By Tata Mbunwe
François Puene first became popular after her husband, Augustin Kontchou Kouomegni, Cameroon’s former Minister of Information, became trapped in an embezzlement scandal.
Today, the elegant looking billionaire, popularly called Mamy Nyanga has been elected into Cameroon’s Upper House of Parliament under the ticket of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party.
She was among many new faces that joined the Senate after the March 12 Elections.
Entrepreneur and humanitarian
Physically, Françoise Puene is identified by her shaved hair and atypical dressing (usually suit), but she is distinguished by her entrepreneurial prowess and women’s empowerment ventures.
The CEO of Franco Group, which owns many hotels in the country, did not have an easy ride to fame, however.
She is said to have started from the streets of Bafoussam, where she hawked food items to make a living. This was after she divorced from her polygamous husband, a traditional ruler in the West Region.
From hawking foodstuffs on the street, she diverted into fashion and started retailing clothes.
Through hardwork and determination, she diverted into real estate where she made her fortune. Today, she owns Franco Group, a company that owns and manages hotels in the country.
Socially, Mamy Nyanga has been the voice of women and has taken several initiatives to empower women and young girls to become independent.
Her desire to advocate for the rights of women and social change landed her into politics where she became a fervent supporter of the Biya regime.
Her loyalty to the regime evidently paid off, as she earned a ticket into the Senate under the Biya’s ruling CPDM party.
Aside being an entrepreneur and politician, Mamy Nyanga recently became an author after publishing her first book, “Itinerary of a Hustle to Become a Billionaire”, a book that provides insights into entrepreneurship.
She is visible loved by many Cameroonians who admire her hardwork and go-getting spirit.
Through her foundation, Mami Nyanga Cameroon, she has empowered several women, girls and youths in entrepreneurship across Cameroon.
Not void of controversy
Although many admire Mamy Nyanga, others have also questioned the genuineness of her wealth and fame, especially after her supposed husband Augustin Kontchou fell out with the Biya regime over embezzlement allegations.
Her closeness to the Biya government also makes it difficult for many to believe she is intentional about the social change she advocates for.
One of her lowest moments came in 2012 after she was thrown into New Bell Prison in Douala for several months.
After leaving the facility, she began advocating for the rights of women in the country.