Because being alive means sharing”: Solange Akoua has taken the Orange Côte d’Ivoire Télécom Foundation’s motto to heart.
Hired in 2001 in Abidjan by the Orange Group, which has over 1,300 employees and manages 7.5 million customers, Solange started the accounts department before joining the finance department six years later. On average, she makes around 800 invoice payments a month to 1,000 regular suppliers. “By paying a supplier, I sort out a problem and have the satisfaction of upholding my company’s commitments”, explains Solange, who draws on her childhood values.
"Take your turn to help others"
During primary school, she lived in the Boukani region in the north east of the country - an area where the local population makes a living out of growing cashew nuts. To help her fulfil her dream of becoming an accountant, her parents sent the 13-year old to stay with a family in Dabou 600 km away where she was able to further her education at the school where the head of the family was the headmaster “I only saw my family during summer holidays but I didn’t complain as I saw this as an opportunity my six brothers and sisters - who only completed primary school - never had”. It is all about how you choose to see things! She qualified as an accountant in 1997 after attending the “École Pratique de la Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie” of Ivory Coast but she never forgot her family’s dedication and help: “When you owe your success to the willingness of your parents, you must always be hopeful and take your turn to help others”.
Her chance to help came in April 2005 when she learned that her former primary school in Bobé had gone up in flames during the dry season. “For three years the children continued to study in terrible conditions; many dropped out completely”, remembers Solange who moved heaven and earth to raise money. She received 40 million CFA (61,000 Euros) from the Orange Côte d’Ivoire Télécom Foundation. Result: in September 2011, the school rose from its ashes with six newly equipped classrooms located in a new building and another renovated building. The new school welcomes children but also women from the village who are taking literacy courses. A double victory for Solange who, in Abidjan, is responsible for the education of fifteen children: her own (two), her husband’s and her nieces and nephews. What a classy lady!
Portrait by Nouara Benaï