When you look at the young and vivacious Fatimata Kane, it is hard to believe that the 38 year old is a Global Entrepreneur of repute. A Parisian of Senegalese descent, Fatimata has founded companies like BIOKIDé and KAPWAN West France, that promote sustainability.
However, it took her a long road to reach where she is today. Born in Evreux (Normandy), 100 kms from Paris, Fatimata grew up with 1 brother and 4 sisters. She obtained her baccalaureate, and pursued a course to become a nurse. After a few internships in a hospital environment, she decided to change her career path and reoriented herself in management. She completed a BTS in management of commercial units in alternation, and was subsequently hired in an industrial cleaning company as an operations manager.
After 2 years, she created her own structure – KAP MULTISERVICES, a company specializing in cleaning sites, while she was pregnant with her first child. “Everything was new for me and I was not necessarily ready or well rounded to succeed in taking care of my business properly. I had to make a choice, so I decided to stop working. When I was able to start again, I came back stronger, organised, and more combative.”
In 2015, she created BIOKIDé, a high-end cosmetics company based on baobab oil in order to promote the benefits of this oil from Senegal, her parents native country, and from other African countries. “I have a real passion for luxury and art. BIOKIDé allows me to combine the two and to bloom. I spend a lot of time in museums and observe and draw inspiration from my surroundings. With BIOKIDé, our goal has always been to promote sustainable luxury. Being attentive to all stakeholders from production to distribution and our ecosystem is of paramount importance.”
Commitment, creativity and attention to detail has seen Fatimata succeed in all her ventures. In 2014, she won a regional contest in France by ‘Créatrice d’avenir’ in the category ‘Audace’ which highlights companies created by women in order to bring them visibility and support to start or develop their business. This allowed her company in industrial cleaning to establish a reputation in the field of construction sites. She was thus able to work on the largest construction site in France, that of famous architect Jean Nouvel, which was a real challenge.
BIOKIDé too is in the process of being certified by ‘Positive Luxury’ with the ‘Butterfly Mark’, which is awarded to luxury companies in recognition of their commitment to creating a positive impact on society and the planet. The Butterfly Mark is an independent certification for luxury brands that meet the highest standards of verified innovation and environmental social performance.
Telling us how her 8-year-old son is the wind beneath her wings, Fatimata says, “He allows me to stay focused on my goals, not get lost in useless tasks, and make the most of my work hours so I can spend more time with him.” Two other women who inspire her include her mother, who is of limitless kindness and great benevolence towards the people who surround her, and second, Oprah Winfrey, who succeeded in building an empire in a field where one did not expect it, by starting from nothing.
As a woman’s leader herself, what has been the most challenging barrier in Fatimata’s career? “My biggest barrier was financial because I created 2 big structures without any cash flow. It is madness that I do not advise anyone. In the beginning, the banks did not follow me, I had little experience, and I was in a very competitive, totally male sector. Showing my customers that I was capable of providing technical solutions to their needs was a big challenge. Managing a team composed only of men was not easy either; to be respected while creating group cohesion was near impossible.”
Yet, with her trademark perseverance and dynamism, Fatimata persisted. “I never run away from my responsibilities and I constantly question myself. I am also very curious and always looking for new things, always learning in order to perfect my knowledge and skills.”
Leaving a message for all the women entrepreneurs out there, she sums up: “I want to send a message to all the female entrepreneurs in the world, telling them that entrepreneurship is not only for men. Do not put up barriers; go for it by setting well-targeted goals, and above all, don’t be afraid of failure, start over and over again until you reach those goals. Family life and entrepreneurial life are compatible with a lot of organization and perseverance. So Yes! A woman can invest and flourish in entrepreneurship and succeed.”