Photo by Judd van Rensburg for the "AFRICA YOUR TIME IS NOW" campaign created by Papama Mtwisha
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. To date, more than 200 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. 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. 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, 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 and co-authored with Anna Trapido THE AFRICAN ART OF TEA (to be published in 2019).
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.
Swaady has lived in 11 countries across Africa, Europe, the United States and Asia.
2018 - Africa’s most influential Women in Business and Government 2018
2015 – Won the “2015 Emerging African Brand” award by Brand Africa
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