As an African living in one of the best countries in the world where opportunities are endless, I have a duty to participate to the development of Africa. Running around the streets of Saint Louis, Senegal as a kid I never thought in a millions years that one day I will be residing in the United States. The closest I got to being in the US during my early childhood was when I watched American movies, so moving here as a teenager was a huge life changing moment. At first I was excited to be in America as every entrepreneur is excited to start their business and work for him or herself. Secondly, I experienced a huge life changing moment because moving to a different country where you don’t speak the language is definitely getting out of your comfort zone as must every entrepreneur to find success. And lastly, the biggest of all is my internal drive to give back to the community where I came from which I consider the biggest motivator an entrepreneur can have to build a sustainable business. These are few correlations between an immigrant and an entrepreneur; however, the biggest qualities that made me who I am today are the following:
1. Understand the value of Hard Work
I never understood what hard work meant until I moved to the US. Growing up in Africa, my lifestyle was simple. All I wanted was a soccer ball and lot of friends to play with. However, everything flipped quickly after moving to the US and seen what my father had to go through to put food on the table. Working hard every day to make sure his family has everything they need is what inspires me to do the same. Even though we lived in the same house, I wouldn’t see him for days. To me that’s the definition of hard work, knowing what your goals are and working hard towards achieving them. As an entrepreneur, my goal is to support African Entrepreneurs even if it’s a limited number of Africans I’ll follow the same model as my father did to accomplish my goal.
2. Know that luck is already on my side
I have always asked myself why my family? Why were we chosen to be in America? Even though millions of families apply for Asylum every year only a few gets selected. So, I took this very personal because all of my childhood friends still in Africa where they have limited opportunities while I am getting the best education in the world. The only answer I could come up to the above question is Luck. I have always told myself since I have been lucky enough to make it in America; I have to help those who didn’t get the chance to make it here. As an entrepreneur, sometimes it’s better to be lucky and I know luck is already on my side so as an African I’ll participate to the development of Africa.
3. Having a wider understanding of the world
As always looking at the world in different lenses will bring different perspectives. I was born and raised in Africa but I became a man in America which means I know both cultures and I use it to my advantage whenever necessary. Being able to communicate with different types of people around the world is absolutely beneficial as I continue to increase my global network. As an entrepreneur, there is always an advantage in growing your network and understanding the fact what will work in America might not in Africa.
As I look back on my journey as an African immigrant, I hated not being able to fit in High School and when my classmates made fun of my English. But today, I can say that awful experience is my strength and by focusing on that I will continue to thrive and accomplish my goals..