After schooling in France, I came to Senegal because I see myself as African and a Senegalese woman. I attended public schools in Senegal, went to a public college and even went to study in France on a scholarship. My mother and father struggled for the independence of the country so I had to come back.
When I started, I said I wanted to build 100 houses. My driver who was with me, said: “Madam, now we are in trouble. You have no money!”. I told my mother I was going to borrow 1 billion CFA from the bank, and she told me, “If I look at my salary as a teacher, I can’t understand what you are saying”. I ended up building 136 homes in my first development.
Somebody once told me that: “Persevere, when you think you are on the right way”. Another person once told me that “When you make money in your business, don’t re-invest in the same business. Diversify”. I disagree with the second person. I think it is the old way of doing business where people wanted to be rich for themselves but not the company. If we want to change Africa, we have to set up big, strong companies. The only way to do that is to re-invest in our companies.
I think that a lot of people can set up good companies. They have to accept you need to begin small to grow. They also have to accept to give themselves time. You can’t be a good business man or women in one or two years. It takes time.
What keeps me inspired and on the same path to achieve my aspirations is the idea I have for Africa. I think it is time for Africa. It is time for African people to sit up and take on their own destiny. African entrepreneurs should start dreaming of making huge, huge, huge, infrastructural investments.
I think Senegal is growing but it can grow much faster, if we invest in raising the quality of education for our citizens. Also, the country must allow the private sector to grow, if the private sector doesn’t grow, the country will never grow.
Senegal’s biggest opportunity is its people. Educated, strong, people.