Yasmine Fofana, a Phenomenal African Woman from Cote d’Ivoire is a marketing
and communication professional with 8 years of experience currently serving as an External Affairs Manager at an
American-style University.
She is a woman of many passions and
women’s empowerment is one of them. She now volunteers as the Fundraising Coordinator for an association promoting
female leadership in Cote d’Ivoire.
is a food and travel enthusiast and believes in uniting food and tourism to drive
the economic development of her country. The yearning of launching a startup
geared towards culinary tourism grew over the years as her blog (Journal d’une
Foodie: 1st food & dining guide for locals and expatriates) slowly
became a reference. 
Yasmine attended Fairleigh Dickinson
University and holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in the United States. Yasmine is one of
the 1000 Young Africans Leaders to have been selected for the Mandela
Washington Fellowship program 2016. She recently completed
a Business and Entrepreneurship Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University
from June to July 2016. This amazing experience ended in August 2016 with a
Presidential Summit in Washington DC where all the fellows met with President
Barack Obama.
Faith is very essential in my life. It keeps me grounded.
Over the years, I have really grown into my faith and relationship with God. I
owe it all to him and always seek to accomplish his vision for my life in
everything I do.
Passion is the beginning of every adventure I have
undertook. The passion for everything food related “The Love of Food” as I like
to call it is what got me to start my blog 4 years ago which lead to nurturing
other ideas towards the development of food tourism in Cote d’Ivoire and the privilege
of being called a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow.
Humility works hands in hands with Faith and Passion. Being
humble for me goes a long way.  It’s
important to always look back and realize how far you have come with gratitude
and not arrogance. It’s also important to humble yourself enough to listen to
others (advice or constructive criticism) especially when you are in a position
of leadership.
mother. We are alike is so many ways. She is a strong and wonderful woman that
definitely greatly influenced the woman I am today.
Growing up and until this day, My mother of course
and my aunts. I have been raised by phenomenal women. Determined, businesses
women and entrepreneurs who never settled for less.
Additionally, throughout my journey looked up to
figures such as Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou.
In the next 5 years, my envisioned goal is to
revolutionize the culinary culture in Cote d’Ivoire and in West Africa. I would
like to see Cote d’Ivoire on the map as a major food destination in West
Africa. I do have an accountability partner with whom we exchange ideas and
discuss personal and professional developments plans. We also keep track of
each other’s progress. I have also developed amazing connections while in the
U.S during the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Last but not least, I also have a coach (thanks to
Virginia Commonwealth University, my host Institute during the Fellowship) with
whom I work on different aspects of my personal and professional life.
I believe that it’s hard to generalize the
challenges of all African women at once. The challenges that I face as an
African woman born and raised in Cote d’Ivoire may not be the same challenges that
an African woman from South Africa or Djibouti face. The Culture which entails
tradition and ethnic backgrounds undoubtedly plays an important role. However,
from my perspective and just coming back from the fellowship where I met,
interacted, networked and lived with dynamic, driven and passionate women, I am
confident that African women are on the right track. Although we cannot ignore
challenges such as gender equality, discrimination against women in some
countries and so on, I am proud of the new generation of women that I see
rising to the top.
Unfortunately, African women and women in general
need to be united and not divided. We need to work hands in hands, complement
each other strengths and move forward together.
At my humble level, I contribute the “rising of
women” by being committed in an association promoting female leadership here in
Cote d’Ivoire.
In order to unwind, I swim regularly after work. I
also love traveling, eating out and discover new cuisines (hence the blog) and
reading. Faith being an important part of my life, I regularly take some time
off everything – disconnect – and spend time with God.
MY   –  
I have a profound respect for women in general and
in particular for African Woman. The African Woman should be I.C.E because she
has come a long way and I strongly believe she is unstoppable. African women
now excel in so many fields that years ago were completely unknown to many.
Nowadays, there are Women Presidents, Women who earned Nobel Prizes through
hard work and dedication, Women Engineers, Women in STEM…the list can go on
and on.
I would like my responsibilities to focus on the
rural women economic empowerment. In my country, many women in the rural areas
are living below the poverty line. However, these women are the breadwinners
for their families and sometimes their communities. I would like to help them
build sustainable businesses for themselves.
Have a vision. Be passionate about it. Never stop
believing in yourself and your abilities to succeed according to your own
definition of what that success is and not what society says it should be.  Know your worth and never settle for less.