Meet GES+ Delegate: Mariama Kabia
Twitter Handle: @MemunatuMag
Country of Origin: USA
Organization Name: Memunatu Magazine, Inc.
Organization Website: www.memunatumagazine.com
Memunatu promotes literacy, leadership, and empowerment for teenage girls (10–17 years old) in West Africa. We produce a unique, community-driven magazine along with a teacher’s guide that are distributed through schools quarterly. Our focus is content for girls’ everyday lives — from trends, tips for school, and features of positive role models. With mobile sms and interactive activities, we engage girls and their communities.
What inspired you to start this organization?
One evening, as an undergraduate student at UPenn, I walked down Locust Walk to a presentation at the alumni house. There, a student spoke about her summer with Native American artists in Alaska and experience building a website to help them showcase and sell their creations. As she described the collaboration, and resulting impact, I began to think of what I could do to help a community I cared about. The community that first came to mind was one in my parents’ home country of Sierra Leone. Growing up in the US, I had seen from afar how war, poverty, and systemic challenges prevent girls, whom I considered part of my extending community, from having a voice. Though I didn’t know exactly how I could help, I knew that I wanted to use my education and vantage point for positive impact. That night, I left the presentation to talk with my twin sister, Fatmata at our dormitory. We started talking about what would become Memunatu.
What is the next big step you hope to help your organization reach?
Our next big step is fundraising! We are excited about the interest we have received to bring Memunatu to schools in West Africa, the US, and beyond. Capital will help us get there.
What has been your biggest obstacle as an entrepreneur?
My biggest obstacle is wanting to do everything at once. We are starting a new market in the region, so there is a potential to do A LOT. The challenge is in selecting which short-term innovations and initiatives we undertake to have the impact we want to have in the long-term
What advice would you give other emerging entrepreneurs?
Determine your company culture from the beginning. This is especially true for social entrepreneurs where integrity to the social mission is key. What values does your startup live by? What are your negotiables and non-negotiables? We at Memunatu ask these questions whenever we bring on new team members or make critical decisions. These could also come in handy when facing dilemmas between social impact and profit.