For Fatoumata Jaiteh ’19, women's health is deeply personal: “Women literally bring life and order into this world, yet we face many disparities in health and life.” As the founder of the lifestyle brand Muso Makoi, she saw an opportunity to change the narrative.
“Muso Makoi” means “support, help, empower women” in Mandinka, reflecting her company’s mission to promote health equity around the world. Muso Makoi offers handmade products inspired by Sene-Gambian culture, with a personal touch – some are even crafted by Jaiteh’s grandma’s next-door neighbors.
“I saw a tailor making these beautiful bags,” she explained. “I wanted to develop a product aligned with my mission – to aid women, fund the nonprofit I started at St. Thomas, and raise global awareness for women’s health issues.”
But Muso Makoi offers much more than handcrafted bags. Rather it’s a brand that ties together fashion and storytelling with a greater mission to support women’s health.
Driven by a belief in the common good
Jaiteh joined the inaugural gBETA cohort at St. Thomas with a clear goal – to create a business positively impacting women in The Gambia and beyond. She found a supportive community of mentors and peers in the program, gaining the confidence to inspire change and launch Muso Makoi. “If you have a business idea, there are so many great resources at the Schulze School and a culture of collaboration among different disciplines.”
With each bag sold, a portion of profits from Muso Makoi are donated to From Mother to You, the parent organization she founded as an undergraduate student at St. Thomas, supporting women’s health initiatives in West Africa.
“The bags are fashionable and practical,” Jaiteh explained. “They’re used by new and expecting mothers, are versatile for work, school, or to shop sustainably at local markets.” However her customers choose to use their bags, she hopes they’re conversation starters on improving women’s health.
Education, empowerment and advocacy
In the past year, she’s focused on the narrative storytelling within her brand, featuring women’s personal experiences on health, self-care, and preventive health in videos on social media.
Using her background in public health and nursing, Jaiteh hopes to eventually transform Muso Makoi into a holistic space where women can access resources, find support, and draw inspiration for their health and well-being.
Fatoumata Jaiteh ’19
I want to help build a world where women uplift and care for each other. To create a network of support to overcome obstacles and reach our full potential.