Today, Connor and Brittany welcome Magatte Wade to the show, an incredible entrepreneur who is using the market to fight African poverty.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So today we have a special guest and a friend of mine, Magatte Wade. Maggot is an entrepreneur who is helping people get outta poverty, and she’s using the free market to do it. So Magatte, welcome to the show. We are so happy to have you.
Magatte Wade: Well, thanks for having me, and I’m so excited to be here.
Brittany: Wonderful. Well, to kick things off, one thing I really wanted to know is why entrepreneurship. What drew you to entrepreneurship?
Magatte Wade: Well, what drew me to entrepreneurship is because I really wanted to, I wanted to correct something that I felt was not right. And in my case, the reason why I started my first company is because I was quite upset at the fact that, you know, when I went home for the when I say went home so for first of you guys listening, I am originally from Senegal, the west coast of Africa. And so, I have been living in Europe, primarily in Germany and in France before moving to the United States. And then once I arrived into the United States, I would continue going back home to Senegal, once, you know, a few times a year just to go visit my family and my friends. And this one time I went back home and I was very excited about seeing, you know, showing my, husband, because my husband was from France, and he’s never been to Senegal before. So, I was very excited to show him where I came from, and I was super excited to share with him, you know, my favorite drink when I was a kid, and it was this drink called, Bissap. And Bissap is really, it’s, the hibiscus drink, you know, the flower that you see. So that’s a juice that we make back home. And so for me, that’s juice that I grew up with. And so when I went home to discover, but, my juice, that juice was no longer around. And I was like, what’s going on? And people, everybody in my family, my friends, people are like, where have you been, lady? here we drink, you know, we drink Coca-Cola, we drink Pepsi-Cola we drink Fanta. And I’m like, really? Why? Well, because, you know, it’s a fancy thing to drink. And so I’m like, what happened to the Bissap? Well, that’s just not, that’s just not, cool anymore. and I was really not happy with that because for me, not only did I really love that drink, and also it happened to be a very healthy drink. and at the same time, most importantly, the people who used to grow the hibiscus, meaning the women, they were all losing their livelihoods. They were all losing their source of income, you know, from the selling the hibiscus. So for me, I said, this is a big no-no. On one end, I am having a drink that I loved so much, that is such a symbol of my youth disappearing. And at the same time, you have this poor woman who now, are sliding into poverty more because they don’t, they cannot sell their hibiscus anymore. So that’s when I decided that, you know, I’m gonna criticize by creating, I’m gonna start, a beverage company, and we’re gonna make Bissap and we’re gonna sell it to everybody. And the reduce is gonna be so popular again, that then we can take it back home. And my people can be like, oh, it is cool to drink Bissap, so let’s drink again. And so if they start drinking it again, it means the women are gonna be able to sell their hibiscus. It means we’re gonna be able to make money, and it means we’re gonna be able to take care of our children, send them to school, and all of that good stuff. So that’s why I am an entrepreneur.
Connor: My God, I don’t think we’ve mentioned to our listeners, that you’re actually, in Africa right now, I presume in Senegal. And so that’s amazing that here we are talking across the internet and you’re able to have a conversation with our listeners from, your home. you have made a name for yourself in recent years because you’re trying to focus on entrepreneurship as a way to help people in poverty. Right now, it’s very popular. It has been for a long time to think that people in Africa, for example, need charity. We need to, you know, send shirts and shoes and books and money and food over to Africa because they are so poor and they need help. Why is that traditional, common method of charity, you know, misguided or not totally correct, or however you would describe it. And why is entrepreneurship such an important solution to helping with poverty in your community?
