Tania Attiba is the founder of Connex’ences and a volunteer at Francophonie. Trained as a personal assistant, she spent the early part of her career helping executives organize their lives. While working as a personal assistant in a TV show production company, Tania had an introspective moment where she realized she was far from her dream to become an entrepreneur. So, she chose to learn how to become a manager to give her the experience she might need to start her own food and beverage business some day.
At this time, the Francophone Institute of Entrepreneurship in Mauritius launched an entry examination based on business ideas. Tania applied with her business idea and got in for a masters programme in entrepreneurship from 2006 to 2008. At the end of the training, she started her business but soon realised that to run and manage her own company, she would need more on-the-job experience than she had. She decided to get a job so she could save money and also acquire experience that would help to develop her business idea. Tania got a job as a Program Manager at the First Entrepreneurship College in Benin after which she went back to setting up her company.
Tania loves travel, arts and craft, and getting involved in any programme that promotes women owned small businesses.
What does your company, Connex’ences, do?
My company produces natural fruit juices to help people be in good health. We help households in cities in Benin (Cotonou, Ouidah, Porto Novo, Calavi, Dassa, Grand Popo and Parakou), major cities in neighboring countries and France satisfy their need to stay healthy by providing natural fruit juices. We also help young people to be financially independent by training them to set up their own fruit juice business.
How did you feel when you heard you made the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) list and what was the most difficult part about applying?
I was very excited when I saw my name. I phoned my husband and my aunt to share my joy with them. I was a little sad because I would have loved my mother (RIP) to be there to share the joy with me.
My only difficulty was to fill the application in English. I was worried about my language level because my first language is French.
What is your biggest business challenge and how do you think TEEP will help address it?
My first challenge is capital. I need enough money to set up my company the way I desire. I think that TEEP will help me increase my capital to be more creative.
Was there any time you felt like giving up? Tell us about it and how you overcame that feeling
Five years ago, my mother who was my motivation died. It was very difficult for me because she was my business partner and she inspired me to achieve my goals. I wish I was able to thank her for all she did for me. When this happened, I felt like giving up. So, I decided to stop everything I’d done with my business and got another job.
One day, I saw a biography on TV about a top model that had suffered a lot and lost her mother. She used to pain and suffering to fuel her work and build something in respect of her mother’s memory. This gave me the strength to go on and I decided to respect my mother’s memory by doing the same. I know that my mother is seeing what I’m doing and is proud of me.
Any words of encouragement or advice to entrepreneurs like yourself?
I want to tell women that they have to believe in themselves, yes they can and they will do it as soon as they are in good health. Yes it is possible, young girl to be yourselves, to change also the world. We are the promise of tomorrow.
We are sharing the stories of 30+ African women entrepreneurs who are beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. and whose ideas can change the world. Follow the TEEPcofoundHER series HERE.