A former model, Tigui Camara abandoned rhinestones and sequins to pursue mining. Today, as head of Tigui Mining Group (TMG), she uses her podium to advocate on behalf of women.
“In both Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, more than 40% of women work in the artisanal mining sector under particularly difficult conditions. While in large companies, women are confined to non-decision-making roles,” recalls Tigui Camara, president of the Tigui Mining Group (TMG) holding company. A reality she still doesn’t admit.
“Today, I am the only female owner of a mining company in West Africa.”
Born in Conakry, Guinea, daughter of Mohamed Mounir Camara, former president of the National Communication Council, Tigui grew up in a very political world. This environment has forged its character. After studying in Morocco and the United States, Tigui Camara started to work as a model. While parading for the greatest jewellers, she discovered one of Africa’s tragedies: the loss of its mining resources.
“I have moved from modeling to mining entrepreneurship, an environment that is considered rather closed and reserved for men. I founded Tigui Mining Group (TMG) in 2012 with the aim of creating a conglomerate of companies specialising in the exploitation of natural resources. Today, I belong to the small circle of the youngest business leaders. I am the only female owner of a mining company in West Africa. I have been able to defuse gender bias to establish myself as a businesswoman. »
Operating in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, his group develops strategic projects in the mining and agricultural sectors. TMG is valued at $40 million, in terms of mining license acquisitions. A wise businesswoman, Tigui Camara has diversified and developed its activities through the creation of the Camara Diamond & Gold Trading Network (CDGTN), a TMG subsidiary, created in 2009, exclusively in charge of mining exploration activities in Guinea.
“We have been present in Côte d’Ivoire since the beginning of 2014, under the name of Tigui Mining Group Cote d’Ivoire (TMG-CI). The TMG group has a representative office in New York and currently employs fifty people. TMG is slowly but surely diversifying, expanding its activities in all areas of economic viability and potentially sustainable and inclusive development. These include agriculture, fisheries, private aviation, real estate, oil and infrastructure. The year 2018 was marked by the implementation of our first activities in the field of infrastructure. And since June, we have started our first real estate activities with the acquisition of land. They will be used to carry out programmes for the social, tertiary and hotel sectors in Bouaflé in Côte d’Ivoire.
Success in the service of Africa
Tigui Camara also added a string to his bow in accordance with his first life. “In 2010, I founded Danke1975, a cosmetics line based on organic products; TMC Group, a consulting firm specializing in advising investors wishing to establish themselves on the African continent and Foudis, the high-end fashion house created in 2002 in New York, where I have lived permanently since 1996. My ambition is to transform Tigui Mining Group into a multinational company. Through my mining activities, I would like to become an essential force in the socio-economic development of my country, Guinea, and of Africa in general.
A success that it owes to its ambition and a temperament of steel. “The phases of mining require enormous capital and full commitment in the execution and monitoring of activities. There are external, social, financial constraints for women who want to pursue a career. This should not be denied. But isn’t it the same as in the management of all companies? “she asks. For Tigui, women all have a place in the mining sector, not just at the bottom. “Women make the difference through their strength of character, perseverance and motivation. The first thing they need to be convinced of is that no area is reserved for men.
“Through perseverance, I have learned to be respected as a woman and a business leader.”
From her weaknesses, Tigui Camara has made him an asset to evolve in an environment marked by the presence of multinationals. “There are many difficulties. First of all, the complexity of the sector, with long-term profitability that requires a good strategy and a clear vision. The political instability in African countries, which is not conducive to reassuring investors, has forced me to finance myself with my own funds. A particularity for a junior mining company managed by a woman. Undeterred, I am pragmatic and determined. An evil for a good because this operation allows me a total independence and the possibility to progress at my own pace. Through perseverance, I have learned to be respected as a woman and as an entrepreneur.
Tigui Camara defends his vision of management: “From my point of view, a woman is no better than a man in business management. Only leadership and skills matter. You can’t succeed because you’re a woman or a man. I firmly believe that success depends on the intrinsic ability of each individual. Being a woman in a male-dominated environment is a strength in my case. I naturally distinguish myself and draw particular attention to my activities. This is a significant advantage and an opportunity that I am taking full advantage of by focusing on the capacity, value and evolution of women in the mining industry. I know exactly what I want and give myself the means to pursue my policy.
An example for the future
On the strength of her position, she uses her podium to advocate on behalf of women. “My goal is to lead successful companies to give an example of success. There is no specific field for women or men. The important thing is to want to succeed. To do this, you must be passionate about your work, remain professional, educate yourself and have faith. As a mother, I have to be an example to my daughter and to this whole future generation. “A member of several associations, several times awarded for her career, Tigui is both the voice and the face of women in the mining sector. “I think I have opened a path through my humble participation. My example encourages many women to enter the field of their choice. The biggest challenge for women entrepreneurs today is to break down social barriers and find financial support and mentors to guide them. Africa has a young and growing workforce to transform our continent into a global economic power. The challenge remains equal opportunities for access to education and technical skills development for young people. ».
For Tigui Camara, learning must be lifelong: “My success comes from mastering and understanding my activities. This requires going down to the field. It is important as an entrepreneur to have some knowledge of all the different aspects of the development of his activities. Whatever the sector of your choice, you must be professional, courteous, disciplined and have an exceptional sense of organization and follow-up. It is never too late to learn. Take training throughout your career. Don’t be afraid of failure because you learn a lot from your previous mistakes. The important thing is to get up and go harder to achieve your goals. Challenging stereotypes! Feel free to step outside your comfort zone and overcome your fears, however legitimate they may be.
“WIA Initiative stands out for its vision and approach to the development of African women”
Good advice to which she adds the importance of networks such as the Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative. “The network is an important key if you know how to use it. It must be used as a platform where one can give and receive. These tools enable women to give themselves a common path and strength to take their rightful place at the national and international levels. Women occupy 70% of informal entrepreneurship. It is time to retrain these women entrepreneurs in the formal sector. Through platforms such as the WIA Initiative, or Women Entrepreneurship Day (WED), they can find support and financial means to develop economically and socially. WIA Initiative stands out for its vision and approach to the development of African women. »