In order to give our readers and supporters an in-depth look at the potential AFRILINK will have on African youth employment and entrepreneurial development, we will be featuring profiles of AFRILINK entrepreneurs, mentors, board members, and supporters of AFRILINK. We hope these profiles will help you personally connect with our cause and our members and will inspire you to become more involved in AFRILINK.
Our first profile is of an AFRILINK entrepreneur who is currently starting her business in Kenya. Vivian Maureen Ojal, a business graduate of Michigan State University, explains her thoughts about business, entrepreneurship, mentorship, and her vision for her company in Africa.
1 – Why did you decide to pursue business in school?
I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelors Degree in Food and Industry Management. I also recently received certification as a Human Resource Director from Cornell University. With over 10 years experience in entrepreneurship, I have worked as an executive coach with some of the worlds’ leading organizations and helped companies find and retain talent to help them achieve their business goals.
2 – What excites you most about business?
There are three things that excite me most about business:
- Overcoming the Challenges and the Risks: I believe in the notion that any great achievement is only as strong as its potential to fail. As such, I always endeavor to test the unknown with regards to my business ventures as well as my personal goals. As a strategic thinker and visual individual, I constantly strive to push the limit and accomplish the seemingly impossible.
- Constantly Learning: Growth is part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. From the very onset of my career, not a day has gone by where I have failed to learn something new about the business, and about myself as well.
- Giving Back: Giving back to the community is a value that was instilled in me from childhood. I am thankful for the successes that my business has been blessed with but I feel that it would all be pointless if I failed to do my part in giving back to my community.
3 – Explain your business plan… what kind of business would you like to start? What will be the mission of your business?
The purpose of my business is to revolutionize existing Human Resource Outsourcing practices across Africa and beyond. This is coupled with the overall aim, which is to provide HRO solutions for companies the world over.
4 – Why did you decide to start your business in Africa, instead of another continent?
Although I like to consider myself a global citizen, Africa is the land of my birth and having been born and raised in Kenya, I know of the potential we possess. I noticed the gap in the market when it came to matching talent to relevant job markets. I also found a need to develop our raw and energetic young labor force. I wanted my company to bridge the gap.
5 – What tools do you think are crucial for any businesses success?
Operational capital is vital for the sustenance of every business. It goes without saying that steady cash flows will ensure day smooth running of the business, and thus this is a crucial factor. In addition, creating the right environment for the team will encourage open channels of communication, a free arena that encourages creativity and a unified goal. In my humble opinion, these are the right ingredients for business success.
6 – What challenges do you foresee in the future for your business/starting your business?
As with all new business ventures, there is always the issue of managing overheads and maintaining profits. Finding the right manpower; especially the right talent that understands your business’s mission and vision can be quite difficult. There are also matters of finding relevant vendors and suppliers, and of course, sourcing for new business as well as maintaining key clients.
7 – How could a mentor help you overcome these challenges?
A business mentor can provide me with invaluable advice based on his or her experiences. They would also act as a source of inspiration with regards to how they overcame their own hurdles to reach where they are now.
8 – What do you think is the most important quality for a potential mentor to have?
The most important quality for any mentor is rigid belief in their mentee. I believe that by having an inspiring individual place their faith in their charge, the latter individual will garner their own self-belief and do their best to prove their abilities not only to their mentor, but also most importantly to themselves.
9 – Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Five years from now, I see myself travelling the continent in search of young talent across Africa with the aim of nurturing and developing the youth to prepare them for the emerging business market.
10 – Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Five years from today, I see my business thriving as a self-sufficient entity with a strong global presence. By then, we hope to have offices in Hong Kong, Mongolia, Johannesburg and Berlin.