Get Angry

Get Angry: Magatte Wade

Senegalese-born entrepreneur Magatte Wade is angry that so many people are trapped in poverty. And she’s using her outrage to help fix the problem.

Born in a small fishing village south of Dakar, young Wade was shocked and furious when she moved to Europe as a child and saw the stark contrast between the quality of life in her new home and that of Senegal. 

There was no reason, she thought, that one country should experience so much wealth while another suffered from extreme poverty. From that moment on, she promised to dedicate her life and contribute everything she had to the cause of eradicating poverty. 

When many of us think of alleviating poverty, we automatically think of the various charities we can donate to, each promising to offer aid to those in need. But experience has taught Wade that these solutions are shallow and temporary. 

While certainly well-intentioned, charities like TOMs shoes—which gives free shoes to African school children—only cures the symptoms of poverty. But they do nothing to strike at the root of the problem. Sometimes, these charities even worsen the situation. 

By sending shoes to children in Africa, TOMS is taking business away from local shoemakers, putting them out of business. This forces people to rely more on charities and less on their own ability to provide for themselves, and this only perpetuates the cycle of poverty. 

This infuriated Wade, which fueled her passion to find a better solution. 

She came to realize that the only way to alleviate poverty was through entrepreneurship. She decided to start her own business in Senegal—which proved to be no easy feat. 

Excessive regulations make it extremely difficult for Senegalese people to be entrepreneurial. “It’s madness,” Wade says of the red tape she encountered during the process.  

With entrepreneurship stifled, Senegal has a serious problem with job creation. In the absence of good jobs, many Senegalese people are left with few options aside from taking risky jobs as fishermen in dangerous waters, from which many never return.  

As Wade once fiercely told a packed room:

I grew up with stories of people dying at sea. Why? Because they had to leave their country because there are not enough jobs, and why are there not enough jobs? Because the business climate sucks.

Wade was not going to let this grim reality stop her from accomplishing her life’s mission. 

In spite of the obstacles that stood in her way, Wade founded Skin is Skin, a high-end line of skincare products made with only the highest quality, organic ingredients and manufactured in her hometown Mekhe, Senegal. 

By keeping manufacturing local, Wade has created jobs and thus, prosperity for those who once felt destined to live an impoverished life. But she has had to pay a high price to do so. To import the ingredients for her products, Wade must jump through regulatory hoops and pay a 45 percent tariff, which has only exacerbated her anger.

But by showing firsthand what is possible through entrepreneurship, Wade has sparked a necessary conversation that is helping to change the policies that are harming the people of Africa. 

When you hear Wade speak, you cannot help but be moved by the emotion in her voice—it might even frighten you. Her incomparable passion is born out of deep resentment with the way things are and her unwillingness to sit idly by while too many people stayed trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.

As she said, “When you talk from your guts, people listen to you, there is no other choice.”