Startup Challenge Semifinalist: IYALI

ILAYI logo
IYALI team photo

Team Leader:
Olatomide (Tomide) Awe, WG’17
Team Members:
Loujeine Boutar, W’19
Sonali Dane, C’19

elevator pitch: IYALI is a lifestyle brand that creates high-quality african-inspired handbags made by local artisans for individuals around the globe. A portion of our profits addresses the root of poverty in West Africa by supporting education of girls in the region.

Where did the idea for your venture come from?
The idea for IYALI began to form when I returned to Nigeria after my studies in the UK. Following the number of weddings I attended, I became more aware of the beauty of my culture, as well as our tribal fabrics used during weddings. I became intrigued by what could be done with our traditional wear, other than wearing them the way they were intended to be worn. With this idea on the fringes of my mind, I came to business school and developed an interest in the plight that the girl child faced not only in the western world but also in Africa and other parts of the world. Being a citizen of Nigeria, a country in West Africa, it became a mission of mine to use my available skills to alleviate the situation and a combination of these ideas gave birth to IYALI.

How will your venture change the world?
IYALI will change West Africa first, and then the world by keeping the issue of girls education at the forefront of our minds as consumers. We will also put our money where our mouth is by actively keeping girls in school with a portion of our profits. When 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3% and we hope to advocate for this change in the region.

Fun Facts:

  • Tomide: I’m a certified sailor.
  • Loujeine: I volunteered at the Miami Open as a staffing member (and saw Nadal!).
  • Sonali: I love criminology: any irrational behavior like crime & terrorism is super fascinating to me.

Come to the Startup Showcase to see the best student entrepreneurs from across Penn demo their companies and compete for cash and prizes to launch their startups! 

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