Swaady Martin-Leke, an Ivorian entrepreneur, prides herself as a custodian of Africa’s rich culture and history. And she preserves it with style. After an eventful, high-flying 11-year career at GE, where she held leadership positions in several divisions across the world (including acting as the Director for Sub-Saharan Africa of GE Transportation and acting-CEO for GE South Africa Technologies), she decided to follow her passion for African culture & heritage and founded YSWARA, a growing home-grown African global luxury brand.
Yswara is a gourmet brand creating exceptional products from Africa’s agricultural wealth. Their star product is African artisan tea created using ingredients and narratives from the continent.
Passionately African, Yswara has the world’s largest selection of fine and herbal teas from the continent, offering 27 varieties of premium loose-leaf African teas, including Othodox teas, as well as blended teas and infusions. Yswara also sells timeless tea ware, tea-related accessories and unique soy-wax candles.
I Am Driven By | I am driven by love and passion. I am passionate about Africa and a desire to share a story of Africa that illuminates our continent’s innate beauty and rich heritage. Yswara communicates that story, it shifts the perception of Africa and celebrates its history, people and potential. I am inspired by the spirit of Ubuntu – “I am because we are”
My Highlights | I am grateful to be blessed with a full and happy life. I don’t strive for specific achievements. I am motivated and uplifted by possibility and potential.
The Difference Between Good And Great | Passion is key. During my career at GE, a CEO insisted that passion for what you do is a critical element of success – it was some of the best advice that I have ever received. Hard work and commitment are also necessary, but you need to enjoy what you do too. It has to be fun! And for that you need a certain detachment.
The Characteristics Of Success | I am centered by my faith. It has allowed me to take risks, afforded me a fearlessness. I don’t fear failure or hold on to negative experiences or grudges and I am an optimist.
Principles I Live By | Intergrity, empathy and forgiveness. I try to live these values in all aspects of my life.
Critical Skills I Develop | I try to apply the same passion, commitment and hard work to the things that I don’t like to do. I also stay open to advice and mentoring. Limitations are human and humbling and often the best results are yielded from working in a team. I love the fact that I can rely on other talented people to support me in my weaknesses and that I can support them with my strengths
How I Use My Mind | I am really disciplined when it comes to work, hard work comes naturally to me because I am so passionate about what I do. Africa has always captured my imagination, I am inspired by the creativity, craftsmanship, history and traditions of the continent. I also work hard to maintain balance in my life.
Performing At My Peak | We are human, and cannot always perform at optimal levels. While balance keeps me energized, I work best as part of a team. Effective teams are made up of individual strengths and are greater than the sum of their parts.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | My interests are diverse; I read broadly and stay connected to everything from politics to trends in all media. I am inspired by creatives – artists and designers in Africa and globally – there is so much talent. I still love to read magazines and subscribe to several.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | Yswara carries a message of Africa, our story illuminates our continent’s innate beauty and rich heritage. My team and I want to grow the business and share our stories with the world, to entrench our history and encourage an understanding of Africa that acknowledges its exceptional creativity and craftsmanship. At the heart of the project is the desire to keep the value-add in Africa
The Meaning Of Life | To love more, every day
Advice On Building Wealth | Wealth is about much more than acquisition, I do not believe that one can grow rich through money and material things. Wealth is much more purposeful.
I Am Inspired By | I am inspired by people and human potential. The selfless and extraordinary contributions of Mother Theresa and Gandhi continue to motivate me.