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West African Chapter

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Edith of Greenville, SC Exhibiting her copy of SANATA Magazine Volume 7

Edith holding her copy of SANATA Int’l Magazine Vol. 7

Edith Kakou, National Program Coordinator for the West African Chapter

Edith Kakou is a native of Cote d’Ivoire (West Africa) residing in Greenville, South Carolina. For over 15 years, Edith has owned and managed one of the best and finest hair braiding salons in the United States located in Mauldin, south Carolina. Her bi-cultural background and focus on community collaboration has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles. Owner of Edith Braids by Design, Edith works tirelessly to improve the hair braiding and weaving industry, and help braiders to achieve financial freedom. Edith is a very well accomplished Woman Entrepreneur.

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The West African Chapter:

Women Entrepreneurship Support: encourage, train and prepare African Women and Diaspora communities in the U.S. with vested business activities in Africa to be successful in Africa • Vocational Training: Eight (8)-month program entirely delivered in West Africa that offers training in Basic English, Customer Service, Hygiene, and Sanitation followed by a Thirty (30)-month program in the U.S. where students are trained in U.S. Cosmetology Programs and assigned in Cosmetology salons as Interns. Upon completion, students are urged to return to their home countries, where Cosmetologists are in high demand with assistance from the WEP to start their own businesses.

The goal of the West African Chapter of the WEP is two-fold. First and foremost, it is to broaden opportunities for skilled African women to achieve their full potential by giving them the tools they need for success, hence helping to reduce the poverty level in the female population. Second, it is in direct response to U.S. salon owners’ growing demand for skilled and dedicated professionals in the hair braiding and natural hair care industry. Through this project, the organization is building a bridge between Africa and the United States for the ultimate collaboration within the natural beauty industry. Renowned braiding and natural hair care professionals and instructors will be sent to the schools in Africa for frequent training seminars and skilled African braiders will be sent to the United States to share the knowledge of their art with American professionals.

It is our pleasure to play a part in mediating the exchange of skill and talent between these two groups, two continents, two cultures and it is an honor to announce that classes officially began in September 2012 in three West African countries: Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. Strategic agreements are being signed with the governments of those countries through their National Agencies for Youth Employment in order to ensure the actual return of the participants to their home countries and assistance in establishing and promoting their own businesses.

Together we have built the bridge!