Madame Magalie is a jovial 34-year-old woman from the community of Lepi in the town of Ouanaminthe. She has served as the president on her community’s well management committee for two years. Her leadership capacities have not only been made evident in service to her community but also as an entrepreneur.
From 2015 – 2018, she worked for an employer selling clothes on the street. She used to get up early in the morning to gather water and then go to work putting in nearly 80 hours each week to do both. Despite the dedication to her job and long hours, she was barely scraping by on her meager wages and was not feeling fulfilled.
To decompress after a long work week, on Saturdays she would bake *cassava, flavored with basil, pistachio and raspberries for her family and friends. Her recipes are mainly her own creation. She experimented with different flavors and ingredients, and savored every moment of discovery. This task was so energizing for her that she admitted, “I could make 20 sheets in a day!”
One day, her best friend made a statement that triggered everything. “Are you finished fooling around? Everyone likes your cassava. You should be selling it!”
Never having seen herself as a business owner, this idea was both compelling and terrifying for Madame Magalie. But once it was sparked, she couldn’t let it go!
She began by creating samples and bringing them to local shops. Her famous sweet pistachio quickly became her trademark. The craze was immediate! “People were begging for more” she beamed! “My greatest pleasure,” she says, “is to see people’s reactions when they take their first bite. When they taste the sweet cassava, the masks fall immediately. Their wrinkles disappear instantly and their inner-child comes out!“
One might think this brilliant entrepreneur might be tempted to eat her own profits, but she admits, “I never had a sweet tooth. What I enjoy most is making my customers happy.”
Her business has become so successful that at times she has had to pinch herself to make sure that she wasn’t dreaming! She can hardly believe that the secret ingredient to a more fulfilling career was literally right under her nose! But she is not done innovating! She is currently working on developing new products to sell. In the coming months, the confectioner will be busy developing her distribution network and imagining new packaging.
“What’s important to me,” she says, “is to cultivate the happiness and balance I’ve finally found.” The money she earns is not a lot, but it comes in at a steady pace and provides enough to live.
Entrepreneurs need to be very dedicated and tenacious to be successful. Thanks to her community’s decision to come together and manage a well that is closer to home, Madame Magalie, and others in her community, are able to invest more time in activities that will help improve conditions for themselves and their children.
A few years ago, life was very draining for Madame Magalie, but now she feels fulfilled and is able to spread that joy to others in the commune of Ouanaminthe through her cooking!
*Cassava is a nutty flavored root vegetable. It shares many similarities with yams.