Guinean former fashion model Tiguidanke Camara left behind stylish robes and catwalks to show herself into west Africa's first girl mine proprietor
Abandoning stylish robes and catwalks to stomp within the mud in heavy work boots, Guinean former fashion model Tiguidanke Camara has made herself west Africa's first girl mine proprietor.
Within the small forest village of Guingouine, within the west of Ivory Coast, Camara runs a workforce of 10 geologists and labourers who're probing the soil for gold deposits.
She readily wades into a mucky pond to assist take laboratory samples.
"After I was a model, I confirmed off for the jewellers. They've licences in Africa to offer their valuable stones," says Camara amid a swarm of gnats, nonetheless youthful and trim in her 40s.
She doesn't recall any macho male resistance to her rise in an business nearly devoid of girls, although bemused males have been prompted occasionally to ask whose assistant she may be.
"When it acquired an excessive amount of at some point, I needed to produce my CEO's ID badge!" she protests mildly.
Camara says that modelling for jewelry companies "roused my curiosity. I began to ask myself questions. What if African males or girls took cost of enterprise within the mining sector?"
"I am the reply to that query," declares the entrepreneur, who has been ranked by France's weekly Jeune Afrique among the many 50 most influential businesswomen of Francophone Africa.
Impressed to hitch forces, she and a lot of different girls final yr created an affiliation of Girls within the Mining Community of Ivory Coast (Femici by its French acronym), whereas Camara can also be seen for example to village women.
- 'We lack every thing' -
Camara needed to dig deep into financial savings -- earned on runways for giant worldwide fashion labels and jewelry manufacturers and in selling the wares of luxurious design homes -- to launch her Tigui Mining Group in 2010 and purchase two licences to prospect for gold in her homeland.
Then final yr she adopted up with a mining concession to search for gold in Ivory Coast, which she has turned into "my base in west Africa".
Modelling for jewelry companies "roused my curiosity," Camara, the proprietor of TMG Tigui Mining Firm, says. "I began to ask myself questions. What if African males or girls took cost of enterprise within the mining sector?"
"I am the proprietor of a mining firm that belongs to me 100 p.c," says Tigui's founder, stressing that she is a continental rarity, "aside from South Africa, the place there are different girls bosses, however largely in partnerships."
In Guingouine, inhabitants have began to dream of the large modifications that might profit the village if the positioning proves to be wealthy in gold and a mine is opened.
"Guingouine means happiness (within the native Yacouba language), however we lack every thing," says village chief Alphonse Doh, clad in his conventional blue and white gown.
"The varsity of six courses is a shed with out electrical energy. Girls in labour should be taken in wheelbarrows 10 kilometres (six miles) to the closest well being centre," Doh explains.
For the chief, opening a mine might remodel the lives of 1000's of individuals. Other than the potential financial good points, he additionally hopes that Tiguidanke Camara could function a profitable function model in a area the place greater than 80 p.c of ladies are illiterate.
Within the meantime, the "mining woman" has inspired the ladies of the village to type a cooperative, offering them with agricultural tools and two photo voltaic panels.
"We're more than happy with this cooperation," says Elise Kpan, who runs the Girls of Guingouine affiliation. The cooperative has enabled villagers "to position their farming produce available on the market simply and to earn a living".
- 'Future development sector' -
The mining sector, dominated by the manufacturing of manganese (two mines) and gold (5 mines) has been rising for a decade in Ivory Coast.
Present exercise accounts for 5 p.c of the gross home product of the nation, which additionally has diamonds, iron, nickel, bauxite and copper.
Girls are poorly represented in Ivorian mining, the place they account for simply 112 of some 6,000 jobs straight concerned within the sector and about 400 of the 30,000 related secondary jobs
Girls are poorly represented in Ivorian mining, the place they account for simply 112 of some 6,000 jobs straight concerned within the sector and about 400 of the 30,000 related secondary jobs.
Involved girls have bonded to enhance this state of affairs. The newly launched Femici affiliation swimming pools the sources of girls professionals as numerous as geologists, drivers of heavy industrial autos, legal professionals and environmental specialists.
"Mining exercise is a future development sector that can entice many ladies," says Christine Logbo-Kossi, director of the Skilled Group of Mines in Ivory Coast, the one employers' organisation within the business, based in 2008.
"If I flourish within the mining sector, it is as a result of I've benefitted from the welcome that males gave me," Camara says.
Requested what high quality most helps girls achieve enterprise, she is fast to say: "Ardour."