Here I am in all my naked glory…
If you want to know what I’ll be doing soon . . .
2011: Although there are some people who would like me to become the next “Conference African,” I am actually an entrepreneur! More from Tiossano coming soon, we are stirring and whirring deep and mysterious lotions and potions that will be even more delightful than my talks (that I will keep very limited this year). . .
August 20, 2011: I’ll be giving a TEDxUFM Talk (Universidad Francisco Marroquin) Guatemala City, Guatemala. My focus will be on the theme of “Disruptive Brands as Cultural Innovation”.
December 7-8, 2011: Nairobi, Kenya. I am looking forward to joining fellow entrepreneurship lovers at the 2011 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship of the Legatum Group where superb creators will be celebrated. I will lead a Master Class on the topic of “Executing on that Big idea”.
December 21-24, 2012: 6th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF 2012) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The theme for this year will be “The Entrepreneurship Imperative”. I cannot wait to re-connect with the many friends Michael and I have been making there. More soon.
C’est déjà de l’histoire….
January 22-26, 2011: 5th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF 2011) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My panel was “The Power of Unreasonable People” and Michael’s was “Conscious Capitalism. Watch the highlights of the forum below:
December 11-17, 2010: Le Festival des Arts Negres a Dakar, Senegal/Soiree de Gala a l’Honneur de la Femme Africaine: I was a guest of honor for a Gala Dinner chaired by our President & the First Lady. I was one of the 8 women honored, but I also ended up being the MC for the whole evening. Missed most of the wonderful meal prepared by the very talented Rougi Dia, Chef at the famous Petrossian restaurant in Paris.
November 20, 2010: I was given the utmost honor of delivering a keynote address at the 2010 Wharton Africa Business Forum. The theme was ‘A Blueprint for Africa: Navigating the World’s Fastest Growing Continent’. Little did I know that I would be awarded the inaugural A. Romeo Horton Visionary Award, presented to you by the family of A. Romeo Horton, a Liberian Wharton Alum responsible for founding the African Development Bank, among many initiatives. I am deeply touched and humbled.
November 8, 2010: Dartmouth University. There is “a je ne sais quoi de vraiment sensuel à Dartmouth…”. Maybe it is the romantic grounds and architecture of the buildings, maybe it is the savory local bounties, maybe it is the rich Hood Museum with its unique collections of Renaissance and Baroque prints. But I did not care much for the Irregular Polygons of Frank Stella which I find quite ugly! We also had dinner with an outstanding group of young folks. See here what the students had to say about our talk.
November 3, 2010: Michael and I had a great time with Stephen Hicks. Watch my views
And Michael’s here
November 3, 2010: University of Chicago. Upon arrival, Michael gave me a visit of the superb campus & the main building, where he spent years working on his PhD. Later on, we were hosted by the International House at the University of Chicago to address a diverse audience. Afterwards we went out to dinner with a group of students. I am in awe at the quality of the young people out there. The next morning morning we had a lively conversation & time with Gary Becker & his lovely wife Guity . Gary was Michael’s dissertation adviser & he later won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 94 .
October 29, 2010: After John Mackey, CEO & Co-Founder of Whole Foods, launched the topic by giving a keynote, I had the the pleasure of moderating the Laudable Panel at the 2010 MIT Legatum Convergence. Food fétiche, moi? You must be mistaken :)
October 23, 2010: SACCA Africa Platform 2010: Missing Middle Summit. This summit allowed for a much needed conversation regarding the SME finance gap. I have a lot of respect for SACCA. Of course, I could not resist the roguishness of provoking few people in the room, guess who…
October 7-8, 2010: International Business Conference in Grand Rapid,Michigan. I really enjoyed the no non-sense attitude of the organizers and audience in recognizing that business is THE best way to address poverty around the world! It was also pure fun and delight to spend time with George Ayittey. We were laughing so hard as he was giving me more background on his TED Talk in Tanzania. I’ll never forget that talk…, there in the audience, as I listened mesmerized, something very profound was happening in me, I would only find out later … go Cheetahs!
August 2nd, 2010: Kigali-Rwanda. Michael and I spoke to a group of Rwandan business persons. We focused on marketing and branding products to the cultural creative demographic in the U.S., and found several members of the audience to be very inspired by the talk and eager for practical details. We are in touch with several members of that audience, helping to coach them on their businesses.
June 24-26, 2010: 3rd Annual Winning Ideas Weekend 2010 in San Francisco. We explored the topic of “Prices as Information,” an intergenerational event connecting free markets to the idea of making the world a better place.
April 8, 2010: Furman University, ”How African Entrepreneurs can solve Africa’s Problems and Transform Perceptions of Africa,” Our talk at Furman was co-sponsored by Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow and Furman Global Justice, groups from the political right and political left, respectively. I was somewhat apprehensive about how the two groups would respond to my talk, but found that both sides were very receptive – everyone agrees that entrepreneurship is the best solution to Africa’s problems. After the talk we had a great dinner with students from both sides and were able to discuss more deeply the obstacles to African entrepreneurship.
March 27, 2010: I had the immense honor to deliver the keynote address for the 7th Annual African Economic Forum at Columbia University. The response was overwhelming; dozens of attendees were eager to speak to me after the speech, and for weeks afterwards I received enthusiastic emails. My message, of Africans creating globally competitive companies and brands rather than being relegated to dependency on foreign aid and microfinance, resonates powerfully with Africans. Most developed world do-gooders who spend all their time promoting aid and microfinance have no idea of the depth of the African desire for real respect.
