The Gambia, Senegal welcome illustrious daughters

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Utopia Spa and Global Wellness based in Durham, North Carolina, USA partnered with The Gambia’s Woman Boss, a female-focused entrepreneurship accelerator, to host retreat in Senegal and The Gambia:

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(Utopia SGW), formerly Spa Utopia Inc was founded by Naya F. Powell in 2021. Initially, the company provided on-demand wellness services for businesses and corporations. After a pandemic pivot, it relaunched as a business-to-business digital wellness subscription platform addressing global burnout, and the future of work. Now they have taken it a step further by organizing global destination retreats. The Senegal and Gambia eight-day retreat will be its first on the continent.  Below we had a chat with Naya as she tells us a bit more about her inspiration and motivation in organizing such an event in Senegal and Gambia.

How did the Africa retreat come about?

A few years back, Awamary Khan, founder and CEO of The Woman Boss (based in the Gambia), was working with Black entrepreneurs in Durham, North Carolina. She also founded North Carolina’s Black Entrepreneurship Week (BEW). Her work with Shaw University’s Innovation Center positioned her on the same street as Red Hat, and our paths crossed. Through collaboration, we fostered a true friendship born out of a mutual passion for entrepreneurship. Hosting a retreat together was a natural progression. We secured a line-up of amazing speakers who are also women that share our vision for empowering other women in the entrepreneurial and corporate leadership space. This initiative resulted in a global press CNBC feature highlighting our social impact collaboration.

Who will take part in this retreat?

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Naya: From October 14-23, 2022, fourteen African-American women CEOs, executives, investors, and thought leaders will ascend from around the globe to Escape, Elevate, Enrich, and be Empowered at our inaugural Utopia Spa & Global Wellness Retreat in Senegal and The Gambia. I serve as a global mentor and Advisory Board member to The Woman Boss (TWB) founded by Awamary Khan. In The Gambia, we will extend the opportunity for our Utopia Global Wellness Retreat guests to meet, mentor, and do business with this amazing community of founders.

What was your motivation in bringing the retreat to Africa this year?

Naya: I wanted to curate an experience to promote self-care and cultural enrichment around the African diaspora, investment opportunities, women’s empowerment, and social impact – in collaboration with Gambia-based non-profit, The Woman Boss (TWB). While there, we will spend time at TWB and Innovate Gambia headquarters. Utopia retreat attendees and I will participate in an entrepreneurship panel, followed by speed mentoring sessions with entrepreneurs of TWB. They will meet, learn and ask questions of our retreat attendees, who are entrepreneurs and executives in the U.S. Additionally, this offers mentorship matchmaking.

Finally, we will end the day at TWB with a curated market allowing us to shop with these brilliant women entrepreneurs and invest in their endeavors in real time. We will also extend some social activities for further relationship-building with our sisters across the globe.

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Alaba: Who made the speakers list?

Naya: Our Speakers are Global Thought Leaders and Wellness Innovators from various countries. They include:

1). Naya F. Powell, Founder + CEO, Utopia Spa and Global Wellness Number #1 Best Selling Author, North Carolina, USA.

2). Awamary Khan, Founder + CEO, The Woman Boss and Innovate Gambia, Banjul, The Gambia and Malaga, Spain.

3). Khadijah Aja Tambajang, Founder & Lead Consultant, MakalliMatta Consulting and Co-owner, NewDay Media, The Gambia.

4). Aminata Mbaye, Chief of Staff- Sigma Gamma Rho, Planning and Strategy  Consultant, Dakar, Senegal.

5). Dee C. Marshall, CEO, Diverse & Engaged, LLC, Co-Host of Brown Table Talk, New Jersey, USA

6). Koren Bowman, Founder + CEO, KU Real Estate Group, Owner, Keller Williams North Carolina, USA .

7). Kimmi Troy, Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor, Wellness Advocate Indiana, USA.

What would you like the takeaway for this retreat to be for the ladies?

Naya: The Utopia Retreat Experience was curated for women across the African diaspora to return to the continent and connect with our rich history while providing the opportunity to escape, elevate, enrich and empower whilst doing good. I would like for the women to leave Senegal and The Gambia feeling inspired to deeper reconnect with their sisters and brothers on the continent as a whole and to see the great economic opportunities on the continent. Above all, I would like each and everyone of them to take a piece of Senegal and The Gambia with them and educate their friends, family and community about this great continent we were all taken away from.

Originally published by NEXT Newspaper



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