Salmine Sassi, from Tunisia, is currently undertaking the International Master in Management thanks to the EADA’s Martin Rahe Scholarship she received. Salmine is an excellent example of a purpose-driven leader. She is an entrepreneur and an innovation consultant, apart from being a tech for sustainability enthusiast. Salmine also works with lots of entrepreneurs to help them asses the market, identify opportunities, develop strategies and re-invent business models. In 2018, our EADA Alumna co-founded She Starts Africa, a social venture created to advance women through building their capacities in entrepreneurship & leadership.
In your opinion, what is a professional or a manager with a purpose?
A professional or a manager with a purpose is someone who has a reason for the things they are doing: what drives them, what wakes them up in the morning, the impact that they are trying to do to make the change that they are trying to achieve in life.
What can professionals do to align the company’s purpose with the common good?
If the business is only driven by profitability, then I don’t think it will survive. A business has to have a mission. The company needs to have a reason for existence. And that reason should align with the common good or with the changes they want to see in their local ecosystem where they are operating. And I can give my organisation as an example: She Starts Africa’s mission is to advance women through building their capacities in entrepreneurship, so our mission is driven by the success of future female entrepreneurs.
Why should we contribute to the common good?
Because we are causing damage to the planet and we have to work together to sustain our lives. We cannot grow if we are selfish and only focused on profit but if there is a common good and we all work together, then we can all thrive and grow and change life as we know it because humanity right now is not going in the best direction.
What advice would you give to the future and current professionals in the business world to develop their work with a purpose?
For current or future professionals to develop their work with purpose, they should first take a step back and reflect and think about what change they want to see in the world. That should be their driver in whatever career choices they make. For example, if the change that I want to see in the world is environmental sustainability, and green energy or clean tech, then I shouldn’t be working for a corporation that uses coal. I should be driven by my own mission and purpose about what I want to see change and then work towards it or choose the career that makes that happen for me. But not live a double life where on one side of your career, you’re choosing profit and money and putting aside your values, ethics, mission or purpose and in your personal life, you choose purpose. Your personal life and career should both take you towards achieving your purpose.
What are the main current social, economic and environmental challenges that organisations need to address urgently?
I think, in general, the 16 SDGs are all challenges. All organisations should think about whether they incorporate sustainable corporate strategies in their CSR and small businesses should think about the way they do business and their value chain. However, I believe the most important issue is to reflect on the negative impact of what we are doing to the environment around us. I think that is the first step and then we can move on to all of the other challenges that we need to address.
Do you think a Purpose Department will exist in the future?
I think a department of purpose or mission or a chief executive of mission should exist because managers cannot do it all and sometimes, we do not have the overall picture. We have a tunnel vision into what we are doing as a business so having that person who tells you how to bring all of that together and create the purpose of a business would be interesting.
What is your purpose in life?
My purpose in life is to be one of the people who supports female entrepreneurs in Africa so that Africa is not left behind in the digital transformation and the technological change that is taking place. I think women can be the drivers of that digital change in Africa. However, if we do not provide education to women and young people about how to build a business and be entrepreneurial then we may miss out on these advances that are happening. If I can be part of the solution or part of the catalyst for that to happen then I’ve achieved my purpose in life.
Why do you think it is important to support changemakers in Africa?
I think it’s very important to support female changemakers in Africa because, speaking from experience, I believe that women tend to duplicate impact. We care more about our society and the people around us. There is a lot of research that shows that many female entrepreneurs in Africa are entrepreneurs of necessity; where they see a problem in their community, and they build businesses and solutions around it. What I want to see in our continent is these female entrepreneurs growing, using technology to scale at a continental level and maybe globally. However, I believe that we won’t be able to do that if we don’t receive the right education, if we don’t get access to the right network, mentoring or support. I think these types of scholarships and support are very important to give aspiring female entrepreneurs and female changemakers the opportunity to offer new solutions at scale.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I would say that my mission will be the same but how I do things may be different. Currently I’m achieving my mission through the freelance work that I do with different accelerators and incubators as well as my organisation, She Starts Africa. In five years, I see myself as someone who will be supporting hundreds of female entrepreneurs throughout the continent of Africa. And not only supporting them but actually seeing an outcome, a KPI, see their organisation flourishing, using available tech to scale to reach new markets and to compete on the global market.