Event: Making your way up 2023

Speakers at the Making your way up event

Sayaspora organized a full-day event on September 22, 2023 at Place des Arts in Montreal, designed to equip and empower women from the African diaspora to navigate the Canadian job market. As a result, 150 young women were able to take part free of charge:

  • 2 workshops
  • 3 conferences
  • Networking activities

This event was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

Logo Funded by the Government of Canada
Speakers at the Making your way up event

Workshop 1: How to assert your identity in the workplace?

At this first workshop, which was limited to 50 places, women from the African diaspora were invited to debate and share their experiences on how the affirmation of their identity can be perceived in the professional environment in Montreal and Canada.

A time for sharing and exchanging ideas, essential for understanding the challenges we face, which often hinder our professional development!

A “safe space” which is unfortunately all too rare, but which enabled participants to speak out and be listened to.

Speakers at the Making your way up event

Workshop 2: How can we deal with identity issues in a professional context?

This workshop was a continuation of the first, and equipped the women present with the best way of dealing with identity-related micro-aggressions in the workplace.

Amélie Tintin, a powerful speaker, delivered a detailed presentation with useful resources to address this issue.

She also gave advice to the women during an open question and answer session.

Conference 1: Doing business alongside your professional activity

“This is for the girls that done worked full time, girls who thrives, Livin’ out dreams money just can’t buy”


These 3 panelists, all seasoned entrepreneurs, warned of the difficulties we, as women of the African diaspora, are likely to face in the entrepreneurial adventure.

They also shared their experiences and the pitfalls to be avoided in order to be able to combine a professional activity as an employee with the launch of a business.

Mariam Coulibaly

Miriam Coulibaly

Startop CEO

Mariam Coulibaly is a creative firebrand whose life’s mission is to reveal the potential of women. A proud ambassador of women’s entrepreneurship, she is the co-founder and director of Startop®, the women’s community incubator that guides women towards entrepreneurship and the social economy. With a master’s degree in business management, she has been helping women entrepreneurs design innovative business models since 2011. Her ambition is to make entrepreneurship a tool for professional fulfillment.

Mariam Coulibaly

Nelly Dennene

Co-director of La Maison Turquoise

Nelly Dennene holds a master’s degree in political science, analysis and political theory from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and is co-director and founder of Maison turquoise & sœurs, a social enterprise offering legal, coaching and training services to organizations in the field of collective rights defense. An expert in gender and intersectional analysis integration (ADS+), she was also a political organizer with the Réseau des tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec and Executive Director of the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau Brunswick. Involved in numerous equality-related projects and committed to empowering communities, she helped draft the Université de Moncton’s first-ever policy on sexual violence. Committed to social justice. Nelly campaigns for a safe, inclusive city where the diversity of its citizens is valued.

Sarah Dennene

Sarah Dennene

Lawyer, Co-director of La Maison Turquoise

With a master’s degree in international law, Sarah is a member of the Quebec and New Brunswick Bars, and has acted as an individual lawyer in addition to working for a parapublic advocacy institution. Having worked as a legal advisor in strategic litigation, she has also been responsible for large-scale projects at local, national and international levels, notably in the French-speaking world. She has acted on projects involving stakeholder mobilization around issues of advocacy, systemic claims and public policy development, as well as coordinating international courses and participatory projects. Committed to rights education since the beginning of her career, Sarah has also been a lecturer in the legal sciences department at UQAM. A feminist and community activist, Sarah is past president of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Children’s and Youth Rights Section.

Conference 2: Do you know how to assess your real value on the job market?

“Boss better have my money”


Our 3 speakers, all experts in the field of human resources, answered questions that are essential for successful career advancement:

  • How to assess your value on the job market;
  • How and when to negotiate your salary and career development;
  • How to write your CV strategically.
Sonia Kwemi

Sonia Kwemi

Human resources expert and career coach

With over a decade of experience, Sonia is known for her down-to-earth approach and her ability to put things into layman’s terms. A human resources professional and career coach, she’s a true communicator and unifier at heart.