March 22-26, 2010: Central Michigan University hosted by Dr. Hope May, a wonderful Philosophy Professor in love with her students.
Great radio show on the virtues of capitalism the Sunday night before we got there, Conscious Capitalism discussion Tuesday on how entrepreneurs and free markets can solve all the world problems, then we were the judges for the Inspire Michigan! Social Entrepreneurship contest on Wednesday. I loved the winners: Justin Rydzewski (1st Place), Chris Venegas (2nd Place) and Morgan Glazier (3rd Place). Congratulations again to them!
Finally on Thursday Michael and I gave an intimate talk on “Living a Life Across Cultures” discussing the challenges and joys as a couple that bridges three different cultures (Michael is an American, I was born and raised in Senegal, educated in France and spent most of my professional life in the U.S.).
March 3-4, 2010: Ottawa, freezing cold at 10 below zero (Fahrenheit!) where I spoke at a conference on African innovation and prosperity, organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the International Development Research Centre. Several papers interviewed me, including the Canadian National Post, which included this quick snapshot of my talk,
“I would suggest that a lot of African nations start branding their own country one at a time and stop allowing themselves to be put into this box of ‘Africa’,” said Magatte Wade-Marchand, a Senegalese entrepreneur, who launched the beverage company Adina for Life, USA.
She said presenting the right story would encourage more of what she called “conscious” investing by entrepreneurs interested in creating “worthwhile” companies, rather than aid motivated by “pity” or “exploitative” financing by unscrupulous elements within industries such as mining.
Curiously, out of several hundred people at the event, I was the only African entrepreneur: What’s up with that? Most of the attendees and speakers were NGO and government officials.
February 1, 2010: Our College campus tour (my partner Michael Strong & I) got off to a great start as we spoke at Tulane University in the MBA class taught by John Elstrott, the new Chairman of Whole Foods Market. There were several classes combined and we were the main event for 2.5 hrs. We ended up having dinner with John two nights in a row to talk about it all. John is a great man who loves jazz and good food!
December 2009: Several articles came out in German, after a German reporter had interviewed me on economist Paul Romer’s concept of Charter Cities. I had previewed Romer’s TED Talk in which he proposed new cities for the developing world that would be managed by other nations, such as Canada, New Zealand, or Germany. But isn’t that a bit too neo-colonial? My sentiment was picked up by an interviewer in The Financial Times Deutschland,
Magatte Wade, eine Unternehmerin aus dem Senegal, die mit afrikanisch angehauchten Getränken und Kosmetika in den USA Mio. umsetzt, hält Romers Idee keineswegs für Spinnerei: “Wirtschaftlich würde das bei uns einschlagen wie eine Bombe.”
Michael and I are proposing as an alternative an approach whereby developing nations retain control and sovereignty over their land, but implement a form of British Common Law within specified geographical boundaries, as has been done at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), where the leaders of Dubai have applied British Common Law in order to attract capital (see Michael’s article on the DIFC here). Paul Romer has agreed to call these “Charter Cities” as well, acknowledging my criticism that his version will most likely be perceived as neo-colonial.
October 2nd 2009: I had the immense honor to moderate the Panel on Investing in Low-Income Countries at the 2nd Annual MIT Legatum Center 2009 Conference: Progress Through Innovation. At the Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship and Development at MIT, I am a Mentor for other developing world entrepreneurs. Iqbal Quadir, the founder of the Legatum Center and the entrepreneur who created Grameen Phone, is an amazingly original entrepreneur who combines the best of for profit entrepreneurship with social mission. The leadership at the Legatum Center is rightly focused on entrepreneurship as the best way to alleviate poverty in Africa and around the world,and I am proud to be supporting them.
September 8, 2009: See here for a great article at NYT , that mostly represents my views accurately.
The one small correction I would make is to specify that my criticism of foreign aid refers to government-to-government development aid, not humanitarian aid or private initiatives.
March 4, 2009: As many of you know, for some time now, I’ve been serving on the board of Afropop, the leading pathway for bringing contemporary African music to the attention of western audiences. In April they held their 20thAnniversary celebration gala in New York City, where I was the Master of Ceremonies with Harry Belafonte as the guest of honor. I sat next to Harry at dinner and learned what a modest and good man he is, and then presented him with his lifetime achievement award before hearing him speak. Harry’s speech was one of the most moving speeches I’ve ever heard in my life, starting with his experience as a young black child in the 1930s, when Africans were portrayed almost as animal-like as apes in Tarzan films, moving through his experience in the 1960s helping JFK start a program to bring promising young African students to the U.S. to study, and now finally seeing Obama being elected. Most touching of all was the fact that one of the African students who Belafonte helped to bring to the U.S. was Obama’s father – proof that actions we take now can result in consequences far greater than we can hope or imagine. The audience, and I, was in tears as Belafonte described this wonderful triumph.
January 25-27, 2009: I had an opportunity to speak at The Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh, where I debated Peter Brabeck, the chairman of Nestle, in front of a crowd of several hundred of the world’s leading movers and shakers – at one point, in the midst of a passionate debate on organics, I turned and pointed to him saying “I believe in criticizing by creating. You are one of the reasons that I created Adina,” a line which pleased the crowd greatly, putting him on the defensive from there on out.