Photo by Judd van Rensburg for the "AFRICA YOUR TIME IS NOW" campaign created by Papama Mtwisha
Swaady MARTIN is one of Africa’s most recognized young leader, influencer and tastemaker. She is a serial entrepreneur, published author, certified Yoga & Mindfulness teacher and former corporate executive at GE, where for 10 years she had various roles in Audit & Controllership, Finance, Sales & Marketing and Business Strategy across the world. She was part of the pioneering Africa Dream Team and drove the expansion of GE’s portfolio of businesses across Africa by developing the 1st Africa Growth Playbooks (3-years strategic plans) for all GE businesses. In her last role at GE, she was the acting-CEO for GE South Africa Technologies and Director for GE Transportation for Sub- Saharan Africa. In 2012, she followed her entrepreneurial aspirations and created one of Africa’s most admired brands, YSWARA, a socially-conscious gourmet tea company contributing to the reversal of the African commodity trap and promoting Africa’s rich culture. YSWARA has received numerous awards and recognitions for its excellence and was the first African food brand to be retailed at the prestigious Selfridges and Harrods. A Consciousness activist, Swaady launched SHIFT WITHIN in 2017, a platform offering online & offline personal development courses and events to promote Africa’s inner revolution, including Tounché Global Consciousness Summit a day-long soul-retreat held on sacred locations around the world. To date, more than 800 people have had transformative life experiences through SHIFT WITHIN programs and events. Swaady has been passionate about African Leadership since she was a teenager and participated in the set-up of several organizations including the African Leadership Network (ALN) and Africa 2.0. Since 2017, she is also a Board member of The African Leadership Institute and she is a founding member of Facebook’s Leaders Network, an initiative by the social media conglomerate supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Profiled extensively in the media, from Forbes to CNN, BBC, Financial Times, Al Jazeera and Monocle, Swaady has made several magazine covers, received numerous awards including named to the Forbes and O Power Lists for Africa. She is a sought-after inspirational speaker, African fashion icon (Named GLAMOUR magazine Most GLAMOURous 2016) and a published author of spiritual tales for children.
Swaady MARTIN is a serial entrepreneur and author. She has 20+ years experience in Business Management, Brand Building and New Business Model development working with the multinational GE (General Electric) and various entrepreneurial ventures (family businesses, start-ups). She is the founder & CEO of YSWARA, a social enterprise; transforming African agricultural commodities locally to contribute to the reversal of the African commodity trap. Swaady is also the author/creator of the “Luxe Ubuntu” concept, an inclusive business model providing economic value and meaningful income to all the members of the supply chain, who participate in the production of products.
In January 2018, she launched SHIFT WITHIN, a self-development platform offering courses, programs, workshops, retreats and gatherings promoting mindful living. On December 1st 2018, she launched TOUNCHE, Global Consciousness Summit. To date, more than 800 people have gone through the SHIFT WITHIN programs and experienced major shifts in their lives.
She has received numerous distinctions and awards. She is an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow and an Aspen Europe-Africa Emerging Leader Fellow. She was named “The Queen of African Luxury” by FORBES in 2013. The same year, she was named by the same publication (FORBES), one of “The top 20 young Africans building the future of Africa”. In 2014, she was listed on Oprah Winfrey’s “O’ Power List” and named one of the “Youngest Power Women in Africa” by FORBES. In 2011, Swaady was named “New Leader of the Future” by the Forum of Crans Montana.
Prior to pursuing her entrepreneurial interest, Swaady had a successful 10-years career at General Electric Co. where she held leadership positions in several divisions across the world with her last posting as GE Transportation’s Director for Sub-Saharan Africa and acting-CEO for GE South Africa Technologies (GESAT). Among others, she developed GE’s first strategic plans for Africa. She is the author of the A.F.R.I.C.A business model for accelerating the growth of multinationals in Africa which was recognized as a Best Practice and shared at various ivy league business schools (INSEAD, Wharton, Harvard) and business forums (Medef).
Swaady is a strong advocate of conscious entrepreneurship, consciousness, women empowerment and leadership. Among other things, she led the GE Women’s Network for Africa, supports various leadership initiatives and participated in the set-up of the Africa 2.0 and the African Leadership Network (ALN), premier networks of young African leaders. She was asked by Facebook to join Facebook’s Boost Leaders Network as a founding member, an initiative supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Passionate about communities’ development and bottom-of-the-pyramid challenges, Swaady spent 2 years helping bank the unbanked in Nigeria supporting the work of Paga, a mobile payment company.
Swaady has spoken and speaks around the world to various audiences. Some of her past speaking engagements include Harvard Business School, Oxford University, Wharton Business School, INSEAD, MEDEF, Facebook Africa, Investec Bank, African Leadership Academy, etc.
Swaady has authored MALAIKA AND THE ANGEL, a collection of spiritual tales
Swaady holds a Masters in Economic Sciences from HEC Lausanne University of Lausanne, Switzerland) and an MBA from the London School of Economics (LSE), NYU Stern Business School and HEC Paris Business School (2012)
Swaady completed the Change Make Program at the Harvard Divinity School (2019)
Swaady is a Yoga & Mindfulness for children Teacher, certified by the Yogabeez Yoga & Mindfulness Children International School (2019)
Swaady has lived in 11 countries across Africa, Europe, the United States and Asia.
2019 - Tropics Magazine 200 African Changemakers 2018/2019
2018 - Africa’s most influential Women in Business and Government 2018
2015 – Won the “2015 Emerging African Brand” award by Brand Africa
2015 _ Choiseuil 200 Africa Economic Leaders for Tomorrow
2015 – Nominated as a Rising Talent at the 2015 Women’s Forum for the economy & society,
2014 – Named one of the 40 women on Oprah Winfrey’s “O Power List 2014”
2014 - Named one of “the 20 young Africans building Africa’s future” by FORBES
2014 - Won the "Africa Economy Builders" award
2013 - Named one Africa’s top business woman by New African Woman and Les Afriques
2012 - Named one of “the 20 youngest power women in Africa” by FORBES
2012 - Awarded a Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship
2011 - Named “New Leader of the Future” by the Crans Montana Forum