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Senegalese Entrepreneur Benefits from YALI

Senegalese Entrepreneur Benefits from YALI
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Senegalese Entrepreneur Benefits from YALI

One year after participating in President Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (now called the Mandela Washington Fellowship) in Washington, 27-year-old Ndeye Absa Gningue is back in Senegal — her home country — and thriving.

Gningue was recently promoted to IBM’s software cloud portfolio manager for Middle East, Africa and Turkey after serving as the software group marketing leader for North and West Africa for the computer giant IBM.

And her clothing brand, Aduuna Bul Comprendre (ABC), is flourishing.

“I am still handling ABC which is my brand with more than 26,000 fans on Facebook and growing,” she said.

Gningue said she used to be called a bulldog with lipstick in Dakar because her focus was all about making money. But after studying at the University of Texas in Austin and participating in YALI, a lot has changed. Helping out at a food bank really opened her eyes.

“The way you step back and look at the world and say this is a whole ecosystem where [one] can benefit from each other through networking and where I can help others through community service is just an outstanding view of how I benefited from YALI,” she said.

She has also been involved helping women prisoners find a new life through arts and crafts. Their work is exhibited at a Dakar gallery in.

Despite an already busy life, Gningue is starting a new project called Jeader. She described it as an “association helping entrepreneurs to start thinking and envisioning their future, not only leaning on employment opportunity but really creating the path to their own personal development.”

She regularly meets with a group of associates to brainstorm how to make Jeader successful saying “the idea is to really help in mentoring younger people what we call the next generation of leaders so that we are really helping have more YALIans, why not? Even if they didn’t have the chance to get there and meet President Obama, they might have the same chance as I got with my other fellows.”

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    Mariama Diallo

    Mariama Diallo is a senior reporter covering national and world affairs for Voice of America in multiple languages. She was recently the VOA acting bureau chief for the agency's West Africa office.