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News 2 > Global Student Prize - Finalists > 2023 Finalists Global Student Prize > Mame Maty Mrs

Mame Maty Gning

Mame was born in Senegal and moved to Italy with her family when she was just four years old. However, it was not until she visited Senegal again at the age of 13 that she saw and understood the realities of the poverty there and the huge disparity between rich and poor. This gave her the determination to study hard so that she could one day use her education to help improve the condition of her country. Today, Mame considers her main objectives in life to be the fight against racism and helping African people to gain back their freedom.

Living in Italy as an Italian-African Black girl, the main challenges that Mame has had to overcome are racism and discrimination. In her experience, many teachers – and sometimes even school systems – believe that Black students lack intellect or that they are less capable than their White peers. This is something that accompanies Black students throughout their whole school journey, from primary school to university. Regrettably, some come to the point of accepting this and stop believing in themselves. However, Mame has always picked herself up and moved forward from discouragement, and she continues to inform people about the uphill struggle of fighting racism in Italy on her personal social media pages.

Mame’s career as an entrepreneur started when her 11th grade class took part in a Junior Achievement program to introduce students to the world of entrepreneurship. In partnership with a classmate, Mame won third prize in the provincial competition and two third places in other competitions. She then took part in the Girls in STEM competition promoted by JA Italy and Coca Cola, becoming one of the five winners nationwide. Building on this experience, Mame and her classmate then decided to launch ValeU, a business that focuses on producing and selling hijabs and ethnic West African clothes. ValeU was created principally for the West African and Muslim communities in Italy, in order to show them that they are not alone – that they are represented as a community and as a culture. It accomplishes this by giving them clothing options that are otherwise difficult to find in Italy. For this project, Mame and her classmate received the second best startup award and the social impact award in a competition run by the University of Bergamo – achieving something that they didn’t believe was possible as high school students.

If Mame wins the Global Student Prize 2023, she will use the prize funds to develop the ValeU project and make it even more socially impactful – first within Italy, but then in other countries too. She will also use some of the funds to finance her future studies at the University of Toronto in Canada, in order to have a position that will enable her to make a real change, especially in Africa.



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