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S2E1: Cheukai Makari's Journey to Empowering African Women

In this insightful podcast episode, Cheukai Makari, CEO and co-founder of Aminat Ventures, delves into her personal and professional journey, highlighting her deep-rooted connection to Sierra Leone and her transformative educational experience at UC Berkeley. Growing up in Sierra Leone, Cheukai developed a keen awareness of the challenges faced by her community, fostering a strong desire to contribute positively to improving living standards in her homeland. This early exposure to the realities of developing nations set the stage for her future endeavors in sustainable development and female entrepreneurship.

At UC Berkeley, Cheukai’s academic pursuits were instrumental in shaping her career path. She pursued a dual degree in International Business and Global Development, focusing specifically on Africa. This educational journey was not just about acquiring knowledge; it was a period of self-discovery and personal growth. At Berkeley, Cheukai engaged in various initiatives and organizations, such as the Haas Undergraduate Black Business Association and the Blum Center for Developing Economies. These experiences allowed her to explore different facets of development work, from the grassroots to the global level, and solidified her commitment to making a tangible impact.

The conception of Aminat Ventures is a testament to Cheukai’s dedication to fostering sustainable development in Africa. The venture was born out of a combination of her academic work, personal experiences, and the innovative environment at Berkeley. Aminat Ventures is not just a business; it’s a mission-driven endeavor aiming to empower African women entrepreneurs by providing them with the necessary tools, mentorship, and resources to create sustainable and efficient businesses from the ground up. This approach is community-driven, focusing on empowering women to develop solutions that are not only economically viable but also environmentally sustainable.

Looking to the future, Cheukai has ambitious plans for Aminat Ventures. Her vision extends beyond the current scope of the venture, aiming to expand its reach across Africa. This expansion is not just about scaling up operations; it’s about creating a significant, measurable impact on community living standards. Cheukai envisions using data-driven methods to demonstrate the positive effects of Aminat Ventures’ work, aspiring to provide empirical evidence that investing in community-led, women-driven initiatives can lead to substantial improvements in societal well-being.

In summary, this podcast episode provides a comprehensive overview of Cheukai Makari’s journey from her early life in Sierra Leone to becoming a co-founder of a venture that stands at the intersection of sustainable development and female empowerment. Her story is one of resilience, innovation, and unwavering dedication to making a difference in the lives of African women and their communities.


– Clarification on references: Cheukai mentions a book titled “Waste as Infrastructure” but intends to reference “People as Infrastructure” by Abdumaliq Simone, published in a research journal, in conversation with “Garbage Citizenship” by Rosalind Fredericks.

– Correction on terminology: Towards the end of the episode, Cheukai inadvertently says “renewable pads” but means to say “reusable pads.”

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