Elisandra Pereira, MBA, PhD '17: Doctorate in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies & Theory, MBA in International Entrepreneurship

Elisandra Pereira's vision of the "Afro-shentrepreneur" focuses on the empowerment of African women and women of the African diaspora.

Elisandra Pereira
  • Year: MBA, PhD, 2017
  • Programs: PhD, Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies & Theory; MBA, International Entrepreneurship; MA, Portuguese Studies
  • Hometown: Praia, Cape Verde
  • Teaching: Teaching fellow, Department of Portuguese
  • Scholarship: Luso-American Foundation

PhD in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies & Theory

Elisandra Pereira recently defended her PhD dissertation in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies & Theory with a focus on entrepreneurship and gender politics.

She has previously earned an MA in Portuguese Studies at UMassD and is also completing her MBA at the Charlton College of Business. She is from the Islands of Cape Verde; was raised in Switzerland, France, and Portugal; and has been living in the U.S. for the past six years.

The title of her dissertation is "Entrepreneurship, Social Capital, and Gender Politics: Rethinking Empowerment Models for Women’s Sociopolitical and Economic Inclusion through Paulina Chiziane’s Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia (The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy)."

Following graduation, Elisandra is taking a teaching job at the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida and she will consider pursuing a post-doctorate position.

Combining scholarship & entrepreneurship

Elisandra founded and serves as president of the Charlton Student Entrepreneur & Startup Club (CSESC). She was a teaching fellow in the Department of Portuguese from 2011 to 2015, and was awarded a full scholarship by the Luso-American Foundation.

She also acted as the faculty leader of a fully-funded program abroad by UMass Dartmouth that was responsible for bringing a group of students to perform community service and help underprivileged children in Cape Verde.

She holds a BA in psychology from the Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies in Portugal and a post-baccalaureate in intercultural relations from Open University, also in Portugal.

Inclusion of women in entrepreneurship

Elisandra is passionate about issues facing Africa and particularly the social, political, and economic inclusion of women through entrepreneurship both in Africa and the diaspora. Her ultimate goal is to teach African, African-Americans, and African diaspora women entrepreneurs how to start their own enterprises.

Recently, she was a panelist at the kick-off of the Global Health Catalyst summit event: “Boston African Diaspora Roundtable: Towards United African Diaspora: Effecting Change through Knowledge and Investment." The event was organized by Boston University, Constituency for Africa, and Harvard University. She served on a panel with African Union Ambassador to the United States of America, her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, and the surgeon Dr. Julius Garvey, son of Pan-Africanism founder Marcus Garvey.

Promoting the "Afro-shentrepreneur"

At the summit, Elisandra proposed an empowerment model she calls "Afro-Shentrepreneurs for Innovation and Development: Rethinking Empowerment Models for Women in Africa, African-Americans, and African Diaspora Women in USA.”

Elisandra explained that "the Afro-shentrepreneur project is an intervention approach through a start-up designed to promote and support entrepreneurship among African and diaspora women who are eager to embark on or expand a small business venture.

"My mission is to create a collaborative initiative between existing or aspiring women entrepreneurs in Africa with successful African-Americans and African women throughout the diaspora, particularly in the U.S. These entrepreneurs will exchange resources—products, services, information, and knowledge—to support each other in building the economy and advancing their social, political, and economic empowerment."

Elisandra has given speeches at the World Bank on harnessing the capacity of the African diaspora in building Africa, as part of an international panel representing the next generation of African leaders. She was invited by the Embassy of Cape Verde in Washington, D.C. to represent Cape Verde at the Global Diaspora Forum, an initiative founded by Hillary Clinton in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for Internal Development.

Sharing experiences, celebrating culture

She has shared her experiences of living and studying throughout Europe and the U.S. with groups in many countries—including India, where she was a research assistant for a study on Indian and Portuguese Cultural and Political Relations in the mid-20th century.

An entrepreneur in her own right, Elisandra is the founder and CEO of Ellie Paris LLC, an international clothing brand, which is committed to inspiring, motivating, and uplifting people through apparel and the modern aesthetics of African clothing that celebrates cultural heritage.

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