It might sound like a cliche but the best advice to other women striving to be entrepreneurs is to never give up. Never stop believing in yourself. It’s easier said than done but always remember that to be successful is to be dedicated. Great things do not come easy.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Menaye Donkor.

Menaye Donkor was born in Toronto, Ontario-Canada. She was brought up by her parents in Accra, Ghana and is the youngest of 7 children. She received her primary education in Ghana and graduated with an Honors degree in Marketing from York University in Toronto, Canada.

After winning Miss Universe Ghana in 2004, Menaye established a career in modeling and moved to New York City. She worked as an editorial model and graced the covers of many well-known magazines in Europe. Modeling opened many doors for Menaye and enabled her to establish many businesses.

Menaye is also a philanthropist and has worked tirelessly for over a decade to improve the lives of women and children in her home country Ghana through the Menaye Charity Organization. In 2004, she established the Menaye School of Hope under this organization and provides free quality basic education and scholarships to rural underprivileged children in Ghana. She is solely responsible for raising funds to support the school with an objective to build Menaye School of Hope in all the 10 regions in Ghana. Menaye has also worked with over 600 Ghanaian children infected/Affected with HIV/AIDS.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for giving me this opportunity!

I always knew I was going to be my own boss but also make a difference in society. Every career path I have chosen had to be meaningful and impactful. I chose to create my own skincare line because I grew up knowing the importance of Shea Butter which was used for almost anything you can think of in my home. My brand SHE-Y, was born from my desire to combine the richness of the highest grade of Shea Butter from my home country, Ghana, with other unique ingredients to create a one of a kind products in the best Italian laboratories. We focus on creating luxury products but still preserves the importance of old traditions. A percentage of proceeds from sales profit goes back into supporting my charity, Menaye Charity Organization, to support underprivileged children of Ghana in the areas of education, health, and girl child development.

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Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I had the opportunity to grow up in three different worlds. Being raised in Ghana exposed me to an abundance of natural resources — many of which are great for our skin. As a Canadian born I embraced diversity and appreciated cosmopolitan lifestyle, and living in Italy gave me a knack for refinement. I tapped into amalgamating these amazing worlds by fusing this beautiful skincare magic called SHE-Y. SHE-Y was birthed through visualizing a true representation of who I am and I am sharing that with the rest of the world.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made at the beginning is to wait for a miracle from God.

Then it hit me that God gave me all the necessary tools to create, work hard, persevere, and take opportunities.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Principally, besides finding the perfect balance between nature and refinement. It’s a brand that tells the story of my home country, Ghana, and how nature’s gift to our country can enhance people’s lifestyle across the world.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I recently launched a feminine hygiene brand called Sincerely. Sincerely is a brand that is built around a lifestyle of confidence and freedom derived from a solid education on menstruation, feminine health and hygiene. The idea behind this project is not only to educate individuals or sell feminine hygiene products but also push the agenda to end period poverty by providing free sanitary pads to young girls/women in the rural areas of Ghana.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Diversity. It enables you to view solutions from a variety of sources. It creates a forum for improved creativity and integrates a wider range of skills. It gives us different unique ways of solving a client’s needs.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

It’s very simple. RESPECT!!! Everyone in your team matters. Giving every employee the opportunity to express themselves in an establishment helps strengthen the core of your business and helps you take swift, intelligent decisions.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have met some amazing people in my life and some of them have contributed to my success in their small little way, but the two most important people who have carved the way for me are my parents. Not only have they invested in my dreams, they have been my biggest cheerleaders from as far as I can remember.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am fortunate enough to be in a position to always give back. I have always felt the need to support the less privileged through my projects. It’s my obligation in life to do this. I have been blessed throughout my life and I feel giving back is a way to thank God for my many blessings. I envision SHE-Y as a brand that becomes synonymous with changing lives. I want to continue to make a difference.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

– Be authentic

– Be flexible to change

– Pay attention to details

– Your health is your wealth

– Take calculated risks

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I already have! Through the Menaye Charity Organization I established the Menaye School of Hope about 11 years ago to educate underprivileged children. It is the most crucial movement now. Women are a vital force in building the future and every nation’s most profound strength lies in the hands of a woman. Ghana has the highest number of female own businesses and that edifying movement has inspired me to continue in that light.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It might sound like a cliche but the best advice to other women striving to be entrepreneurs is to never give up. Never stop believing in yourself. It’s easier said than done but always remember that to be successful is to be dedicated. Great things do not come easy.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Michelle Obama. She is a powerful woman. Not just in societal status, but in her vision. She is a woman who inspires me to have the will to win and the desire to succeed.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Our website:

Instagram: shey_by_menaye