After a successful career as an information systems manager in large companies, Isabelle Mashola decided it was time to put her professional experience to responsible use. This she did by creating Isahit, a fair platform to outsource digital tasks to young women students or entrepreneurs in Africa. A real boost towards the empowerment of African women and a real impact against poverty.
Careers, even brilliant ones, are not always enough for professional fulfilment, and no matter how many times you've worked for the biggest groups and are in your early fifties, you sometimes miss that little something, the something that would finally correspond to your values and perhaps also to a certain philosophy of life. This is the state of mind in which Isabelle Mashola finds herself in 2014, then director of information systems at Publicis, when questions about the meaning of life and above all what to do with it, are becoming more and more important. "I can't say that I was absolutely unhappy in my job, but each slice of life has its own challenges. This period was a bit of a professional assessment for me. From job to job, I had climbed the pyramid, but I realised that power for power's sake did not motivate me. What really counts for me is learning. My personal values of fairness, honesty, helpfulness and non-violence were drifting away from the corporate world, whose evolution towards a kind of violence and disrespect towards each other no longer made sense to me. For me, who believes deeply in the strength of the group, the situation was not really in harmony. A harmony that Isabelle is now trying to regain. The idea of change is maturing, and external activities are multiplying, such as her support for an endowment fund that helps young women in Africa to become independent. When she went to Cameroon, Isabelle realised that the task was immense and realised how useful and responsible her professional experiences could finally be, at least in a societal and fundamentally human dimension. The process of maturation came to an end, and Isabelle decided to leave Publicis.
The time of a pause, two refusals of posts ("I was not going back to the path I had just left"), missions as a board, and with the support of his companion (himself "serial entrepreneur"), Isabelle decides to embark on Entrepreneurial adventure. "We have gone from nothing. There is this long period of tunnel in which we do not see the light. We build, then we deconstruct; Brainstorming in brainstorming, we advance, we have the concept tested to his entourage, we build a business plan and finally we end up to glimpse the light. It is extremely important to test the idea, to exchange. The transition from idea to creation is difficult, and it takes energy and jacked! recalls the one who, in July 2015, created Isahit, a fair platform offering work to young women in Africa and which, through this, allows large companies to outsource part of their digital activity.
Because it was originally the idea: How to help these young African women, often in precarious situations, to continue their studies, to develop their small business or trade, in any case to emancipate themselves. The digital divide may be terrible in some parts of the world. But I am one of those who are convinced that digital is a lever of freedom for women.
In practice, all digital tasks, most of the time consuming for companies, Isahit is in charge of responsible and sustainable ethics. Customers who are often startups but not only – Isahit account of schools, a car rental company, an online bank – are themselves looking for responsible purchases. These tasks are of three types: data entry and validation, moderation and transcription, and content identification and categorization. Benefits that do not require qualification but human intervention.
The young women are obviously trained upstream, because obviously, and for lack of means, they do not have the codes of the native digital. we provide them with the useful material, find them a place where they can connect and work. We recruit in Cameroon, Senegal, Burkina Faso or in the Congo, women who need this job to either complete their studies or create their business or viable. We accompany them in their history. That is the goal of reducing poverty through fair employment. And so, the money they earn through Isahit, must be reinjected into their project with the ultimate goal, their independence.
Education, professionalisation, empowerment of African women workers... these are all objectives that make Isahit part of an eco-responsible outsourcing concept thatIsabelle Mashola intends to extend to other countries like Rwanda and Togo. "Today, I am using my professional experience for sustainable purposes. Within the team, which now numbers 8 people, we share the same values and Isahit is on its way to having a real and measured social impact". Quite a good start for the woman who, when she launched her business, said to herself: "at worst, it won't work". A fine lesson in positivism.
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