It was the 10th May, 2016 at the luxurious Coco Ocean Spa in The Gambia. Being among the three finalists for the “2016 Emerging Business of the Year Award” which was organized and hosted by The Gambia Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Cape Point on the 6th May, 2016.
Received a call from the GCCI office informing me for an invitation to a Business and networking dinner organize and sponsored by Mr. Mustapha Njie (Taf), I didn’t have a second though of accepting the invitation because for at that point just sharing a dinner table with Taf I could pay a million dollars for it because I know even a minute conversation with him could benefit me a lot and enable me learn from his experience and success story, talk less of being offered a free meal at such a prestigious hotel was another motivation.
The day has finally come for the dinner at 20:00 and it was made to me that they expect us to arrive on time to avoid losing time as the following day was a working, I close from work early and had to rush home to take shower and prepare myself for the most important dinner of my life. First and foremost I had to make sure I put on one my best dress and use one of the finest perfume I had in my collection, for me as an entrepreneur the first impression he made of me was important and could be a stepping stone to not only have the opportunity talking to him but build a relationship with him that would enable me gain mentorship from him. Coincidence or luck I had get there when many are yet to arrive and luckily I found him sited at the balcony with Mr. Alpha Barry of DT Associate ( My former boss and mentor at Deloitte) who had played an important part in my life and career, I approach them to say Salaam. The first impression I had of him was “look at this guy whom we all should been sited and wait for his arrival came an hour earlier before the event and was waiting” lessons I learned immediately was TIME was very important if you want to succeed in life and also despite all the successes and accomplishments he made, he was still humble and down to and this points are things we as young people need to learned and master well to enable us get to where we want to.
Ndey Fatou listens with keen interest as Taf speaks, finally most of the guests had arrived and we were ushered into the place where the dinner was to take place (Chalit tuma nak but was just in the mood to have a nice meal… Lol). Dinner was served and while we treat ourselves to a very delicious meal. Entering the dining room had made been realized this was not just any ordinary dinner that is normally served in any Jarranka’s home but rather one of the finest meals which all Jarranka’s would give their lives to in a Nuiminka homes… (Nuimi and Jarra Joking Relationship). Another thing which caught my eye was the setup of the dinner table and as an aspiring entrepreneur it has taught me that if you need to have a business dinner with people, the location and how the setup is done matters a lot to enable them feel comfortable and concentrative. While we had dinners various speakers took the floor to speak and when it comes to Taf he said one thing and I “I don’t come here to just be talking but rather to listen to your various stories and experiences” this also taught me that in any forum or gathering for one to gain you don’t have to be talking but rather hear from others too, to enable you learn from their personal stories.
I wouldn’t do justice to this blog if I didn’t share with the readers few of the words of wisdom he shared with us during over dinner;
“Ganarr a amfa bakh na” (The moral story is in any country you go into as an Entrepreneur to have a good, honest and well connected partner is very important and vital instrument to succeed).
“Nit data ware gum bop am” (The moral story is self believe is a very important quality for one to succeed in life and not only as an entrepreneur. Believing in one’s self will push you to work hard towards achieving your dream).
Another experience he shared with us that is a learning point for me was his encounter his encounter with the former President of Mali HE. Amadou Tumani Toure (ATT), he speaks only English and while the President speaks only French. After the encounter he had to take a break from his busy schedule to learn the French language (The moral story is for one to excel in today’s business world it is important to learn as many languages and accustom yourself to as many cultures as possible)
Another word of wisdom he gave to us was never turn down an opportunity to market yourself whenever it is avail to you, also to not only network build invest in the relationship for one does not know when and where it would lead us to.
Another high points of the business dinner was different entrepreneurs shared their individual experiences and how they get to this level and the way forward. During this session it avail us the opportunity in getting to know each other and learned from their experiences, which would go a long way in helping shape our entrepreneurship skills. Most importantly at the end of the night we agreed to come together and start something that would help us network more often and use the platform to be mentored by seasoned and successful entrepreneurs like himself.
What makes the dinner more successful for me was at the end of the night I was able to have a business opportunity knock at my door, a follow up meeting was done the following and currently drafting the road map and looking forward for it kicking up and hoping it would be another opportunity to grow and solidify our business not only in The Gambia but the sun-region in the short term and Africa in the long term.
By the time you complete reading this brief blog about my encounter with one of the most successful stories of entrepreneurship in in Africa and The Gambia in particular in the honorable person of Mr. Mustapha Njie (Taf) you would made of your mind to agree with me she I said “I could have made a million dollar to be avail the opportunity to sit and chat with him for a minute”.
At the end heading home feeling Inspired
Once again on my humble behalf and all the other participant we thank you a billion times for not only taking time from your busy schedule have an inspiring and honest words of wisdom to us, and not that but avail us a very delicious meal too for that we pray that Allah (S.W.T) continue to shower His infinite blessings and wisdom to accomplish your DREAMS in a good state of health and mind. To the President, CEO and the entire TEAM at GCCI we say kudos and looking forward to more of such opportunists to enable us learn from more season and successful entrepreneurs in the likes of Taf.
At the end of the dinner I came to realise how important it is to attend such platforms, for it shall avail you as a young person to be inspired by the older generation who have basically lived through everything and it’s also an important platform for networking.
The Dinner That Changed My Perception About Life And Entrepreneurship by Dabakh Malick