Saleswoman of patties with an initial capital of 300 CFA francs, less than 0.50 euros, in the 1980s, Mamounata Oubda born Velegda is today a self-taught economic operator with a turnover of 30 million euros and an international reputation! CEO of the Velegda Group, specialized in the import / export of fresh produce and cereals, Mamounata Velegda has become a key important figure in the field of agribusiness in Burkina Faso.
Discreet by nature, Mamounata Velegda is constantly solicitated and always traveling. « My creed, to have faith in what I undertake, » she says And yet, nothing predestined the woman in her sixties, mother of four, to a promising career as a business leader. When she started her business in 1980, as a seller of patties on the street, her capital is only a few hundred CFA francs. « I started with 300 FCFA (0.47 euros), before expanding my business to tubers and fruits. Then, when I had more money, I sold corn flour that I bought in neighboring Ghana. » I then sold corn, sorghum and finally shea nuts, product that constitutes the bulk of its commercial activity.
This is Mamounata Velegda’s path. Born in a peasant family of central-east Burkina Faso, she was from an early age, marked by an injustice related to her status as a woman. « I was nine when the first school in my village opened. We were in 1967. While I wanted so much to get enrolled, my father preferred to register my brother. I had to stay home for housework, » she recalls bitterly.
The Velegda Group, founded by Mr. Velegda, exports worldwide.
One secret : Work
To this painful decision for the girl, another event would add on. « One day, I heard my mother tell her friends that it had been three days since she had had tobacco to suck for lack of money. » Moved by this, the girl decides the next day to go and work in the farm of her grandmother. « The money I earned allowed me to satisfy my mother. I have always tried to serve my parents and give them the best. I think I received their blessing. » The only secret of Hadja, as she is called respectfully, lies in the work. « I refuse to believe that there is a secret to succeed. I believe that it is necessary above all to work and to ask the help of God ». Thus she regularly calls on «her sisters» to fight and not to be carried away by discouragement and failure.
About thirty permanent employees
With her experience as an example, she recalls that it was by courage that she managed to become one of the most important buiness people in Burkina Faso. CEO of the Velegda Group today, she employs more than thirty permanent employees in addition to these 400 to 500 temporary jobs.
The production, harvest and marketing of local products (shea kernels, sesame, peanut, etc.) and cereals (millet, sorghum, maize, cowpeas, etc.) are the main activity of the group. It also imports manufactured products such as cooking oils, pasta, flour, sugar and animal feed.
The business woman worked for a long time in her native region, before the growth of her businesses pushed her to settle in Ouagadougou, the capital, in the 1990s, on the advice of her deceased husband. « He helped me a lot. My business grew partly thanks to the bonds that existed between us ». Awarded the Grande-Croix of National Order of Merit in 2016, Mamounata Velegda served as chairnperson of the Central East and East Chamber of Commerce. Her bsuinesses have enable her to build a strong network and she surrounds herself with employees who are knowledgeable of stakes and challenges of the business world. This team enable her to develop a vision beyond Africa and commercial relations with partners from several European countries including Denmark.
« My husband helped me a lot. My business grew partly thanks to the bonds that existed between us »