My name is Aniaba Jean-Baptiste, I am the Founder and Executive Director of the Pan-African Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs. Born and raised in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, I see myself as a creative Ivorian entrepreneur who is guided by the thirst to lead, inspire and empower tellurians, one project at a time. I am also a seasoned UX Designer at Dessart Studios and am the voice behind Nomadic Tapes: The Eternal Passenger, a podcast centered around the philosophy of travel and its significance in understanding identity, society, and culture. I am almost always designing, speaking somewhere, or writing.
Currently based in the United States, I am pursuing a BA in Economics at Morehouse College on an Oprah Winfrey Scholarship, Aaron’s 1st Generation Scholar, and as an honor Thurman honor student. I am also a recipient of the Fall 2022 Social Justice and Leadership Award by the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership.
In 2020, I won the Student Enterprise award at the African Leadership Academy as the CFO of a fashion and apparel business called Watajua (Which translates to “They Will Know” in English). In 2021, I won the Anzisha Prize Artist Design Competition.
Click here to visit Aniaba Jean-Baptiste’s Website and follow his work here!
- What does entrepreneurship mean to you? Can you tell us more about your entrepreneurship journey?
Entrepreneurship is problem-solving. It is a perspicacious mindset that helps one drive positive impact by connecting the dots between obstacle and opportunity. Entrepreneurship is one of the tools that will transform the African continent for the better in this 21st century.
My entrepreneurial stammering started at the age of 16 when I was tasked to research and present potential solutions to a growing phenomenon in my community: Premature Pregnancies of Underaged Girls. This ended up as a conference I gave to a 50+ audience of parents, students, and civil society actors at a National Youth Event in Anyama, Côte d’Ivoire. I still remember how nervous I was to engage on this often taboo topic in front of adults, parents, and friends of mine. From there, I had become more passionate about social dilemmas in my community and was lucky to get admitted to the African Leadership Academy for a two-year program focused on entrepreneurship and leadership. Here we are in 2022, talking about the launch of Africa’s first-of-its-kind Pan-African Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs.
- What does community mean to you?
Community is the culture and individuals that make us feel alive and understood. Community is a space that wants the best for us.
- Where do you see PAYE in the next 10 years?
I remember putting together the PAYE scenario at home during my unexpected gap year in 2020. Believe it or not, the original idea for PAYE was far from what it looks like now. I spent sleepless nights and hundreds of hours thinking and designing this project. The need behind PAYE came from my struggle as a lone entrepreneur lacking a support network, funds, and cheap expertise to take my ideas to the next level. The aha moment came when I realized that I knew at least 25 entrepreneurs with specific expertise who each knew at least 25 other entrepreneurs or talents. It became a chain reaction.
10 years from now, I see PAYE as a well-established organization in all four cardinal points of Africa, with more solidified programs that serve thousands of young entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship should no longer feel like a lonely endeavor.
- What is your motto in life? why?
Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, a leading expert in influence, leadership communication, and Peak Performance once said “Strive for excellence, not success”. I agree. Excellence, unlike Success, is a variable we have control over.
- Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
Sometime in 2032, I will probably be on a trip, playing the guitar and singing with Lara Fabian by the seaside on Manafiafy Beach (Madagascar). Other than that, I see myself spending my time doing things I love: traveling, developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, and telling stories.