News of a very interesting microfinance outfit, Birima, in Senegal. It's being promoted in a kind of joint venture between the singer Youssou N'Dour and global fashion giant Benetton.
Youssou N'Dour (born October 1, 1959 in Dakar) is a Senegalese singer and percussionist. In 2004, Rolling Stone described him as, in Senegal and much of Africa, "perhaps the most famous singer alive."He helped develop popular music in Senegal, known in the Wolof language as mbalax, a blend of the country's traditional griot percussion and praise-singing with the Afro-Cuban arrangements and flavors which made the return trip from the Caribbean to West Africa in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s and have flourished in West Africa ever since.
Youssou N'Dour is one of the most celebrated African musicians in history. A renowned singer, songwriter, and composer, Youssou's mix of traditional Senegalese mbalax with eclectic influences ranging from Cuban samba to hip hop, jazz, and soul has won him an international fan base of millions. In the West, Youssou has collaborated with musicians Peter Gabriel, Axelle Red, Sting, Alan Stivell, Bran Van 3000, Neneh Cherry, Wyclef Jean, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, Branford Marsalis, Ryuichi Sakamoto and others. In Senegal, Youssou is a powerful cultural icon actively involved in social issues.
He is endowed with remarkable range and poise, a composer, bandleader, and producer with a prodigious musical intelligence. The New York Times most recently described his voice as an "arresting tenor, a supple weapon deployed with prophetic authority". N'Dour absorbs the entire Senegalese musical spectrum in his work, often filtering this through the lens of genre-defying rock or pop music from outside Senegalese culture.
In July 1993, an African opera composed by N'Dour premiered at the Opéra Bastille. He wrote and performed the official anthem of the 1998 FIFA World Cup with Axelle Red "La Cour des Grands".
N'Dour's major asset is that is strongly grounded in his culture. Even if he chooses to explore elsewhere, his roots are well established. Some have gone so far as describing him as the African Artist of the Century (Folk Roots magazine). He has toured internationally for almost 30 years. He won his first American Grammy Award (best contemporary world music album) for his CD Egypt in 2005.
In recent years, he has opened his own recording studio, Xippi, as well as his own record label, Jololi.
N'Dour has associated himself with several social and political issues. In 1985, he organized a concert for the release of Nelson Mandela. He was a featured performer in the 1988 worldwide Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour collaborating with Lou Reed to contribute a version of the Peter Gabriel song Biko which was produced by Richard James Burgess and featured on the Amnesty International benefit album The Secret Policeman's Third Ball. He has also worked with the United Nations and UNICEF and he started Project Joko to open internet cafés in Africa and to connect Senegalese communities around the world. He performed at three of the Live 8 concerts (in Live 8 concert, London, Live 8 concert, Paris and at the Live 8 concert, Eden Project in Cornwall) on 2 July, 2005, with Dido.
In 2006, N'Dour played the African-British abolitionist Olaudah Equiano in the movie Amazing Grace, which chronicles the efforts of William Wilberforce to end slavery in the British Empire.
Recently, he has covered John Lennon's Jealous Guy for the CD Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. He also featured in a joint Spain-Senegal ad campaign against illegal immigrantshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youssou_N'Dour
Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry "7 Seconds" Youssou N'Dour - Sam