How One Black Entrepreneur ‘Powers’ Obama’s Africa Strategy

Jessica Matthews, co-founder and CEO of Uncharted Play Inc.

Jessica Matthews, co-founder and CEO of Uncharted Play Inc.

President Obama just ended his whirlwind multi-country tour of Africa. Traveling to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania over six days, his first major trip to the continent included moments both powerful and poignant: The First Family’s tour of the famous slave trade memorial, Maison Des Esclaves (House of Slaves) at Goree Island where millions of enslaved Africans passed through the “Door of No Return”; a trip to Robben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of incarceration for defiance of apartheid; and Obama’s visit to comfort the Mandela family as the revered leader fought for his life in a Pretoria hospital. The historic meeting between the first black president of the United States, the son of a Kenyan, and the first black president of South Africa would not take place though.
As expected, Obama’s trip was chock full of meetings with dignitaries and business leaders as well as speeches designed to deepen US-Africa relations. But his visit, along with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, to the Ubungo Power Plant holds special relevance to entrepreneurs. It was at that facility — a public-private partnership between the Tanzanian government and General Electric Africa — that Obama witnessed a demonstration of the Soccket ball, a soccer ball that harnesses the kinetic energy generated during play to provide a source of renewable, off-grid power. In fact, a single bulb LED lamp can be plugged into the ball to provide hours of light. This revolutionary portable generator was invented by 25-year-old Jessica Matthews…

For the rest of this interesting piece, go to Black Enterprise


Dark Girls: A Reflection


dark girls

Last Sunday, the Oprah Winfrey Network premiered the long anticipated documentary entitled “Dark Girls,” a film which opens up about deep seeded biases and attitudes toward skin color in communities of people of color throughout the world, especially among the black community.  According to the directors, “the documentary explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within varies cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe.”

The documentary was powerful to say the least as it left a mark of sadness on my soul for both the world’s inability to see our own beauty as well as our own. The message that particularly resonated with me  is the dire need to uplift women of color. We need to know that we are all beautiful regardless of our varying amounts of melanin. Our beauty as women of color transcends Western standards and is so marvelous because of its uniqueness. We, as women must work toward building our pride and self-esteem and the self-esteems of all the young women around us because people with a strong sense of cultural pride are more likely to create positive change and success in their lives. Ladies, if you have not seen this amazing documentary I encourage you all to watch.

“We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”

-Langston Hughes: “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”

Visit the official “Dark Girls” website:

Photo Credit: Official Dark Girls Movie

Educate A Woman, Educate A Generation

Bah DialloVENTURES AFRICA – Someone once wrote, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation” and these words couldn’t be more true in Africa. Globally, it is estimated that seventy five million children do not have access to education, of which fifty million are girls. Of the seventy five million, nearly half of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. If indeed “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, Africa still has a long way to go. However, the continent is not without great proponents of education, especially for the girl child and other disadvantaged groups. Honourable Aicha Bah Diallo, Guinean education specialist and champion for African girls’ and women’s education, is renowned for her work in promoting education in her home country and across Africa.

Read the rest of her inspirational story here: Ventures Africa


5 TED Talks on Women and Leadership

Powerful women have been in the news a lot recently, helping companies large and small reach their full potential, making tough decisions, and refusing to let gender bias get in the way of their goals. For women who are just beginning their careers, it helps to see female leaders paving the path and breaking through the “glass ceiling” once and for all. Here are five TED Talks from women who are true examples of what can be accomplished with a bit of tenacity and ability.

Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

Amy Jo Martin: Innovate Your Life

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: Women entrepreneurs, example not exception

Arianna Huffington: How to succeed? Get more sleep.

Susan Cain: The power of introverts


Courtesy of Payscale

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? […] Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. […] It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson