Magatte Wade of Tiossano- Portriats Session

Medicinal secrets of the ancient Sufi healers

Magatte Wade of Tiossano- Portriats Session

Magatte Wade of Tiossano- Portriats Session

By Faisal Masood and Sabiha Ansari

Born in Senegal and raised in France, Magatte Wade is currently Founder and CEO of her second company, Tiossan, “the only US brand that is inspired by medicinal secrets of the ancient Sufi healers,” Magatte, who identifies as a Sufi Muslim, proudly states.

She has been named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum at Davos and one of Forbes’ 20 Youngest Power Women of Africa … not bad for a tomboy that was fond of climbing trees and didn’t start her schooling until she was 8 years old.

We had the absolute pleasure to sit down with Magatte and discuss her company, the aims for her brand and the vision she ultimately hopes to recreate of Africa throughout the world.

“Tiossan” is a play on words that ultimately means the origins of culture and the origins of humanity in Wolof, the main indigenous language of Senegal, where the natural ingredients consisting of various essential oils, including black seed oil are sourced from. This organic luxury skincare line can be found in spas, specialty boutique stores, and Nordstroms.

“I have a three-fold goal. First of all, we are the only company in the world that devotes 50% of the profits to education, second, we want to create entrepreneurial schools back in Senegal, and third we want to have a campaign around #skinskool. The African approach to skincare is practicing rituals every day to achieve optimal health for your skin. Our approach is not only to take time out for the ritual, but raise awareness that skin is the largest organ on the body and that what you put inside is not that different from what you put on the outside. This is the school of skincare. With Tiossan, we want it to be a place where for once, the African woman is positioned as the teacher, as someone who will be sharing good new practices with her American sister. As we help educate people about how to take care of their skin, we hope that they learn the simple fact that skin is skin, just in different colors. If done right, this really could be its own answer to #blacklivesmatter   and help people move beyond the notion of race which can be so dividing,” Magatte shares passionately.

With such lofty goals, what are her current challenges?

“I want to change the negative perception of Africa. There’s more to Africa than earth colors, sunsets, tribal culture, safari and poverty pity. The challenge that brands like ours face is how to create an identity when for hundreds of years others have decided what it is to be “you”. This is why I have taken almost three years to focus on the direction and voice of my company. When my first company, Adina World Beverages, also based on indigenous natural Sengalese recipes, brought in $30 million dollars of venture capital money in 2004, it came with a lot of strings attached. The direction of the brand changed and I eventually stepped down in 2009.This time around, I brought in very few outside people and invested my own money,” she adds.

What keeps her up awake at night?

“There is a sense of urgency in me. I have a problem with the fact that my people are dying on a constant basis, especially from this migrant phenomenon. The world is just beginning to wake up to this by seeing pictures and videos, but I have grown up seeing this. We need to create jobs back home. That’s what I do with my companies. There is a lack of cultural confidence. I build companies and products in which are embedded the very parts of my culture that I would like to survive and expand. In a nutshell, I don’t do anything by chance. Everything is linked, although it might not always seem that way. I just happen to be an African person who has spent my time in the western world, but never quite left my roots,” she states.

With such strong ideals and passion, who does she credit as the greatest influence on her life?

“My grandma. From a very young age, she made me believe that I was special and I had a special destiny. And I think that changed everything for me.”

In her free time, when she isn’t traveling across the globe, Magatte likes to relax in her home in Austin, TX with her husband Michael Strong, who himself is an accomplished entrepreneur and one of her strongest mentors.

Magatte’s advice to budding entrepreneurs, “Be well-fed, well- rested, and hopefully well-loved and everything else will fall into place.”

Editor’s Note: Faisal Masood is the Founder and President of the American Muslim Consumer Consortium Inc. He has more than 20 years of management consulting, business management, entrepreneurship and sales management experience. Currently he works for JP Morgan Chase in New York. Sabiha Ansari is Co-Founder and Vice-President of the American Muslim Consumer Consortium, Inc. (AMCC). She has a degree in Psychology, is a Certified Empowerment Coach, and a consultant with Canavox, a program of Witherspoon Institute dedicated to promoting family and marriage values. The views expressed here are their own.



Cheikh Mbodj Fighting for his Place

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

cincygatesx-largeUniversity of Cincinnati men’s basketball player Cheikh Mbodj is in his first year with the Bearcats. The 6-10, 245 lb junior spent his first two college years at North Texas Junior College. And he has been a big part of the Cincinnati team thus far. However, this week he was part of an ugly on-court brawl with Xavier University that earned him and a pair of teammates a six game suspension.

The 24-year-old Mbodj was born in Dakar, Senegal before ultimately coming over to the United States. At North Texas Junior College he earned 2011 National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honorable mention honors as well as being named 2011 North Texas Junior College Athletic Association co-player of the year. At NTJC he averaged a team-leading 14.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, and his team posted a 20-11 mark. He ranked No. 24 in the NJCAA Division I statistical rankings in blocks per game, and he shot 50.8 percent from the field (152-of-299). He was ultimately listed as a three-star prospect by, and subsequently chose the University of Cincinnati over San Diego State. He currently majors in General Studies at Cincinnati. For the basketball team he plays the center position.

Mbodj is the son of Asta Khaly Welle and Ousmane Mbodj. He has two brothers, Yerim and Massaer, and four sisters, Ndeye, Fatou, Aminata and Fanta. Cincinnati’s next four games — against Wright State, Radford, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Chicago State — are not expected to test the Bearcats. But the fifth and sixth games of the suspensions handed down to Mbodj and his teammates are a stiff non-conference test against Oklahoma as well as Cincinnati’s Big East opener against the University of Pittsburgh.


Chicago Muslim Student Remembered

Amadou Cisse, who was murdered Monday morning.

CHICAGO, IL–When it came to helping others, Amadou Cisse pulled many times his own weight. Cisse once helped International House Director William McCartney unload 1,000 pounds of weights for the I-House exercise room.

“He was very well-liked by residents and someone who was always quick to help others,” McCartney said.

Cisse, a Muslim Ph.D. student in chemistry at the University and native of Dakar, Senegal, in Africa, was shot and killed early Monday morning.

“He was an extremely gentle person, a very caring person,” said Czerny Brasuell, Director of Multicultural Affairs at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Cisse worked closely with Brasuell during his four years as a student at Bates College. Cisse graduated from Bates College in 2001 with a B.S. degree in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

“He was very concerned with injustice, especially injustices regarding children,” Brasuell said. “He was committed to doing good in this world, particularly as it related to his country and the continent of Africa. I am horrified at the senseless nature of this act that has removed from the world someone who would have done so much good.”

Cisse, 29, had successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on Nov. 1. The University will award him the Ph.D. posthumously at graduation on Dec. 7.

“He was a diligent researcher and very committed to his science and colleagues,” said his faculty adviser, Steven Sibener, the Carl William Eisendrath Professor in Chemistry. “He was incredibly happy last week. He smiled ear-to-ear and just sat back and enjoyed his accomplishment.”

For his Ph.D. research, Cisse studied how molecules diffuse and migrate through films made of large molecules called polymers. “He gave us a new way of measuring diffusion in thin films. That’s quite an accomplishment,” Sibener said.

Cisse and Sibener were interested in the purely scientific aspects of the process. This is also an important problem in the technological world, where thin films act as protective layers for materials and food.

As a teaching assistant for general chemistry, Cisse impressed fellow graduate student Miriam Freedman with his concern for his students. “I think working with students was one of the things he most enjoyed,” Freedman said. “He was always talking about how to improve his students’ understanding of the material and rooting for their success.”

Fellow students also recalled Cisse’s habit of quietly singing or humming as he went about his work. “Amadou loved Senegalese music so much that he recorded it onto tapes from Senegalese radio online,” said Nataliya Yufa, graduate student in chemistry. “That’s why he still had a Walkman. He was planning to get an iPod after graduation. His whole life was on hold til after graduation.”

Lieve Teugels, a graduate student in chemistry, recalled Cisse’s gentle smile, with graduation now in his sight. “I remember how happy he was right after his thesis defense a couple of weeks ago, talking about how he hadn’t told his family he was defending so they wouldn’t worry.”