SWAADY MARTIN

Stylish Purveyor of African Luxury

Founder of Yswara

Country: Afropolitan

Sector: African global luxury brand


Swaady Martin,  is founder of YSWARA, a rapidly growing African luxury brand. YSWARA creates elegant, high-end products using the continent’s natural resources, all produced by African artisans. The product range centres around exquisite teas sourced from across Africa, Swaady aims to capture a true spirit of African luxury by reviving Africa’s endangered cultural heritage and unique ancestral craftsmanship. YSWARA is present in 4 countries -- South Africa, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and France -- with 15 different direct and indirect retail points.

Swaady is an inspiring advocate for African women's economic empowerment. So committed is she to this higher cause that she only employs women and seeks to buy her raw materials from women producers.

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Swaady's Startup Story 

This is the startup story of an Afropolitan entrepreneur building a global brand by creating elegant, high-end gourmet lifestyle products using the continent’s natural resources, all produced by African artisans.

Interestingly, Swaady did not come from an entrepreneurial background, but from the age of six years old, she knew she wanted to be in business, a career aspiration she wrote in her diary at the time. At that young age, she had a sense of wanting to be in charge of her own destiny and making an impact in some way. Her sense of social responsibility was instilled by her family who always taught her to make a difference in society and to fight for what is right.  As a young child, she was exposed to the impact of turbulent political situations in Africa, living in Liberia and having to flee the conflict, leaving everything behind.  The impact of war took the family to Senegal and eventually to Cote d’Ivoire, where she was born and where her education started, before political upheaval once again necessitated a move, this time to France, before an eventual move back to Africa. As a result, today Swaady considers herself a true Afropolitan....

Read more about Swaady's startup story →

Everyone loves a little luxury in their lives, and stepping into the fabulous world of Yswara, created by global brand builder Swaady Martin-Leke, is a genuinely luxurious experience. From the exquisite teas sourced from Africa’s finest tea plantations, to the exquisitely designed teaware, to the stunningly beautiful packaging that makes everything feel like a touch of luxury, everything is produced lovingly by Yswara for the customer to enjoy. We simply love it! --- Melanie Hawken, LoA founder and editor-in-chief

What's Yswara all about?

"I wanted to produce a luxury brand that was truly African in origin, nature and tradition. All our products are sourced from Africa and crafted by local craftsmen and artisans, combining traditional techniques with modern designs. YSWARA supports some of Africa’s top creative talents and believe in an authentic African luxury marrying both economics and social values. We call it the LUXE UBUNTU. The Luxe Ubuntu creates economic value in a way that also creates value for the African society at large by addressing its prosperity needs and challenges."

"I tend to create products that I love and tea is my favorite beverage. But I also love chocolate and we have created a beautiful range of organic artisan chocolates made with the finest African cocoa beans."

"The global luxury industry is estimated at $295 billion, growing at 6% per year …. (however) There are still too few African luxury brands to take advantage of this opportunity. Hence there’s a need for more global African authentic luxury brands."

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Awards & Accolades

Swaady's awards and honours include:

  • 2014 - Swaady is nominated as an Emerging Leader by the Aspen Institute France under the patronage of President François Hollande
  • 2012 - Swaady is nominated a member of the invite-only African Leadership Network 
  • 2012 - Swaadie is nominated to the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship Programme
  • 2012 - Swaady is named one of Forbes Magazine's 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa