Meet Neusa SousaNeusa Sousa is a social entrepreneur who founded, and is now the CEO, of Afro Beauty Tea (Chá de Beleza Afro) and a content producer of the program Welcome to RTP Africa (Conteúdos do Bem-Vindos). She is currently studying towards her Masters’ degree in Women’s Studies, focusing on Women in Society and Culture, at the University of Lisbon.
Neusa also keeps busy by investing her time as a gender activist promoting empowerment of African women and Afro-descendants. Afro Beauty Tea is a networking platform that aims to promote and empower African and Afro-descendant women in various spheres of society. Through events, debates and conversation cycles, functioning as a movement of connection, offering opportunities and inspiration among all genders, through events, conversation cycles and stories of challenges and success. Its motto is : “Inspire and be the source of inspiration“.
In 2022 Neusa launched the afroteacast, a podcast that aims to bring various topics such associetal issues, question of africanityand pan-africanism, and capitalism. The aim is to spur debate and constructive conversations around such urgent matters.
On reflecting on the situation in Portugal, Neusa Sousa states that “here in the diaspora African women are still searching for their place. Unfortunately, many of us are still at the base of the pyramid and the system ends up not giving them enough access to be able to leave this base”. Therefore, the Afro Beauty Tea has served as a platform for connections, especially for women of colour, allowing them to learn skills for advancing in their careers or even starting it from zero. It is designed as a safe haven to give voice and space for women to discuss and share their concerns and struggles; functioning as inspiration for the organisation’s projects and goals.
“ Dream don’t have limits”
Neusa highlights that she thinks fear is unfortunately a big component of a women’s life, and when it comes to black women she feels that such fear like judgement and prejudices are more present and passed on through generations. This fear can indeed represent an obstacle when it comes to pursuing such dreams. Her motivation to address such challenges are inherently personal. Her own experiences have led her to believe that working with the Social Enterprise tech community is a move forward to help women of colour and vulnerable groups to make a change.
Neusa believes that by organising workshops to teach and share skills, it empowers and mobilizes previously underrepresented and vulnerable groups. Topics included in the workshops are mental health matters, social media marketing, accessing healthcare and financial support.
A challenge that Neusa also shares is the expectations given by gender bias. She states that women of colour face an increased amount of prejudice and bias, making it difficult to reach out for funding and access job opportunities. For example, when she started building her Afro Beauty Tea, she struggled with external support as sponsors were not inclined to offer loans and help.
“Unfortunately, African women have always had, and continue to have integration problems. In this patriarchal society, it is harder for women to hold decision-making positions. A lot of men are not happy to see female-only spaces/events, so they would not support us and also devalue what has been shared between women.”
Even though the process of creating a space for women of colour was not easy, Neusais is proud of what she has achieved so far.
With the project Afro Beauty Tea, Neusa plans to make the project the largest women’s afro-entrepreneurship and networking event in Portugal. She also hopes to make a greater impact and influence within Europe and bringher project to a more international level. Specifically, she wants to take the project to Africa and other Portuguese-speaking countries and bring aid to those who are in need.
Neusa wants to show other black communities that women can also produce an income, the so-called “black women money” as she defines it. Women can give back to the community in many ways not only as mothers, but taking on the role as provider too. Neusa kindly shares her advice for the younger generation. She says to keep trying even when no results are seen straight away. Somewhere in this world ,someone has benefited from what you did,not seeing it does not mean that it was not meaningful. Therefore, it is important to pursue and work for one’s dreams and projects. Furthermore, Neusa emphasised again the importance for women to unite and work together. Unity is the base-stone for cooperation and change-making for the future.