Magatte Wade: Right? So yes, oftentimes people think, oh, G, it is, so isn’t it terrible the poverty in Africa? Oh, and these poor children, you know, they, they don’t have shoes and they don’t have food, so let us help them and let us send them free shoes and free food. And so, you know, I understand it is what it, seems, normal right to think that way, but then maybe let me share with you why it might not be such a good idea and actually might cause more harm than not. So for example, yes, Connor is right, I’m talking to you all the way from Meckhe. Meckhe is a small town in Senegal. It is north of a capital of Dakar. So if you check us out on the map, go ahead and just write down MECKHE and you will see on Google Maps, you’ll see Meckhe. And so one thing that’s very particular about Meckhe, for example, is that the town where I live, it’s mostly artisans who work in the, who works in shoes. So these people can make some of the most amazing shoes you’ve ever seen. Really beautiful shoes. And so, we have all of these shoemakers and, there’s 200, I think there’s 215, little shoe-making companies last time I checked. And each one of them, you know, hires, couple dozen people. I think they said 15 to 20 people. And so imagine, multiply that, let’s just say 10 people per little, you know, shoe-making business, it’s almost like, close to 20, We’re talking about more, way more, I mean, a little bit more than 2000 people, but are being employed by the shoemaking comp, you know, activity. So now imagine that, you know, you’re in America and you’re thinking, oh, wow, I really wanna help. People are poor, they don’t have shoes. And Tom Shoes says, if I buy one pair of shoes, then they’re gonna give one pair two, a poor child in Africa. And so imagine when they when, they, you buy your shoes and they put all, you know, thousands of heavy shoes in a boat, and they bring it over here to make it imagine that. So when the boat comes, what happens is all of these kids, they start getting these free shoes, but then you know what happens to them, or do you know what happens to their parents? Well, all of a sudden their parents lose their jobs because all of a sudden, who can compete against free? Their parents were making shoes and selling it to people. You know, just like you bought, you bought your shoes, and then all of a sudden a trip, a truck comes full of free shoes. Well, everybody’s gonna go for a free shoes, right? Well, if you go for free shoes, what does it mean? It means that your parent can no longer sell the shoes that they were making. It means that the little factory where your mom and dad worked, mom or dad worked to make, you know, making shoes and bringing home the money to send you to school and to buy you clothes and to buy you food, all of that money is gone. And so you can see all a sudden why it is not such a good idea to send free anything anywhere, because what you’re doing, you’re actually killing the businesses that are making what you just sent for free to that place. And so what we tell people is, we understand you wanna help, but in a situation like this, it might have been better just to say, you know, maybe we’re gonna place an order with the shoe-makers that are instant ink and we’re gonna order, I don’t know, let’s say you wanna give out 10,000 pairs of shoes, then you can just place an order with them. Say, we want to order 10,000 pairs of shoes, and then, they make the shoes, you pay them, and then you can take your shoes and go give them for free to anybody you want. That doesn’t harm at all. Actually, in a situation like this, you know, it’s helping because the shoemakers have a, they have more work to do, and if they have more work to do, it can, it means they can pay their employees some more and even maybe hire more people. So, and each person you get to hire, it means that their children get to have what they need. They get to have a medicine they need, they have food, they have water, and anything that they need, their parents can pay for, just like your parents are paying for stuff. So, to me, that’s why entrepreneurship is important because it really helps, families, people take care of our families. When your mom and or dad are making money, they are getting their income from, you know, their job. It means we’re gonna be able to take care of you. But if, where’s that job coming from? It’s coming from the business they work for, right? Well, when you have a business in general, that’s all it is. You are an entrepreneur. And so that’s why entrepreneurship is so important because it gives people a job, and with that job, they get to earn an income. And from that income, they can go take care of all the needs that their family has, and that way your parents can take care of you, make sure you go to school, you get all the things you need, and eventually one day you two, you get to be grown up and you get to also go and do your own thing. Maybe you start a business or maybe you go start work for another business. But you can see how it’s a very really neat circle of, you know, of, just helping people do good and do well and, you know, live good lives.
Brittany: You know, one of my favorite documentaries I saw over the last few years was one that the foundation for economic education made for you. I think it’s made in Meckhe, hopefully, I said that right? Meckhe. I’m so sorry, I’m butchering that. But I wanted you to talk a little bit about Skin Is Skin, because I think what you’ve done with that company has just been really amazing and how you’ve helped create jobs, not just for your hometown, but for a lot of women who hadn’t really been out of the house before. You know, their main jobs weren’t outside of the home. So if you could talk a little bit about your current company and how you’re helping people with that.
