture in which feeling good about yourself is the default set-up, along with good food, intimate friendships, athletic activities, lively conversation, bright colors, heartfelt laughs, walks on the beach at sunset, and an inspiring hope and faith in the future, while living meaningful lives.

However, what I see now is the modern-day approach to well-being -  an idea that it is an isolated, moment-in-time appointment with it. All of us strive/yearn for pure, deep well-being. Too often, most of us think it is just about this creme, that yoga class, or this organic produce or that paleo diet. We think of health and well-being as a particular moment in time or a particular aspect of our life, and work really hard for it, for a moment.

As a child of Senegal, this is one of the things about my culture that I most proud of, and love with all my heart. So much that I decided to create Tiossan to bring it all to people around the world. The goal of the Tiossan Tribe is to immerse folks in a unique culture of well-being, as modeled by my Senegalese Elders, for the skin and beyond into the soul itself. I created our products to give people good skin, while our unique culture makes everyone feel good in their own skin, all in the most natural and effortless/authentic way.

After all, Tiossan means the "Origins of Culture & Humanity" in Wolof, the main indigenous language of Senegal.

You speak very passionately about Africa. What is your biggest wish for the continent in the next decade and how do you see this becoming a reality?

I would love to see Africa leapfrog forward in terms of development.  We can't do it in a decade, but we can take key steps. First we need significantly more economic freedom in Africa. Almost all of Africa is less economically free than socialist Bolivia or Nicaragua, and that has to change. Second, I'd like to see a lot more education and training in design, marketing, and entrepreneurship.  Our existing education system is developing a modest pipeline of engineers and accountants, which we clearly need.  But we need many more creators with the capacity to develop brands and experiences for the global market.

Awareness is key in both domains. Rwanda has made dramatic progress in improving its business climate. Between 2004 and 2012 they reduced the number of steps needed to start a business from nine to two and cut the time required from 18 days to two days.  During the same period it grew by almost 5% annually with more recent growth in the 8% range. If all of Africa reformed with Rwanda's aggressiveness, hundreds of millions of Africans would escape poverty in the next decade.

Likewise with respect to innovations in education, in addition to the education projects we are funding through Tiossan, I've spoken with several leading African political and business leaders about the need to create new pipelines of talent.  Most of them have hitherto been focused on traditional business and engineering degrees. But creativity and entrepreneurship are the future, and we need to begin developing the institutions that can position Africans to be global leaders rather than just consumers and employees.

What three pieces of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs just starting out?

  1. Be knowledgeable about the niche that you want to fill in the marketplace.
  2. Be committed to building long-term value for consumers.
  3. Develop a team of reliable, high-quality people and treat them well. 

What are your top tips for feeling good every day?

  1. Sleep well.
  2. Follow Tiossan's daily health ritual for the skin: first, cleanse gently with our Le Griot Body Wash, then exfoliate with our Le Soufi Body Polish, and moisturize the whole body with our La Téranga Body Lotion.
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast of lean protein and fruit - and avoid sweets and refined starches.
  4. Start with a peaceful cup of tea and feel gratitude for everything good in your life.

What’s your favourite way of having baobab?

As a fresh juice, on ice with a pinch of nutmeg. Un délice!


You can find out more about Tiossan on their website

Click on the links below to watch Magatte in two inspiring TEDx talks: 

"The four stages of bringing an idea to life"

"Disruptive brands as cultural innovation"