Meet Tiguidanke Camara, the African miner on heels. You may have noticed that mining seems as though it was a strictly male profession. Not that there are occupations strictly reserved for men or women these days.
Statistics of the Mining Industry Of Ivory Coast reveals that out of 6000 direct jobs, women represented 112 spots. Likewise, of 30,000 mining-related jobs, women occupied 400 positions.
Gradually the women folk are infiltrating what is thought to be male-dominated fields. Tiguidanke Camara is one of the women shattering the glass ceiling.
Here are the interesting facts about the lady who has dared take her place in the mining sector:
1. An Ex-Fashion Model
The first interesting thing about Tiguidanke Camara is the fact that the lady ditched modelling for mining. According to her, modelling helped her pave her way into the mining business. Camara had a successful modelling career. She featured in several popular magazines like GQ and Marie Claire.
She left for Morocco at the age of 14 to study Business Management. Modelling came in handy while she was still a student. It became a full-time affair in 1996 when she moved to the United States. She had been discovered in New York by the mother of the supermodel, Tyson Beckford.
As a model, she modelled all kinds of jewellery. It never did it cross her mind that the jewel pieces she modelled were from Africa.
“When I was a model, I showed off for the jewellers. They have licences in Africa to provide their precious stones,”
On that discovery, she contacted a supplier and from there launched herself into the business.
“I thought, ‘If he could do it, I could do it.’ He is not even from Africa or Guinea, but he has been successful at doing this. Being a native, why can’t I also be successful?”
2. First Female Mine Owner In West Africa
What a feat! Tiguidanke Camara is the first female in West Africa to own a mine.
“I’m the owner of a mining company that belongs to me 100 percent,”
“I think I bring some fresh air to the mining business,”
Apart from South Africa where the mining sector booms, there are not many female mine owners in Africa.
3. Entrepreneur and Shrewd Business Woman
It takes the entrepreneurial spirit to kiss the runway glamour goodbye just to get the hands dirty in the mud of Guingouine village.
In 2010, Tiguidanke Camara set up her mining company in Guingouine village, western region of Ivory Coast. Together with her team of geologists and laborers, Camara founded TMG Tigui Mining Company.
After saving up for her mining adventure, Camara unfortunately partnered with a dubious personality who made away with her money. Many would have given up at that point but the brave lady saw the incident as a lesson and motivator. She got right back on her feet and set the ball rolling again. She admits it was and has never been easy but definitely worth it.
“No one has just started a business where everything has gone smoothly. You will have your moments of hardship.”
TMG is now a full-fledged mining company that engages in mining and agricultural operations across West Africa.
The group has a subsidiary, Camara Diamond & Gold Trading Network which owns mining licences in gold, diamond and related minerals spanning 356km² in Guinea. TMG has launched a gold prospection project in Ivory Coast as well.
4. A Mother & Role Model
In 2001 she became the mother of twins. Tigui Camara is not just a biological mother of 2 but has become a role model to women in her country and Africa as a whole. Being the only female mine owner in Guinea as well as one of Africa’s youngest mining executives has placed her on a pedestal for aspiring businesswomen in Africa.
Most significantly, Alphonse Doh, the village chief believes that the launch of TMG in Guingouine could transform the lives of the villagers. He also strongly hopes that Camara’s success will strengthen the girl child education in the region where over 80% of girls can neither read nor write.
Camara has influenced the establishment of an association of Women in the Mining Network of Ivory Coast. According to France’s weekly Jeune Afrique, Camara is one of the 50 most influential businesswomen of Francophone Africa.
“My goal is to develop my businesses in the right manner, following the rules. I am not in a hurry to grow. I want to grow slowly, but surely, when I have solid foundations.”
5. Born To A Prominent Family
The West African go-getter is the daughter of Mohamed Mounir Camara, a prominent politician and former Guinea governor.