Ivory Coast, South Africa / Yswara / 40

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Friends had ad­vised her not to give up her suc­cess­ful ca­reer at Gen­eral Elec­tric to start up a lux­ury brand in South Africa. But Swaady Martin-leke be­lieved in her idea. “I wanted to build a lux­ury brand that is truly African.” Her com­pany, Yswara, be­gan trad­ing in gourmet teas in 2012 and is now one of the con­ti­nent’s lead­ing lux­ury brands, with a broad port­fo­lio of prod­ucts rang­ing from scented can­dles to jewelry. “All our prod­ucts are sourced from Africa and crafted by lo­cal crafts­peo­ple and ar­ti­sans, com­bin­ing tra­di­tional tech­niques with mod­ern de­signs.” Born in Ivory Coast, she stud­ied eco­nom­ics and other sub­jects in Lausanne and lived and worked in eleven coun­tries in Africa, Europe, North Amer­ica and Asia. When asked about where she calls home, she re­sponds: “I am an Afropoli­tan.”

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