French journalist-turned-entrepreneur Marie Lora-Mungai was told as a child that she could do anything she wanted in life and she certainly did that. Aged 24, she made a bold decision to give up a career in New York to make it on her own in Africa despite not having a connection to the continent. This didn’t stop Marie, who has set up several media businesses since 2008 and runs Restless Global, a company that produces film and television projects for an international audience.
Co-creator of hit The XYZ Show and one of Forbes France’s top women to watch, Marie can also be seen at motivational events telling her story of her rise to the top in the hopes of inspiring more to follow her path.
She said: “When I was 24, I had been a journalist at CNN's New York bureau for a couple years. It had been a great experience, but I was starting to feel restless. I had an urge to be in the field and tell some big stories. So I gave up my life in New York to move to Nairobi as a freelance correspondent.”
“For 4 years I covered 15 countries for AFP TV, Reuters TV, the BBC World Service and CNN. I was able to witness first-hand the tremendous growth and dynamism of the continent, 10 years before the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative caught on.”
In Nairobi, Marie met with cartoonist Gado and together they set up production company Buni Media and created political satire show The XYZ Show, inspired by Spitting Image and Les Guignols de L’info. The hit show is now in its 12th season.
An impressive feat for someone so young. Marie credits her parents’ encouragement for her passion and drive to make it happen and believes that more needs to be done to empower women so they can excel in business.
“My parents always told me that I could do anything that I wanted in life, and growing up I wanted to be a writer, a designer, an archaeologist and a detective,” Marie said.
“I think that the main problem is still the way that women are brought up and the type of messages they grow up hearing. Still today, women are brought up to be more risk-averse than men, less adventurous, less ambitious, and less aggressive in the pursuit of their goals.”
However these attributes are crucial for becoming an entrepreneur: ambition, passion and a sense of adventure.
“For me entrepreneurship is about creating your own opportunities, imagining your dream job and your dream life and channelling your energy in order to achieve it,” Marie added.
Named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2017, Marie has now become a digital nomad and works across Africa, Europe and the United States.
Her advice: “Entrepreneurship is both a marathon and a roller-coaster. You have to be able to stay the course and survive the lows to enjoy the highs. So plan for it, manage your energy, and take care of yourself. Sleep, eat well, exercise, put money aside for the rainy days, and build strong friendships because those will be your support system when things get tough.”