Judith Cendrine Sassou Nguesso, also known as J.Cendrine Sassou, is a trailblazer in the world of African entrepreneurship. She started her business career in 2000 at the young age of 27, with the founding of Sunrise, a company specializing in the distribution of food and beverages in the wholesale segment in Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo Brazzaville. Pointe-Noire, a port city and oil industry hub, was the perfect location for J.Cendrine to start her company as it was considered the economic capital of the Congo Brazzaville and a gateway for the entire country.
J.Cendrine’s strategic decision to start her business in Pointe-Noire paid off, and she was able to grow her business nationwide. In 2001, she acquired a storage facility for wholesale food and beverage products and expanded her wholesale business. In 2003, she added a new venture to her portfolio with the opening of the Twiga Boutique Hôtel, a 15-room hotel with a gym club. The hotel was equipped with four restaurants: Twiga Restaurant on the Pool Side, Twiga on the Beach, Twiga Pizzeria, and Twiga Brasserie. The name Twiga, which means “giraffe” in Swahili, was chosen by J.Cendrine to pay homage to the widespread use of the language across East Africa and beyond.
The Twiga Boutique Hôtel and its accompanying restaurants allowed J.Cendrine to better understand and improve the processes between suppliers and buyers, helping her to build her brand and reach a larger audience and market share. In 2006, J.Cendrine opened her first supermarket, Sunrise Supermarket, which was one of the largest locations in the city. The supermarket, with its 1300 square meters of space, offered almost 2000 different products, including a coffee shop, a kid’s corner, an ice cream corner, a pizza corner, and a food & beverage corner. J.Cendrine was the first young female entrepreneur in Congo Brazzaville to operate such a business, competing with French and Lebanese conglomerate companies while importing nearly 90% of all food and beverage supplies.
Sourcing her supplies was a huge challenge for J.Cendrine. She traveled the world negotiating with potential partners in Asia, Europe, and the Americas to find the best prices and quality products for her consumers. Her persistence and hard work paid off, and she became the first Congolese-born female to operate a consumer retail and wholesale business of such scale. J.Cendrine’s experience as a hotel and restaurant owner allowed her to understand the needs of the hospitality industry and she quickly became a one-stop wholesale solution for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.
In 2009-2010, J.Cendrine decided to expand her restaurant business to the capital of Congo, Brazzaville. She signed a Private-Public partnership to open an urban brasserie, a classical restaurant Terminalia downtown Brazzaville, which had a 60-seat outside garden space and a 90-seat indoor space. The Terminalia restaurant was located on the Congo river and quickly became an iconic location. The restaurant was renovated and reopened in 2021 as a more luxury and sophisticated place with a new concept and improved quality service.
In 2018, J.Cendrine started an additional company, “Capital Sourcing and New Investments,” to create a joint venture with the French company Servair France, one of the best French catering companies that provide catering, food, and beverages on board airplanes for companies such as AirFrance, Ethiopia Airlines, and other air flight operators. J.Cendrine’s vision for this partnership was to diversify her investments and share risks with other companies.
In addition, J.Cendrine is the first female Congolese who have a private jet company Jet Service Executive. The company operates 5 aircrafts, Falcon 500, Challenger, and other types of planes. The Jet Service Executive operates successfully private jets for 5 years servicing clients worldwide. Today J.Cendrine’s success in the business world can be attributed to her hard work, determination, and innovative mindset. Despite the challenges she faced, she never let anything stand in her way and continued to push herself to new heights. Her passion for the food and beverage industry, combined with her entrepreneurial spirit, allowed her to create a thriving empire that has impacted not only the Republic of Congo Brazzaville but also the African business world as a whole.
J.Cendrine’s business ventures have not only been successful but also socially responsible. She made a conscious effort to support local communities and improve the quality of life for her employees. Her partnership with Servair France is a prime example of this, as she worked to transfer knowledge and technology to local communities and help train the next generation of young employees.
In conclusion, J.Cendrine Sassou Nguesso is a true inspiration to women entrepreneurs around the world. Her journey from starting a small food and beverage distribution company in Pointe-Noire to creating a multinational conglomerate is a testament to her unwavering determination and entrepreneurial spirit. With her continued success, J.Cendrine has proven that anything is possible with hard work and a passion for what you do.