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GhanaMade: Meet the Women Working to Amplify Ghanaian Culture

NEWS PEOPLE

We may be biased, but the people we work with are pretty exceptional. We’re always excited to celebrate milestones and accomplishments, and today we’re particularly thrilled to share that an integral member of the bareMinerals Global Creative Team, Gloria Mensah, has been named a Woman of Yaa Asantewaa by GhanaMade, a digital media company that works to amplify Ghanaian culture. Realizing that each of the 50 honored women of the Ghanaian diaspora is as extraordinary and unique as Gloria, we spoke to a number of them about the significance of this honor and how their Ghanaian roots have impacted their identities and aspirations.

GhanaMade was founded in 2016 by Freddy Coleman, a first-generation Ghanaian-American. “I was always fond of my culture through my upbringing,” he says. “However, it was not until I was older that I realized how much it has impacted myself and others.” This realization drove the founding of GhanaMade, and this year the group selected its inaugural cohort of extraordinary women from the diaspora. “We named the award series after Yaa Asantewaa because she is famously known for her bravery leading the … defense of her people during pre-colonial times,” Freddy explains. “She was a warrior queen who attributed that we believe embody what Ghanaian women are: brave, daring, innovative and ready-to-go.” We offer our wholehearted congratulations to all of the honorees, and invite you to meet a few of them below.

Gloria Mensah

bareMinerals project manager, and digital marketer based in New York

Tell us what this recognition means to you, as well as your community.

It is truly an honor. My ultimate goal in life is to represent my home country, influence young African women and men and inform the world of the endless talents and brilliance of Africa. I feel this recognition has made my goals tangible and has encouraged me to continue rewriting the narrative of Africa and her value. Africa is a continent of unfathomable talent and undeniable vision.

How does your connection to Ghana influence your work and who you are?

Ghana symbolizes a sense of belonging. It is comforting to know where I come from and to fully immerse myself within this beautiful culture. My Ghanaian roots have greatly shaped my work ethic, character and creative lens. My diligence stems from my Ghanaian upbringing. My humility and compassion stems from my Ghanaian upbringing. My love for structured fashion pieces and highlife music stems from my Ghanaian upbringing.

Ghana also symbolizes a sense of responsibility. Since business school, I have done marketing and branding for amazing African brands and creatives. I think it is my responsibility to help those within the African community. Using my God-given gifts to support and uplift my people is a duty I will always strive to fulfill.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far? What is one goal you are working towards for the future?

Currently, my greatest accomplishment is identifying how I can truly support the African community. Over a year ago, I decided to collaborate with a non-profit based in Uganda, Artisan Global, that works with artisans to develop creative industries. I wanted to shine a light on the overwhelming talent and creativity in Africa, specifically among the artisan community. We are currently working on an accessories line that consists of handcrafted handbags made solely from Ugandan resources and by artisans. I am working towards launching the line next year and striving to develop sustainable employment for the artisans I work with. My ultimate goal is to globally highlight the craftsmanship of artisans across Africa and provide long-lasting economic opportunities through job creation and fair pay.

What’s one thing everyone should know about Ghana?

Ghana is a country of endless opportunity, beauty, vigor and culture. Narrowing Ghana’s magnitude is quite difficult! One thing that rings true is Ghana’s relentlessness. We are not a people who give up. We press forward in power and in confidence. We believe in our capabilities and are eager to achieve our goals. My parents symbolize that relentlessness wholeheartedly. Their persistence has given me so many opportunities and has created opportunities for those in Ghana. They were the first to show me what being Ghanaian truly means. I just want to exude that same tenacity and compassion for generations to come.

Bridget Boakye

Data scientist, writer, activist and entrepreneur based in Ghana

Tell us what this recognition means to you, as well as your community.
This recognition means an opportunity to continue to inspire. My community generally sees the effort I put into my work. Being recognized as one of the 50 Women of Yaa Asantewaa means a celebration of this effort. This empowers others, that their efforts will also be recognized and rewarded. It’s easy to want to give up with some of the difficult questions we all seek to tackle, and recognition is always a great acknowledgment to keep going!

How does your connection to Ghana influence your work?
My connection to Ghana powers my work with deep purpose. I know that the work I do is not just for me. I come from a great people and a great history and I feel empowered and obligated to contribute my quota towards continuing this narrative.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far? What is one goal you are working towards for the future?
My greatest accomplishment thus far has been moving to Ghana without a robust network, much financial capital or insight, and being able to build an incredible network and make an impact.
The one goal I am currently working towards is making innovative contributions in the data science space by combining data with writing, business acumen and creative ideas to change narratives and improve the lives of Black people around the world.

Nana Addison

Entrepreneur and brand activation strategist based in Germany

What’s one thing everyone should know about Ghana?

Ghana is a country that holds deep wisdom and where womxn have always been leaders, which makes me very proud to be Ghanaian.

How does your connection to Ghana influence who you are?

Being a Ghanaian womxn living in Germany, which is predominately white, made me very proactive in learning and preserving the wealth of the traditions in my culture, but also eager to implement them in my local German context. I was born in the same place as Yaa Asantewaa; I really think I have her spirit with me whenever I have to speak up and stand up in business, or in life in general. Womxn leading with conviction, wisdom, strength, grace and pride is so counterintuitive in Germany, yet that is what I learned from my Ghanaian history and heritage and I make it a point to live and advocate for that … I come from a lineage that is so rich in culture, intellect and innovation, which has surely added to my confidence in using my voice to advocate for free cultural expression, diversity and inclusion.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far?

I am proud that I bootstrapped my company CURL in Summer 2019 with 300€ and managed to scale it to 50,000€ in revenue within 6 months. This has inspired many Black womxn and men to consider starting their own businesses and that makes me really proud, because I believe that there is a lot of untapped entrepreneur potential in the Black community in Germany.

Diana Wilson

Founder & CEO, Yielding Accomplished African Women and Google marketing strategist based in San Francisco

Tell us what this recognition means to you, as well as your community.

To be recognized by GhanaMade and to receive consistent support from this organization ensures me that my community sees me. Currently, we live in a world where Black women, especially dark skin Black women are hyper-visible (sexualized constantly) yet invisible (lack of representation and celebration). This award allowed for women like me to be seen by thousands! I gravely appreciate receiving this award, but I am ecstatic about what this award is going to do for young girls who look like me, for Black women entrepreneurs, for Black women in college, for Black women who need hope, for the future generations that will one day see this history.

What is one goal you are working towards for the future?

I am working on living from identity and not for identity. Many times, we look towards what we do, our accomplishments, our status, our reputation, our knowledge/talents/skills and our relationships, or lack thereof, to provide us with an identity. However, these aspects of our life will never suffice in giving us identity. Your identity and power are already within you and are not fleeting. I am working to continuously abide by this truth.

How does your connection to Ghana influence your work?

My connection to Ghana informs all that I do on a daily basis. In relation to Yielding Accomplished African Women, it connects to every facet of the foundation and edification of this organization. My experiences, which serve as the backbone of our programs, were highly influenced by the three most important women in my life (grandmother, mother, sister) who are all Ghanaian … Additionally, Ghana’s historical triumphs and pitfalls empower me to seek a greater future for my homeland and the entire continent. Revolutionary leaders and authors like Kwame Nkrumah,Kofi Annan and Ama Ata Adoo continue to inspire me to simultaneously reimagine our current reality and deploy strategic actions to advance our world.

Learn more about GhanaMade and meet all 50 Women of Yaa Asantewaa here.