Sunu Startup: Creating a Space for African Women Entrepreneurs

Sylvana Lewin | Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

“I think that female entrepreneurship is important for many reasons. Women are natural entrepreneurs, and it is easy for them to give life to the best entrepreneurial ideas. They are also enduring and can thus face the challenges brought by entrepreneurship.” – Charlette N’Guessan, the first female Ivorian EIT at MEST


According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of female entrepreneurship. 25.9% of the female adult population in the region are engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity. In Senegal that number spikes to 36.8%.


Organizations like MEST alum STEMBees are working to close the gender gap in STEM, and more and more powerful women are emerging as important industry players. Bozoma Saint John left Ghana as a teenager for the US with her family. Years later she is working as Uber’s Chief Brand Officer. Marin Oluwole has been with Facebook for more than seven years, currently serving as Head of Luxury at Facebook and instagram. The African woman entrepreneur is on the rise.


Recently, at the 2019 World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, world leaders and business titans discussed global gender issues. Alibaba founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma declared, “If you want your company to be successful; if you want your company to operate with wisdom, with care, then women are the best.”


Studies of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) show that the development of female entrepreneurship has a positive and significant impact on the reduction of household poverty. Indeed, in sub-Saharan Africa, women entrepreneurs represent 27% of society.


How can we help women empower themselves? How can we encourage female entrepreneurship? How can we make women’s contribution to the economy effective?


These are questions that many organizations are currently trying to answer, including MEST partner, Sunu Startup.


Sunu Startup was founded by Azimath Adjassa, a Beninese women whose vision is to help make the initiatives driven by African women more sustainable. Ms. Adjasa believes that supporting sustainable female entrepreneurship is an important step towards economic participation and emancipation.

Sunu Startup is a platform open to all African women entrepreneurs. The name Sunu comes from the Wolof word for “our,” translating to ‘our startup’. The organization is active in West Africa, providing informative and collaborative programs like Sunu Council, a platform on Twitter which allows women to benefit from advice and companionship as they create their companies, and Sunu Chat, which aims to inspire and motivate through the experience sharing by influential African women entrepreneurs.


The team also offers awards like Most Innovative Sunu Startup (MISS) and Sunu Startup of the Month. MISS is a competition for projects open to all women and comes down to a public vote. Winners of Sunu Startup of the Month are showcased on the Actunet show, Voxafrica. All of these programs aim to engage women in their community.


Sunu Startup has been a partner of MEST since 2017 and supported us in the recruitment of our first Ivorian woman entrepreneur, Charlette N’Guessan, for the 2017-2018 cohort. Charlette believes organizations like Sunu Startup are critical for female entrepreneurship. She explains,


“Organizations like Sunu Startup are important because the current environment doesn’t facilitate female entrepreneurship. Many women have this hesitation and fear of getting started. Through organizations like Sunu Startup, it’s easier to understand women’s difficulties, support them, and accompany them on their entrepreneurial journeys.”


We spoke to the founder of Sunu Startup Azimath Adjassa to learn more about this space.

What would you like to see from governments?

The Ivorian government, like most West African governments, needs to work seriously to find the best way to support young entrepreneurs. It’s not all about finance. It’s about creating a public politic to arrange the entrepreneurial field in their countries.


What are your thoughts on MEST? Why did you decide to partner with us?

MEST is doing interesting things to support youth entrepreneurship in Africa. Through partnering with MEST, our goal is to see more African women featured in the New York Times 100 list.


Where do you see this partnership moving in the future?

We expect MEST in Benin Republic this year to recruit talented Beninese women in tech and give them necessary support to grow. Sunu startup will be glad to support on this.


Organizations like Sunu Startup are helping pave the way for a female future. If you would like to follow in Charlette’s footsteps and join the next MEST cohort, apply here today!

Follow the sunu startup :

Twitter: @SunuStartup

Facebook: SunuStartup