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This Paris Neighborhood Isn’t a Secret, But You Probably Haven’t Visited It

Jacqueline Ngo MPII shares her passion for Paris' Little Africa, and the unique Black history of the City of Light.

Jacqueline Ngo MPII is on a singular mission to let the world know about the rich, ready-to-discover cultures of Africa in Paris. She does this in many creative and imaginative ways with her company, Little Africa.

Born and raised in Paris and proud of her Cameroonian roots and African heritage, Ngo MPII—who prefers to be called Yaqui—decided it was important to share the mostly unknown African community with Parisians and international tourists. Given that Paris is the second most visited city globally, she also believed there was room for a different type of tourist searching for something beyond the familiar Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, and Notre-Dame route.

Her first foray into sharing her vision was in 2015 when she started giving tours of a small community consisting of north and west Africans, La Goutte d’Or, in the 18th arrondissement, just below the beloved tourist magnet of Montmartre. Little Africa offers two tour options: Made in Goutte d’Or is a two-and-a-half hours immersion into the history and fashion of the area with a literal bit of spice thrown in the form of spice tastings.

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Guests get to experience the colorful fashion and people who design and tailor dresses, gowns, suits, and accessories in bold prints imported from Africa while also learning the neighborhood’s history. The tour also includes a stop at Institut des Cultures d’Islam, an Islamic cultural center on two floors with a performance space, gallery, and café. Taste of Africa is a yummy three-hour tour exploring the diverse cuisines of Africa with a visit to the lively outdoor food market followed by a two-course lunch or dinner at a local restaurant.

Next in the progression of Little Africa, Ngo MPII has written two best-selling editions of Afrique à Paris: A City Guide to Black Paris, a smartly curated tour of the neighborhood with over 200 listings of restaurants, specialty boutiques, cafes, bookstores, historical sites, cultural institutions, and profiles of local creatives. The book serves as a practical guide to the city and includes a folded map for readers.

Perhaps the most ambitious project of Little Africa is the fulfillment of launching a multi-cultural, mixed-use space Little Africa 2.0: A Parisian Village, which serves as a meeting place, a gallery for art exhibitions, event space, and an educational center to teach visitors about the African culture in the neighborhood. In 2019, Little Africa raised more than $43,000 in a successful Indiegogo campaign to help fund the center’s building and sustain its costs and growth. The center provides a space to promote and sell local, artisan products and crafts, support Afro artists and creators, and as a community center for various groups. Lastly, this fall, Little Africa 2.0: A Parisian Village and Ngo MPII are launching a concept shop. Meanwhile, you can shop online at the Little Africa E-shop, which sells T-shirts with “Noire is the New Black” written across it, and mugs, tote bags, pins, and stickers with an African mask logo.

Little Africa has found support for its mission with several international grants and financial prizes. MMGY—an international global travel marketing company— was recently awarded $70,000 to a group of organizations in Europe and the U.S. that promote Black tourism, in which Little Africa received part of the funds. Ngo MPII was one of three international women leaders selected for the Bumble’s “Moves Making Impact” award. Bumble is a social media app focused on empowering women and dedicated to social consciousness with over 100 million users worldwide.

Ngo MPII’s efforts have garnered impressive, international press with articles and profiles in the New York Times, French Elle, Vogue, and TripAdvisor. She was also profiled on the Indiegogo website in the feature “A Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur.” At age 33, Ngo MPII is the definition of a modern entrepreneur and has a passionate commitment to being the voice of her community.