She navigates with ease in the different environments she works in, with a single idea in mind: to make them healthier, more inclusive and better places to work. She co-founded V&S Services Conseils, a consulting firm specializing in marketing, HR and EDI.

Elsa Tannous

Elsa Tannous

Talent Acquisition Expert

Expert in Human Resources | Talent Acquisition | Career Development

Passionate about talent acquisition, career development and closing the gender gap in new technologies.

She excels in helping companies acquire talent. Her expertise lies in creating effective recruitment strategies, managing recruitment challenges, and optimizing talent retention.

At the same time, she supports individuals and entrepreneurs. She organizes workshops and training courses that enable them to stand out positively on the job market, while building solid, fulfilling career paths.

Bibisha Mbimbi

Bibisha Mbimbi

Entrepreneur and Human Resources expert

Winner of the 2018 InspirationnELLE Young Woman in Human Resources award, she has more than 15 years’ experience in human resources to her credit.

She has developed solid skills in recruitment, skills development and strategic compensation. With women’s entrepreneurship at heart, her life’s mission is to impact and positively influence her community through creative, inclusive and positive leadership. So it was only natural that she decided to get involved by sitting on the Board of Startop®, a women’s community incubator that raises awareness and supports women in entrepreneurship and the social economy.

A hybrid entrepreneur, she works as a freelance HR consultant for NPOs and entrepreneurs. In this capacity, she specializes in total compensation benchmarking studies, advising employers on the strategic management of their human resources and how to make compensation a tool for attracting and retaining talent.

Conference 3: How can you strategically rethink your career plan?


Since it’s vital to have a medium- to long-term vision when it comes to your career, we’ve chosen to invite 3 women with extraordinary backgrounds to share their views. Today’s job market and society are evolving so rapidly that it can seem difficult to anticipate them.

These women have demonstrated through their respective careers that it is possible to reinvent oneself, and proved that it is essential to develop behavioral skills over and above technical ones, in order to have all the keys in hand to achieve one’s career goals!

Khadija Sow

Khadija Sow


After studying at the University of Maryland in the USA and starting her career in accounting, Khadija, also known as Marjorie, decided 3 years ago to start designing personalized cakes on a full-time basis.

With no experience, certification or even capital to start her own business, but guided by the passion she’s had since a very young age, she was able to sell several hundred cakes and open her own pastry shop in the heart of downtown Montreal: Atelier Marjorie.

At just 25 years of age, she now heads a team of 9 employees and is happy to make a living from her passion.

Menelika Bekolo

Menelika Bekolo


Menelika has been working in the energy sector for 15 years, in various capacities, and has a triple background in engineering, management and law.

This rich trio enabled him to shape his career in the energy industry, working on key mandates for the Quebec and Canadian energy systems in particular, but also internationally, providing governments and institutions with recommendations on major projects for their energy systems.

Her background also includes several years in governance, giving her a 360° view of the issues at stake and making her an ideal collaborator when it comes to solving technical and human problems.

Sensitive to the issues of diversity and inclusion, we strive to include these values in all our projects and actions.

Sarra Ghribi

Sarra Ghribi

Entrepreneur, Businesswoman

After starting her professional career in France in marketing and sales. A young, ambitious and visionary entrepreneur, a woman of values and courage, Sarra Ghribi knows how to take risks in business. Determined to change the way women think about their bodies, she has imposed a new business model in the space of eleven years. She has created a new school of thought, that of responsible clothing consumption.

Sarra Ghribi has been recognized on numerous occasions, including by the Congrès maghrébin au Québec, the Réseau des entrepreneurs et professionnels africain, the Grands Prix de la Relève d’Affaires du Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec, the Prix Women inc, Racine and the Assemblée nationale du Québec, to name but a few.

Recap video

Here’s a video of the event, in case you missed it.

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We organize events which aim to showcase the diverse initiatives and creations made by members of the African Diaspora.