Mich (as Anni affectionately calls her) and Anni, founders of Mana, knew from the moment they met that they were destined to work on a project of significance. When, where, and how were always pending questions, but not having the answers wasn’t going to stop their quest. Because they are both humanitarians at heart, for years, they bounced around different ideas about how to disseminate, replicate, and scale social entrepreneurship.
Mich and Anni, though worlds apart, both have similar memories of trauma and survival. Many of these memories only manifested in their adult lives. Through their bond, shared stories, and honest expressions of desperation and hope, Anni and Mich learned how to (remotely) hold each other close. This “soul” connection, this love for another very different human created the communion and the connection. It was their superpower — the power, Mana, that is believed to weave together women all over the world.
In 2019, Anni invited Michelle to address South Africa Women President Org members who would travel to the annual conference, which was planned for April 2020. Due to COVID, Montreal did not happen, but the workshop went ahead virtually. It was during these three hours that Michelle felt the heaviness of the desperation of these South African women in business. Their pain and challenges in mid-April were raw and real. They were facing impossible decisions about their staff, their businesses, and their lives.
For weeks after the workshop, the tangible reality of the pain and concern in these women played over and over in the minds of Mich and Anni. They finally got on a Zoom call with the realization that this was the project of significance they had been waiting for. This was their purpose. That was all they needed, and they devised a solution and a plan for action. From this, Mana was born. Mana, as Mich was taught in Hawai’i, describes the global essence of our interconnected reality. We are all connected, despite the borders, the distance, or our masks.
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