Magatte Wade recently recalled returning from the United States to Senegal and finding out that many Senegalese preferred foreign drinks to the country’s traditional hibiscus drink, known as bissap.
“When I went to Senegal, I was sorry to see that many young people were turning away from the bissap. They wanted to drink America sodas. While the cultivation of hibiscus leaves is truly part of Senegalese way of life,” the Senegalese entrepreneur said, according to Afroculture.
“The culture of the bissaps brings the women of the village to life. These cultures make it possible to combat the rural exodus. But, I understand that consuming Western products is a way for Africa to show that they have succeeded,” she added.
With the mindset that Africa can move forward with a strong manufacturing sector, she created the multi-million dollar U.S. company Adina World Beat Beverages, which started making drinks based on traditional recipes from Senegal. She gave birth to the idea in 2004.
“I created a company whose mission was to reintroduce these beverages and, in the process, put back to work all of those women who used to grow the hibiscus,” she told the BBC. At its peak, the company reportedly made a turnover of $3.2 million.
Wade self-financed her beverage company and later partnered with a “great person” who would become a co-founder. “And then we went right away for friends and family money. We raised a significant amount to work with. Later on, the same people plus more came back to invest some more, and eventually at run number three we took venture capitalists’ money,” she said.
To produce her bissap drink, Wade imported her hibiscus leaves to the United States. In 2012, CNN reported that her drinks were being sold all over the United States. “My biggest pride was to know that it was possible, that the vision I had was possible and my vision was that the world is hungry for well-executed African brands,” Wade told CNN.
“We saw it at the investor level and we saw it at the buyer’s level and we saw it at the consumer’s level. Everyone wanted to be part of that adventure and it was just amazing.”
In 2009, Wade resigned from the company she established after noticing that the board of the company was deviating from the vision she had for the company. Not resting on her oars, she decided to create a new company known as Tiossano to produce high-end skincare products based on traditional Senegalese recipes. She also became founder and CEO of SkinIsSkin.com, “the lip balm with a mission,” according to her website.
Today, Wade is not only a serial entrepreneur but an inspirational speaker and a visionary business leader whose passion is to create positive change in Africa.