Laetitia Massa -Tosala The Network of Social Progress
Hello Laetitia Massa we are delighted to have you as our guest of the page Vis versa, a page a dedicated to the societal innovation, and the interaction to help each other. Flashmag: Can you introduce yourself to Flashmag readers? Who is Laetitia Massa? LaetitiaMassa: I’m Laetitia Massa, my biography is a bit of a career shift, I began my life as a lawyer in Belgium where I studied law, then I studied marketing and communication and I have always been passionate about technology, in fact I studied law technology I somehow returned to my first love creating apps, so I made a first application that allows people to buy real estate online, to deal with the increasingly high cost in this field here in Brussels. And it allowed me to buy my own apartment. I did it and it was a success that surprised me, going beyond what I expected, I actually won a prize through this platform, and then I wanted to continue on the same path, so I created a marketing and consulting company in application development and I build applications to solve a number of problems, for group of people such as lawyers, and then a few months ago I created this application with the aim to meet the problem of lack of economic opportunity for African and this how was born Tosala Flashmag: What does the term Tosala means in Lingala? Which I think is your local language? LaetitiaMassa: Well, yes and no I was born in Belgium and unfortunately my native language is not an African language, but Tosala means we do act in Lingala, which is a democratic Congo language where I come from, it is a language I practice very slightly but that I understand enough, well I went a little bit out of Facebook and I realized that people who were aware of the problems that were facing the black diaspora around the world were talking about this issue , the economic power was at the center of concerns. So I thought it was time to do something, so I put on the foot this platform in the intend to facilitate trade. Flashmag: How It WorksTosala? LaetitiaMassa: in fact it is a more basic application that allows Africans to connect based on their talent and skills; everyone has a skill to do something everyone knows something regardless of certificates and degree we have, it was necessary to connect African depending on what they can do. It's pretty simple you connect on the platform you create your profile, you indicate things for which you are competent, and when a person needs some skills in your field you are automatically notified to possibly lend a hand, and this request of skills can be either free if one is in a non-profit organization or paid. It can also be a join venture to become part of a corporation or a partnership where people encounter, because they need to come together for a project. Like everything it’s based on the skills. Tosala lets you list your skills, but also to really showcase them and if you have already put a foot in your skills you can actually monetize them directly in Tosala, actually creating your own store such as this designer, and teacher who has registered very recently and opened an online clothing store, and already she sells items online.
Flashmag: Some find your initiative, is solely focused on the black community, and accuse you of communitarianism what do you say? Laetitia Massa: I tell them that yes, I do not hide it I have become accustomed in all my applications that I created so far, to address a problem from the group of persons who faced the frustration. To help those who knew the frustration to work together to solve the problem without waiting for outside help, it was the case with the first application for real estate buyers, as in this application realtors were excluded it was just real estate purchasers who had difficulties to find offers at their request, the same for lawyers, clients were excluded from the network as well as the judges. Regarding Tosala, it aims to establish an African economic fabric. I really started Tosala after the results of a study that was conducted in the United States and which said very simply that the welfare of members of a community is directly proportional to the number of economic exchanges between the members of this community and this study very simply stated that once the money goes into a community such as Hispanic and Asian, it flows and bounces 7 times before getting out of the community in the Arab-Muslim community money circulates and bounces 13 times within this community before going out, and in the Jewish community money circulates and bounces 18 times before exiting and this study said that for the African or Afro descendant community there is a worldwide a problem, since there is no trade within this community, confirming the extreme dependence of African members vis-à-vis of other communities. This situation leaves the door open to all kinds of mischief, such as discrimination in employment and others, partly due to the fact that African have not created African Alternatives to the discrimination they experience. Asian Hispanic Arabs or Jews necessarily do not live less discrimination but they had the presence of mind to build an economic fabric so that even if they were facing certain forms of discrimination, they had others options by giving themselves alternatives. What Africans have not done so far? So what I concluded that I had to startbuilding an economic fabric. So I decided I was going to start consuming African goods first. In fact when we want to eat we go to the store, to get a product we give money to someone who takes that money and invest it elsewhere. What make people rich isnot necessarily to give a helping hand when you need an item or other piece of furniture but rather to create wealth, something that Africans do not always do, but they nevertheless have some more solidarity in the field of assistance without profit. However on Tosala there are volunteers and economic projects,as well as the endorsement of causes all the people on Tosala may join together to advocate for a cause. But the basic of Tosala is to enable Africans to empower themselves economically. Flashmag:In the black community living in the West, how was greeted your initiative? LaetitiaMassa: Extremely well, I mean in the African community who reads a lot, who is very aware about information and very awake actually on the phenomena that undermine the progress of the community. They welcomed it with great happiness and joy. Anyways very quickly the platform