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12 Feb

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They move for Senegal

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Ils font bouger

Magatte Wade: the young Senegalese woman who introduced the taste of hibiscus to America.

“When I went to Senegal, I was disheartened to see that young people had turned away from hibiscus. They just wanted to drink American sodas. Growing hibiscus leaves is embedded in the culture and lifestyle of Senegalese villages. The cultivation of these crops can fight against rural exodus. “MW

Magatte Wade was born in Senegal and educated in France and Germany.  She is fluent in French, English and German in addition to her native language Wolof. She launched her career as an entrepreneur in the bay of San Francisco where she was co-founder of the company Adina World Beverages. In her home kitchen, she developed recipes for organic beverages from the plants of Senegal, including Roselle (hibiscus leaves).

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

13 Dec

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Learn from the master Steve Jobs to achieve success in Senegal!

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Learnings from the master

Famara will not get a lot of sleep tonight! He has just learned that his young company has been selected to participate in an international competition of innovative entrepreneurship. If he were to win this award, in addition to the recognition of his peers, he has an incredible opportunity to launch his business into the global arena.

He has much to be proud of being the first Senegalese to compete for such an award. But the path to reach here was complicated and fraught with pitfalls from the time that he was in primary school until he completed his Masters in Business in Oxford, UK.

Famara, as a young entrepreneur, I invite you to take a leaf out of the book of one of the greatest leaders and success stories of the 21st century – Steve Jobs.

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

05 Dec

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Mobile Senegal: Senegalese choosing mobiles over basic needs?

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Villager Mobile

During a recent visit home to Senegal, I was amused and delighted at the proliferation of mobile use all over the country: kiosks competing hard against each other on behalf of the telco giants, the reckless recharge hawkers snaking their way through the heart of the traffic to sell their cards, the giant billboards with endorsement from the latest Senegalese wrestling champion with his bulging biceps.

Looking around a packed bus, half of the occupants were glued to their mobile phones and even the driver had his eyes on the keypad while driving “safely” to our fatal (sorry, final!) destination. Through the window I could see a girl in a high-school uniform send a text message while hurrying to not miss her next class, a businessman in traditional boubou sitting on the back of a motorbike shouting instructions to some poor colleague down the phone!

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

11 Nov

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Crowdfunding for the Senegalese Diaspora

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Crowdfunding for the Diaspora

Africa is the last place in the world that comes to mind when we think of innovative ways of raising capital. And yet, you just have to look at the tontine system to realize that Africans know how to gather and co-finance projects – especially when supporting causes for a member of the community. BCP women and groups are not catered for by banks or formal institutions so the tontine is used at all levels of African society as the means best suited to raise funds. Primarily used for social needs in Senegal, the tontine takes a much more critical role in Cameroon, for example enabling small businesses to raise financing from the community for a large project.

No further proof is needed that the Tontines are well organized, with Africans taking care of their own needs. All that is missing is the right technology, modernity and applications to scale the concept.

In my previous post, I wondered if the money we send home can not also be used to finance projects. After all, who does not dream of having a small business or extra income at home while supporting their family?

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

11 Nov

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Willstream wins SXSW 2013 Interactive Scholarship!

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South by South West Interactive 2013

Willstream is delighted to announce that it has won the SXSW Interactive 2013 Scholarship Program! The programme recognises individuals from all sectors and from anywhere in the world who are using new media to push the boundaries of tackling community problems.

SPOTLIGHTING COMMUNITY TECHNOLOGY VISIONARIES

Non profit leaders, grassroots organisers, individual citizens, and civic-minded entrepreneurs were all eligible for the the award.  The whole basis of the scholarship is recognising community leaders who are helping people through technology. At SXSW Interactive, the leaders of the next wave of movers and shakers in the tech industry are sought.

Willstream has been invited to attend SXSW 2013 and will join the world’s leading tech luminaries at the world’s no. 1 technology conference.

The announcement of the scholarship award can be found here.

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

10 Nov

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Willstream makes the final 6 for JumpStart 2012

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Jumpstart 2012 Ireland

Willstream is excited to announce that it has made the shortlist for this year’s JumpStart 2012 competition hosted by the ITB. An annual entrepreneurial competition Jump Start 2012 is open to entrepreneurs who would like to base their business in an innovative and supportive environment.  Supported by one of the Ireland’s best known and liked entrepreneurs and Dragon Bobby Kerr, this competition gives Irish entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to win a very real JUMP START to their business.

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

31 Oct

3 Comments

Can the Senegalese Diaspora invest at home without risk?

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“Picca nga sa kaw, xel ma ngi si suuf” i.e. The bird is on the branch but his attention is focused on the ground”

This Wolof proverb reflects a sentiment shared by all Senegalese migrants. We are all at one time or another driven by a deep desire to return home. But once the homesickness passes, we remember the circumstances that led us to leave the country in the first place. The option of a final return is a rather difficult option to consider for almost all migrants, however many of us try to create a parallel activity generating income in our home country. This is generally less about earning money for us but more about finding ways to directly support our families at home or to create an employment opportunity for a friend who is out of work. For others it is also about testing the waters to see which areas it would be wise to invest in, in the case we do return home. Some were brave enough to ‘cross the Rubicon’ and invest but have varying experiences ranging from very successful to disappointing.

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

30 Oct

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Willstream. Evolution of the transfer of money to Africa?

by · 1,406 views

Willstream Mamadou Sow

Guest post…

In 2011 Senegalese migrants sent nearly €1.2 Billion home. This in itself represents all of the imports sent to Senegal that year. And remember, this only accounts for the funds transferred over formal channels!

For three years N’gor regularly sent money to his Uncle to build his house outside of Dakar. After spending years working away in France he returned home to finally enjoy his villa. Unfortunately he returned home to find there was no house! The money he sent was used instead to pay for his Uncle’s personal financial problems.

This would have never happened had N’gor had Willstream to manage the funds he sent home.

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs

25 Oct

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Willstream Prepaid for Senegal

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Hi everyone! Here’s what’s new in the Willstream world…

Starting this week, Willstream users will carry a balance in their account- which they can use to purchase gift cards for any business, any time in Senegal! How do you top-up your balance? Well, it’s simple…

  1. Earn Bonuses By Inviting Friends – For every invite you send, you’ll earn 2500 CFA when they sign up to Willstream!
  2. Prepay into your Balanceyour purchases become smoother and faster!
  3. Earn Bonuses by Prepaying - depending on how much you top-up, you get a bonus!

Prepaid Senegal

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Filed Under: Inside Willstream

22 Oct

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Dublin Web Summit 2012 – Ireland shows off its wares to the Tech World.

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Dublin Web Summit

What a week! Now that the dust has settled, the competitions are over, the Guinness factory is taking a rest and all the startups, journalists, corporate reps and robots have flown home we thought we’d offer a slice of Willstream’s experience at the 2012 Dublin Web Summit.

Given the opportunity to exhibit and present at the event we grabbed it with both hands – and boy we sure are glad that we did!  Meeting new customers, partners, brilliant entrepreneurs and journalists was fantastic.

The summit attracted almost every top tech company in the world along with some of the best and brightest in the start-up space. All ages, no dress code and a sense of openness, fun and genuine curiosity. The fact that there were 12 year old kids from the coder-dojos walking around talking to techies, founders and the occasional (mostly confused) Business Development Expert two or three times their age about coding, platforms and applications says it all. James Whelton and Bill Liao take a bow.

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Filed Under: Willstream Labs