Magatte Wade: Yes. So, Brittany, you said it right? It’s Meckhe, and yes, that documentary is happening right here where I am in Senegal. And, so yes, basically what we decided to do is because we, Meckhe is a small village, like I said, and unfortunately what happens in countries like Senegal that are primarily poor, everybody tries to leave the countryside where we are. And they try to go to the big city, to the big city because we think that in the big city, maybe they can get a job. Because remember how we talked about a j how important a job is for most people because that’s what helps you take care of your family, right? So people can’t find a job in there, in the rural areas where we are, and they all try to go to the big city, and there they have tons of problems. It’s just not a good idea. And plus, who wants to leave the family behind, right? Or the community behind. So in our case, what we did is when we decided to start our, manufacturing company, we are making basically skincare products. And, our first line is a line of lip balm, all vegan, made with tons of organic ingredients. We decided to come and to settle in the village. We wanted to come to people so that we can avoid for people to have to leave the communities in search for a job so that they can take care of families. So we came to this tiny little village in the middle of nowhere, and we established our manufacturing factory. And at that point, what we decided to do was to hire, people who otherwise would not have gotten a chance to be hired, simply because first of all, most companies don’t come settle here because of, you know, because it’s kind of far away. oftentimes the infrastructure is not very easy, you know, to go about. It’s just harder to start businesses in rural communities. And so, we came here and, we were very, very, fortunate to find these amazing women who, what is interesting about them is that they never had a job before. have they worked their whole life? Yes, they have worked their whole life, but they work in the home. They take care of, you know, they make food with the families. They go, you know, fetch water. They, do all types of things, but most of the time these women never, ever, ever believed that they could ever have a job one day a job for which they would be paid. And in our case, what really gets me excited is because these women are telling you, oh my God, I never thought in a million years ever that not only that I would have a job because look around, there are really no jobs around. But on top of that, I get to do a job for which I wear this white blouse working in a lab, doing chemistry, and doing some math. They were so excited because these are women that people used to tell, you know, they were made to think and to believe that they cannot do more than being a housewife or just taking care of a home. And they certainly did not believe that they would be, you know, savvy enough to handle chemistry or math. And here they are seeing that they can do it all. They can have a job, and on top of that, they can have a job where we’re, again, doing chemistry. And so, I, what excites me about all of this is how excited I see people become when they realize how much they’re able to do, and when they realize that, you know, them too, can do it. And that’s what I’m seeing in these women. And also to see them feeling like, wow, you mean I don’t have to wait for anyone? I can really hold, a job and take care of my own needs. I don’t need to wait for a husband to take care of me or anything like that. or, but I can also work just like my husband is working and we can have a better life. Yeah. So that to me has been really the most exciting part of, being in Meckhe and doing business here. And on top of that, the other thing that you guys might enjoy hearing is that we have a little Montessori-inspired school for the children of our employees. And it’s really cute to see the kids being able to hug their moms, you know, multiple times a day, you know, because, the two, the two places are very close to each other. And so that’s also what we get to do. So I’m really excited and happy when I’m here. And I think it really, I don’t know how to express it. it’s just such a feeling of happiness when you see people who are able to manifest the best versions of themselves. When you see people who realize that they’re as good as anyone else, and when you see that their children also are gonna have a really, really great future. So when I’m here, I have to say, I’m just the happiest woman in the world. So right now, yeah, I’m in my happy place.
Connor: Maggate, this is an awesome story because we so often talk about entrepreneurship, and we think big business and making a lot of money and big companies, but entrepreneurship is really about the small business owner. It’s about the one person who’s trying to move their way up the economic ladder. They’re trying to better provide for their family. They’re trying to give their children a better life than they had. And those were the stories of impact that show how powerful entrepreneurship is. for all of our listeners out there, we are going to link to a number of things. The video that Brittany mentioned, the story about Maggate, you can learn more about her. So head to the show notes page at Tuttletwins.com/podcast, and you can check that out. Maggot, thank you so much for taking the time all the way from Africa to share this story with us, and we’ll be sure and share more of these resources with our listeners. So thanks again for coming on.
Magatte Wade: Thank you to both of you guys. I love your work. Thank you. I love, yeah, I love everything. You, I love everything you do. So thank you.
Connor: Thank you.
Brittany: It is always fun for me to have Maat on or to talk to Maat in general because, we’ve been friends for maybe three or four years, but every time she tells the story of her entrepreneurship background, I get a new piece of the puzzle. So I didn’t know about the Hibiscus drink. That’s the first time I’ve heard that story, and I’ve written about her dozens of times. So that was really fun. It was really fun to talk to her about something new.
Connor: And for those who wanna learn more, again, head to Tuttletwins.com/podcast. But you may know if you’ve already read it, Maggete is one of the people we included in the Tuttle Twins Guide to Inspiring Entrepreneurs. She has a fun story. She’s a force of nature. Make sure you go watch that, little documentary, video that Brittany mentioned. So head to the podcast page, lots of fun resources there. Pick up the guidebook, inspiring entrepreneurs. Check it out at Tutlletwins.com/products. Thanks, everyone for listening as always. And until next time, Brittany, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.