peeled off. I didn’t speculate on that, but the demand was stronger than what I expected Flashmag: You are more based in Europe specifically in Belgium do you have the ambition to expand a little bit more your activity to Africa and the Americas where the black diaspora is important? Laetitia Massa: Actually the initiative has really exceeded and from the early days there were Africans, from America, Caribbean, Europe, everywhere even those in Asia. Tosala is already present almost everywhere. It's true Tosala is in a first language, which is French, but the idea is to extend it to other languages to match the evolution of the platform and its resources Flashmag: Also what are the relations with Africa Tosala, if in the West, Africans have more ease of access to tools, do Africans in Africa are interested in your initiative? LaetitiaMassa: Exactly as much as African in Europe, I do not necessarily agree that Africans in Europe have more easy access, I think it's a cliché Flashmag: yet they seem to have access more comfortably to some tools such as communications? LaetitiaMassa: Yes it may seem that we hear that the access is more comfortable but since everything has to be paid with prices more and more less affordable, while things are not shared here in Europe, there is a certain segment of the African population here in Europe, who is quite impoverished, without access to certain things; in any case in Belgium and France, and what I see in addition, concerning the most active user beyond France and Belgium since these countries are the Francophone flagship, there is enormously West Africans users that are really active and present on the platform. I can note that Africa does not wait Flashmag: When is the version in other languages are going to be available, including the Anglophone community which is quite important? LaetitiaMassa: It's certainly one of our priority as I said I had not anticipated the success of the platform so for now we have some priorities, but the next priority in the weeks and months ahead, it’s an English version first, and then we will focus on African languages, and we have a lot of people willing to do this work on the platform is our way of doing, we start by ourselves we have a number of African languages skills in the platform. Flashmag: Yourself as promoter of Tosala do you gain something in return or is it just a charity? LaetitiaMassa: As a promoter I earn money too, I will say honestly I cannot advocate exchanges between African and decide that the platform is free, therefore, I have to try to be consistent with myself and I also try to consume as much as possible on the platform, from the producers and others but I earn the most when seeing hatch exchanges between Africans, I have had a little more chance than the majority of Africans. Faced with the difficulties I encountered I have the means and capital for things to be different and to make it more broadly I see it is necessary to come together my goal is to be able to make large projects with Africans, I am not in the model of association without lucrative goals, but in Holdings model and I know that at the rate we're going, we can do it and that's why Tosala is not free and it is also as a kind of filter between people who really have a real desire to do business than others who are simply curious and want to check if it works. Flashmag: When you invest money in Tosala what guarantee do you have? LaetitiaMassa: Tosala is a service where people pay their subscription for intelligent connections they would not have had otherwise there is 3 things you can do in Tosala • List your skills and create your opportunities in the world • Demonstrate your skills by putting them online at the right time and right place • directly Monetize your skills and create on online store at an unbeatable price. Including that someone who registered in Tosala has access to a series of services that are not necessarily available elsewhere especially Facebook or LinkedIn do not really address this kind of service to Africans available between 15 and 35 euro per year, 1-3 euro per month Flashmag: And when you monetize your skills how do you touch your winnings? Laetitia Massa: Well, it's like any online stores actually as a user you can decide to have a shop or not, and when you open your store you decide the terms of payment and delivery. Flashmag: Why did you think the most suitable way was to rely on the internet? Laetitia Massa: In fact we have a registered office is in Belgium we found that the Internet was the most even solution to meet our expectations for reaching the global community more efficiently neither they nor us will suffer the consequences an office open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. Meanwhile the physical meeting will take place more and more, we invite people to communicate via video conference and we are generally present at fairs and market here in Brussels Flashmag: We used to say a life without cause is a life without effect, what are the ideals of Laetitia Massa how she hopes to contribute to a better world? LaetitiaMassa: Well good question first I created a series of platforms for people who are disadvantaged in the system in which we live, therefore I create applications to facilitate their daily, and in relation to Africa I tend to do on anything that will help to raise the motherland completely that’s my workhorse and obviously I'm more focused on economic solutions to our problems. I remain convinced that if Africa has been attacked every time for several centuries and continues to be today, it's much more for economic reasons and so it's through the economy that we can address the problems that are ours, and defeat once for good our opponents, do better than what we did during the independences and voilà this is my fight Flashmag: besides www.tosala.org is Laetitia working on another project? Laetitia Massa: I’m always working on something Flashmag:At the conclusion of this interview do you have a word to the public? LaetitiaMassa: Yes First thank you for your attention on Tosala, and to the public I want to tell them undertake, it is essential to undertake to be the change we wish to see in the world, its classic but each must be an engine. To the African diaspora I told them we must meet, to Africans in Africa I say, see you soon preferably first on Tosala may be kisses later. Thank you again Flashmag: Laetitia Massa Thank you for this cordial meeting and good luck.
Interview Realized by Hubert Marlin Elingui Jr.