For the last three years, some of Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs have traveled to Atlanta. During this year's trip, fellows of the Young Africa Leadership Initiative, an initiative created by President Obama, got an inside look at what The
Oluwaseun Sangoleye’s business card is a little less formal than most. On the left, “Baby Grubz” is spelled out in a rainbow of colors. Special chefs to our adorable little customers. On the right is her name, along with her official title: Mom-in-Chief.
“I started when I had my son,” Sangoleye said. “Then I discovered there was little to no information about baby food.”
When Sangoleye began looking for local organic foods in Nigeria for her son, she was surprised to find almost nothing. All foods for infants were imported, so she began looking for ways to use local staples to create healthy food options. Sangoleye wanted to make a change for her son, and soon he wasn’t the only one at his day care eating her lunches. The other mothers wanted them for their children, too. Now she’s full time at her company, Baby Grubz, the local, organic choice for baby food in Nigeria. Baby Grubz now has 24 registered distributors who deliver to 13 retailers in 14 states.
Sangoleye was one of dozens of young African entrepreneurs visiting
At an afternoon event at
Fellows sipped from personalized
For Helen Smith Price, president of The
“You can challenge the brand to be the best it can be, and still be enthusiastic about the business and what it means to the sustainability of communities.” Price said. “And the truth is, that is actually better.”
Many fellows gained a deeper understanding of the company’s work in Africa, particularly with regard to the company’s use of its business model to build sustainable solutions for problems like water scarcity.
Aside from being a wealth of opportunity, the YALI fellowship is, for some, a respite from the stresses of professional life. Marieme Diop, who works for the Senegalese government, needs to meet high demands in her career. For Diop, the sacrifice is worth it. She says she wants to have the highest impact in Africa.
Many of the fellows are driven by motivations other than profitability.
“They were just as engaged in discussions about our philanthropy as they were in the business,” Price said. “It is exciting to meet these dynamic young entrepreneurs, who you just know will be the next generation of African business leaders and make a difference in their communities.”