‘SUCCESS IS EMBEDDED IN OUR EFFORTS;
ONE MUST WORK HARD, PERSEVERE AND BELIEVE IN HIM/HER SELF’
The story of Arielle Bajt, activist for education and empowerment of young women
- Tell us about yourself, your childhood memories, and your family.
During my childhood, I had a family environment that was very caring. My mother was very loving and always present in my life. I could say that my childhood was full of grace and blessing. I am a unique child born out of love of two young people.
- What were the reasons you left your country of origin and the choice of your current country of residence?
My departure to France was a desire of my family who wanted for me a better future; ergo I should have continued my studies in France. In addition, my close family was already established in this country for a while, so that was one of the facilitating factors for transition.
- Tell us about your career path. What motivates and inspires you in your work?
When I arrived in France, I had to study business management following a decision that was based on a stereotype on immigrants. Initially, I wanted to become a scientist, but my education and guidance counselor suggested me to take my path towards management and economy. In the end, and after a semester of studies, I understood that it was a right decision because I liked enormously the domain.
I continued my studies and received my master’s degree in business management at the University Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Then, I worked for six years in financial departments of service companies before I started in entrepreneurship.
In fact, in 2003, I created my first home care service company and a customer relationship management company. Both of them are still running today. In addition, I developed other projects in digital. One of them won the ‘Coup de coeur’ prize in the “Power Starter” contest with Cyberelles: Women of the Digital in 2014.
Then, in 2016, I created the association ‘Sènan: the future of our children’ aiming through it to accompany girls and young women to be integrated socially and professionally by education, schooling, building self-esteem, learning a trade, vocational training which could guarantee them economic and sustainable autonomy.
For me, the success at the personal or economic level can only be achieved through education. If a young woman received a proper education and support, she has more chances to succeed in life.
The Sènan association is an international solidarity association with HQ office based in France and a small branch in Benin where we have been working for three years on. Our beneficiaries in France are mainly young women in vulnerable situations, adolescents or young women who need support to integrate socially or professionally.
What motivates and inspires me in my work is the belief that everything is possible for those who believe. I believe that success is embedded in our efforts and we should always persevere, work hard and believe in ourselves.
- What are the difficulties you encounter as a woman and as a migrant? If they exist, of course.
I am an immigrant of Beninese origin and I entered France legally to continue my studies. Currently, I consider myself a Franco-Beninese because I integrated the two cultures perfectly. On the other hand, I encountered difficulties as a black woman, mother and entrepreneur. Yet, over the years, I have learned to turn these difficulties into a positive experience. I believe that we must not block ourselves on the difficulties we encounter because we will always have them wherever we go and whatever our origins are. We must know how to go beyond them and turn them into a positive experience in order to move forward.
- What do you think our societies need to do better to ensure women’s full participation in political, social, economic and cultural life in our societies?
I think our societies must first listen to our expectations and needs. In addition, it is important to invite women to participate in major societal issues by giving them a space and the decision making power. Participating in reflection and decision-making could help move things forward.
- How do you see the role of the African diaspora in the development of the continent at all levels?
I see an African diaspora gifted with talents and skills that can really participate in the development of the continent and make significant change. Nevertheless, the role of this diaspora would not be visible and impactful until our countries of origin put in place policies and mechanisms to effectively use this untapped potential. Unfortunately, very often after leaving the country of origin, we feel strangers upon our return and know little about current context, functioning and mentality. This is one of the factors that can potentially diminish the impact of our engagement, but it is definitely not a fatality and thinks can be changed. For this reason, the governments of our countries of origin should set up return and integration mechanisms to facilitate our return, enabling us to work and fully participate in the development of the continent.
- What message would you send to the girls? To other women to inspire them and give them an example?
Girls and young women must DARE and BELIEVE in their potential!
I believe that each person has a unique potential that can be developed with the right means. You should know that nothing falls from the sky, success is embedded in our efforts; one must work hard, persevere and believe in him/herself.