Paris, France > Lausanne, Switzerland > Copenhagen, Denmark > Lund, Sweden

This year, as I’ve mentioned I plan to take Ayiba to a new level and be as daring as I was when I decided to create a global African online magazine fresh out of undergrad at the age of twenty-one. To kickstart this resolution, I planned a European Tour for Ayiba. The opportunity came up when I was invited to attend the Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland as an influencer and media sponsor. Once I decided to accept the Swiss invite, it made sense to make the most of my time in Europe. So I added Paris to my itinerary since it is a city I’m very familiar with and had so many entrepreneurs and influencers that I had been connecting with on Twitter and Instagram who I was interested in meeting. I also wanted to choose another place that I had never been to, somewhere outside of my comfort zone. So I looked a little north and chose to explore Scandinavia with a visit to Denmark and Sweden.

Now, that my destinations were chosen, I had to figure out how I was going to afford two full weeks in Europe’s most expensive cities keeping in mind that this was also a business trip, not just a vacation. This is where having friends all over really helped. I only spent two of the thirteen nights of my trip in a hotel, the rest of the time, I stayed with friends. In Paris, where I spent a week, I was lucky to have my friend’s apartment all to myself as she was out of the country. That made it really easy for me to work when and how I needed. I spent my time in France and Switzerland working, while Denmark and Sweden was more of the vacation.

WHO I MET

Imane Ayissi

I reached out to Imane Ayissi as a fan of his career and work. He was kind enough to host and style me at his Paris atelier, as well as offer clothing for our Afropolitan Diary shoot with YouTubers, Almost Parisienne.

Almost Parisienne

via ytCropper

After watching a few of the videos on YouTube, I reached out and asked them to collaborate on an Afropolitan Diary video. Watch full episode here.

Jacqueline Ngo Mpii

Little Africa reached out to Ayiba last year with a press release on their newly published travel guide, which shows off the most interesting African spots and neighbourhoods in Paris. I reached out to Jacqueline to meet in person. She was busy working on a Little Africa popup for Galeries Lafayette’s Africa Now event, which I was able to enjoy in stores as you can see in the video above. She also introduced me to a Senegalese brunch spot in Puteaux, where I enjoyed live Senegalese music and vibrant community of patrons.

Nelly Wandji, MoonLook

I have followed Moonlook World for a few years on Instagram. When I saw the founder, Nelly Wandji, was opening a space in Paris, I decided to reach out to her and set up a visit. She was kind enough to give me a private tour and tell me about her mission.

Momo Bampoka, Viana Photography

I connected with Momo through a friend of a friend and upon seeing his Instagram feed, knew I had to shoot with him. He shot the cover of our 18th issue and gave me a gorgeous new profile pic.

EntreprenHER Tour

I met Victoria Fontaine and Sonia Aoula through the Seedstars Network. We met up in Paris and also enjoyed the Seedstars Summit together. The two co-founders of EntreprenHer Tour, realizing that the reality behind the word entrepreneurship was blurry and that there was a lack of communication around female models, decided to create an association that promotes women entrepreneurship among students.

Bob Collymore

Chatting with Vodacom CEO at Ayiba media room, Seedstars Summit Lausanne.

Bob Collymore is the CEO of Vodacom in Kenya. Vodacom is the telecom company known for launching M-Pesa, a mobile money service which over 40% of Kenya’s GDP flows through.

On this trip, one thing I learned was to use my network. I asked for introductions, reached out confidently to new people, and was surprised at how many people were open to collaborating or at least starting the conversation. I made great connections and established a few new partnerships. Can’t wait to share them in upcoming posts.

TRAVEL TIPS

  • Sometimes, when traveling, I rely on the benevolence of Starbucks cafes and public wifi networks. But for this solo business trip, it made sense for me to get a local number as I had a full schedule of meet-ups. When I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport I bought an Orange mobile line, which came with 2GB of data and roamed free anywhere in Europe. It was 40 EUR for my entire stay and worth every cent. Of course, I have an unlocked phone, which made buying an international sim possible.
  • in Paris, the 7-day Navigo pass (EUR 27), which includes metro (subway), RER trains, and buses through all zones including suburbs of Paris was the best deal on transportation. There is a 3-day pass for EUR 52, which takes you to the exact same places as the 7-day pass. I have no idea why it costs twice as much, but make sure to get the 7-day pass even if your trip is shorter. I also used Uber a few times, which was convenient and affordable as expected.