My thoughts for this new year are for you, young entrepreneurs, you who are the driving forces, the creators of solutions, the builders of tomorrow!
The year 2022 is coming to an end. We are 10 days away from 2023. It has been a demanding year on the geopolitical, economic and health front. And yet, even though the international context remains tough, I am convinced that happy days await us. I am also convinced that you are the makers of our nation’s future. You, our young go-getters, are the drivers of the positive transformation of our country!
I hope these tips will be of use to you. They will help you (surely) succeed in your projects. Whatever happens, stay focused, driven and determined for the year ahead! More than ever, Senegalese entrepreneurs and investors stand with you.
No. 1: Believe in yourself and in your project!
Back when I was a young student trainee, I knew that those years were invaluable in shaping me. Like every newcomer to working life, I came with my mind full of dreams. I also had many doubts about my future and my life plans. It was then that I came upon the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Believe in your dreams and they may come true. Believe in yourself and they will surely come true.”
When I came back to Senegal after living several years abroad, I understood what was driving me: Help my country to overcome hardship, by carrying out concrete actions for the people of Senegal.
On Friday 9 September 2022, I signed a new partnership agreement with Locafrique for a 100,000 housing unit project with FONGIP, the guarantee fund for priority investment.
In other words, give yourself the means to live your dreams rather than spending a lifetime hoping something will happen. Get started, create, test, and start over if it doesn’t work the first time. You are your own ace card for success in life!
No. 2: Champion the causes that you believe are good!
Our world is not lacking in goodwill, far from it. Every day brings us new challenges in all fronts: health, work, equal opportunities, and many others. These are all areas in which we can further the causes that we consider to be essential. The playwright Pierre Corneille wrote: “The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”
As director of Locafrique, I have the chance to meet inspiring people, and to see innovative ideas come to pass and have true societal impact. Whenever I can, I try to turn these ideas into projects. The work we did with the great American surgeon K. Obeng is an example of what is important to me.
Commit yourself fully to making the world a fairer place for you, for others and for our children.
No. 3: Don’t let negative criticism hold you back, but pay heed to constructive criticism!
When your business takes off and you have some ‘media exposure’, you will immediately and inevitably face criticism. Sometimes, criticism turns into slander. Keep yourself from hitting back. Stay focused on your projects. It is crucial that you continue to believe in your abilities, regardless of the negative criticism levelled at you. You will be constantly up against such situations throughout your working life. That is why it is important to deal with the good and the not-so-good!
Former Vice President Hillary Clinton had this to say on the subject: “Take criticism seriously but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”
In other words, don’t let mere words hold you back, take the good where you find it!
I have often faced criticism during my career, sometimes from those close to me, to protect me. This was the case in particular when I was investing heavily in developing agriculture in our country (Feed the future initiative).
I listened, thought about it, and then went ahead. In the end, by improving my initial idea through constructive feedback, we were able to complete our project of agricultural leasing for mechanisation on small farms. We managed to significantly increase the productivity of farmers in the Senegal River Valley.
No. 4: Failure is necessary! Fall down 10 times, get up 11 times!
Throughout your life, you will experience many disappointments. But rather than bear the brunt of these ordeals, you must learn to turn them into a strength for the future. The ancient philosopher Socrates expressed a true thought on this subject: “Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen.”
For this new year, I wish for you to spring back with panache when you are faced with adversity. Resilience is the key to success.
No. 5: Surround yourself with a team that is better than you!
Becoming a professional necessarily implies changing your stance and knowing how to put your ego at the service of a collective project. In the course of your future working life, you will inevitably have to work with many different people and partners: choose carefully who you trust. Learn to surround yourself with the best! You must prioritise certain values such as loyalty, consistency and long-term commitment when building your teams. Former US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said it all when he declared: “The art of success is knowing how to surround yourself with the best.”
This is what I strive to do on a daily basis, especially by surrounding myself with qualified professionals. Without my Locafrique teams, nothing would be possible!
No. 6: Outsource tasks that take up too much of your time!
When you’re on the job from morning to night, you can quickly become overwhelmed by lower-tier concerns. Be honest with yourself always and know your limits. You cannot take care of everything. Learn to delegate, and to identify the areas where you may need help from outside. Subcontracting is very often the ideal solution to unjam a project that is slow to move forward. Virgin Group CEO and founder Richard Branson readily attributed his success to his ability to delegate and ‘let go’. And this is how I act with my partners and employees on a daily basis.
No. 7: Get your projects off the ground by calling on seasoned players!
Learn to look at what works elsewhere. Very often, the experience and skills of long-standing assets can have a decisive impact on the routine decisions we make. As the great craftsman Leonardo da Vinci aptly said: “Wisdom is the daughter of experience”.
So never stop taking advice from experienced people, as they hold the wisdom of the years! No matter how far ahead you are with your project, Locafrique is there to discuss and explore your financing options with you, to get your business off the ground. Contact us!
I wish you the very best for 2023!