Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisette Zounon of Zsquare Solutions Inc and all her many business ventures of Mckinney, TX.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Lisette. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I was 17-year-old, I overheard my mother telling my aunt that she found a lump in her right breast and that she is anxious and awaiting the biopsy exam result. I was worried and scared. Then 30 days later, my mom announces to us as a family that she was going to France for her treatment. Three months later, my dad and I flew to Paris to visit and surprise my mom for the first time after she had completed her chemo and was undergoing post-treatment and radiology. I recall waiting for her alone in the cafeteria of this famous hospital, a cancer center in Paris to surprise her. I was very anxious because I was not sure what to expect. How would she look like? Will, she has her hair, lost weight. It was the longest 45 min of my life. During that hour I was waiting, I saw so many families and patients enter and go out of that hospital and so many Africans and people from around the world. To my great surprise, she was bright, happy and healthy. After that trip, I move to the USA for my studies at the University of Texas in Arlington.
Many years later, having a successful career and leadership roles in several community organizations and not for profit, in 2011, after the birth of my 1st child. I wanted to start giving back to my communities in a different way. So, I joined Susan G Komen Race for the cure. I raised funds then walked the 60 miles in three-day journeys. After that year of planning and fundraising, I was inspired to create my non-profit Zsquare4theCure in 2012. I truly believe the seeds have been planting in my heart on that faithful day January 11th day in 1999 Paris when I was seating and waiting on my mom at that hospital, to start Zsquare4theCure, a breast cancer awareness non-profit whose mission is to Empower, educate women in 4 West Africa rural communities (Benin, Togo Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire) on breast cancer and eradicate the taboos surrounding the disease. The reason why Zsquare4theCure focus is on fighting breast cancer is what I witnessed with my mother being diagnosed with breast cancer after she detected an abnormal lump during a self-breast examination. By the grace of God, she is now a 23 years breast cancer survivor.
The purpose of Zsquare4theCure is to educate, empower women. We believe that by empowering and educating women in rural communities in Africa, we can help reduce the rate of women dying from breast cancer and by extension, solve many other issues in Africa. As goes the famous saying when you educate a woman, you educate a village. Since 2012, I invested funds and time, raised money and successfully held several breast cancer awareness campaigns and activities in Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire where 10,0000 women and young girls benefited from information about breast cancer and Free breast examination. Our goal was to impact 20,000 women by the year 2020. We are slowly chipping away at this goal and are very proud of our progress, especially with all the challenges and resources or lack of support we had. As we leap into a new decade, our mission remains the same, but our 2030 vision goal has expanded to build a world-class breast cancer center in West Africa that will be comprised of 1000 hospital beds to diagnose, treat and support breast cancer patients. Our goal is to complete this massive project by the end of this decade. Fundraisings are a great way to fund Zsquare4theCure. However, we need other sources of revenue and truly impact the population on a bigger scale and reach our 2030 goal — the need to provide Zsquare4theCure with other sources of income led to creating other for-profit businesses. With my 15 years of experience as a software quality leader working for several fortune 100 tech companies, last year I decided to create a consulting firm Zsquare Solutions Inc that helps people and companies improve the quality of their applications with solid tools, simple process, and smart team. With the strong desire to share our love of the motherland Africa and Africans’ cultures, food, beauties, and experiences to our friends in America and all over the world, this new and exciting initiative of Zsquare Adventures was originated.
That is how and when my journey into being an entrepreneur started as a desire to give back to my community and society at large. I have definitely been encouraged to keep going on the path of entrepreneurship after the success of the non-profit.
Has it been a smooth road?
No, it has not been a smooth road at all. Fundraising and scaling have been the most challenging in that aspect that we need to raise enough funds to finance our campaigns. All our projects and endeavors have been mainly founded by me and with friends’ donations. Fundraising has been the most difficult thing for me, I have quit several times, but my team and the mission we are fighting for are worth fighting for and for that reason, I always have to get back to it and continue working hard to meet our goal every year.
We’d love to hear more about all your business endeavors
At this point, I consider myself a serial entrepreneur, so first, my foundation Zsquare4theCure, breast cancer awareness in West Africa. Second, we have a new initiative Zsquare Adventures, a travel experience offered to any American or anyone around the globe interested in visiting and wanting to learn about the motherland, Africa. The travelers will join us to visit three and a 4th country if they choose to. The first three countries guests are offered to visit Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Senegal is added for an additional fee. In all four countries, the guests will follow the slaves’ trade route; immerse themselves in the local culture through food, art shows, and museum visits as well as many other activities while staying at upscale hotel/resort enjoying a relaxing view of the Atlantic ocean beaches during their ten days trip. We believe in traveling for purpose and making an impact in the communities that you are visiting. Therefore, every guest will have the opportunity to participate in our awareness campaigns and get to meet women in their local communities. Any revenue from this initiative will go directly to fund and invest in our 2030 impact goal for Zsquare4theCure.
ZSI- Zsquare Solutions Inc is an IT consulting company that focuses on solving client’s quality challenges in their software delivery. We offer five services including Quality testing consulting, Software QA managed services, User training, Agile transformation, and staff augmentation.
Finally, Zsquare Adventures, our new venture that I am very proud of is one of a kind travel experience that combines traveling to Africa with a purpose. It is an experience that allows the travelers or as we called them “the guests” to connect with local communities and see Africa with their own eyes and have their personal experience to form their own opinions of Africa and see all the opportunities available out there.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Dallas Ft Worth is a great city for entrepreneurs, there are a lot of opportunities here and startup communities are very supportive. I have felt welcomed in the community of entrepreneurs through my networking and felt the encouragement and support from other successful entrepreneurs. If you are into a B2B, there are a lot of business companies in the metroplex, so the opportunities are endless. We are also a very diverse city so that provides a great advantage for our businesses and future growth.
For Zsquare Adventures, for our first travel experience, covering 3 countries for 10 days the cost for individual is $3999, and $2950 for double occupancy. We have a payment plan when a member signs up with a $500 deposit.
Zsquare4theCure is the foundation which mission is to raise awareness about breast cancer in West African rural communities by empowering, educating women about breast cancer and eradicating the social taboo surrounding the disease and in the same line eradicate breast cancer.
Dallas, Texas, USA