On this episode, we interview Fadila Bennani, who decided to leave her stable job at Groupon in Casablanca after she had her daughter, so that she could fulfill her lifelong dream of creating a socially and environmentally responsible and authentic Moroccan brand now called Amaz.
Bennani was always into shoes as a student in high school and the university, but working as a consultant, she couldn’t wear sneakers in the office. At the same time, she was inspired by smaller brands launching online and growing fast in Europe, which were appealing to a more conscious consumer.
Now her shoe company, Amaz, takes traditional forms of Moroccan textile weaving to create both social and environmental impacts, at every level of its operation. “Amaz for Education” works as a give-back program which for every sneaker sold, one day of school is financed for a young girl in Morocco. They’ve raised they equivalent of over a year of schooling since the program started.
Her experience in e-commerce also opened her eyes to frivolous consumption of low value products. Working with recycled material and using traditional textile weaving of plastic bags, she has upcycled the equivalent of 500 standard plastic bags, and 700 VHS tapes (using the film).
By utilizing Moroccan know-how and craftsmanship, Bennani continues to build an ethical, eco-friendly and socially sustainable sneaker brand in Casablanca.
On this episode we speak to Stephen Kyei, a shoemaker in Ghana using innovative tactics to create shoes from cork sheets. After working for some time in oil and gas companies throughout Ghana, ensuring environmental safety standard were met and getting his environmental resource management certificate.
At the same time, he was importing leather goods from India and Spain to resell, and the business grew, until he reached a point he need to focus 100% on the business. From there, he started researching other sustainable resources he could use to build his products. He landed on cork sheets from rare cork trees.
Gideon Dendzo was in his second year at when his little brother, Greg, started his first year at the same university in Ghana. At that point, he noticed that the amount of money his parents could afford had to be split in two. As a result, he needed to find a way to support himself on campus.
At the same time, he noticed that his male classmates weren’t able to find affordable, durable shoes to wear at the university. As a food process engineer, he started to apply conveyor belt processes to create environmentally sustainable shoes that would last. From 5 pairs, to 65 pairs he quickly realized he was also providing employment for the community.
Babacar Lo is a serial entrepreneur from Dakar, Senegal. He has also been a university professor level for ten years. There, he realized that people were going to business school for a Master’s Degree, but were not getting traction once entering the job market. He clearly saw that students were not being prepared with the practical skills needed to jump into a new job and hit the ground running.
Students were trained to pass through a process with certain academic requirements, and not being trained with skills they need to succeed in the market.So in 2017, he founded Taag Education, a platform that identifies the hard skills and soft skills needed for specific job positions in Dakar.
Antoine de Mirbeck and Redouane el Haloui founded @peecoopcom in 2020 but have known each other for years. Peecoop is a free mobile application based out of Casablanca, Morocco, which allows you to quickly find and geolocate a scooter, a mini Honda, or a pick-up to transport all your goods; your “Uber Freight,” if you will.
Peecoop now has more than 1,000 verified “peecoopers” who are currently referenced and deployed in Greater Casablanca to respond to all your requests without you having to move from where you are.
Rosemary Kwofie and Edward Neequaye met at University in Ghana and founded @Built Accounting in 2016. They participated in the 2019 round of the @afidba, a multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder, international, and bilingual program dedicated to the inclusive, digital, and sustainable economic growth in continental Africa, in partnership with @positive planet international.
Faso Attiéké produces fresh and dried cassava couscous (attiéké). The company produced 542 tonnes of attiéké in 2019 and currently employs 50 full-time employees. Florence Bassono founded the company in 2015 after being stopped at the border. She was forbidden to bring attiéké into her community in Burkina Faso, an essential piece of their diet. She now works with 500 small-scale cassava farmers. They’ve differentiated themselves from the competitors through the quality of their products and their brand image. Faso Attiéké’s is having a tremendous impact on the community. By creating over 50 full-time jobs, providing sustainable income to over 500 local farmers and 200+ female cassava collectors, Florence’s presence goes far beyond the kitchen.
Fanta Mone founded Malaika’s Garden schools in 2015. She is, first and foremost, a mother. Always smiling, she is very attentive to the needs of the children she welcomes daily. Fanta is a passionate entrepreneur who is constantly looking for solutions to ensure a suitable and quality education for many children. She wants to support parents in making the new generations “grow and shine.”
She joins us today with a fellow mother and English teacher at the school, Mrs. Traore, to help translate this conversation in real-time.
Kitambaa, which symbolizes and evokes ‘dignity’ in Swahili, aims to provide young African girls and women of childbearing age with washable pads that meet their hygienic needs to enable them to go to school and so to participate equitably in national development. By reducing the upheavals caused – in their education and their lives – by their periods and the lack of accessibility to disposable hygiene products and adequate infrastructure, Kitambaa provides an ecologically and financially sustainable solution while answering her community social needs.
E-cover aims to solve the problem of waste management in Africa by upcycling in an eco-friendly way in order to create marketable resources.
Mbeubeuss is an open-air landfill in the capital of Senegal, Dakar. This landfill exposes the entire city to many fumes and filth every day, leaving all surrounding communities to live in dire conditions. There are such limited options for them that they are forced to find ways to extract iron and steel contained in the tire waste and resell it. They are exposed to illnesses such as pneumonia, mycosis, and cancer. Surrounding communities have voiced complaints with little to no response.