Born and brought up in Banjul, the capital city of the tiny West African country – The Gambia, Modou N.S Njie is a young and dynamic ICT Specialist who identifies himself as a social entrepreneur with a great passion for farming and agriculture.
Mr. Njie is a very passionate young entrepreneur and a role model for Gambian youths. His consistency, creative thinking, smart working ideas, communication skills, and experience in finding market opportunities in the agribusiness sector are unmatched. He is indeed a successful social entrepreneur in The Gambia.
Mr. Njie is the Chief Executive Officer of Fram Fresh, an online food store and delivery service with a proven track record in The Gambia. The company is celebrating nine years of excellence this year.
In this interview, Modou N.S Njie tells LamToro News about his journey to becoming a successful social entrepreneur, despite the risks he took.
Enjoy the rest of the interview:
1. Can you introduce yourself?
A: I am Modou NS Njie, a young Gambian social entrepreneur born and bred in The Gambia with a passion for farming and agriculture in general but an ICT Specialist with a working experience of over 24 years.
I was born in the mid-70s at The Royal Victoria Hospital now Edward Francis Teaching Hospital in The Gambian capital city, Banjul. Raised by two beautiful, loving yet disciplined and principled parents who happened to be both educationists (teacher, headteacher, headmaster, headmistress college principal) from humble beginnings and upbringing. I am a one and only son and the last born with three older sisters (much older than me ). My late father (may Allah have mercy on his soul and grant him paradise and other departed souls) was commonly known as Bai Ndondi Njie or NSZ. An erudite scholar in all aspects but specifically in education and agriculture, well known and respected in The Gambia and overseas. My mother is also a retired headmistress and retired Girls Guide Commissioner and a retired writer and poet, very quiet yet sharp.
2. Tell us about your academic background and employment record.
A: I attended Methodist Preparatory Nursery school in Banjul and later enrolled at the famous Serekunda Primary School. I later got transferred to Ndows Comprehensive Primary School (Mrs Ndow). My late father requested that I repeat my grade 4 / primary 4 class despite having passed all subjects as he wanted me to get even better grades which I did willingly. Having sat the Common Entrance Examination (West African Examinations Council) I passed all subjects with flying colours and was awarded a government scholarship. My late father Bai Ndondi intervened once more and suggested that my scholarship is for financially challenged students and he would instead pay my school fees and that was what happened.
I am a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Certified IT Professional with emphasis on SQL Server Database Administration from Koeneg Solutions, India.
I possess a City and Guilds Advanced Diploma in Business Information Technology, GTTI National Diploma, and Higher National Diploma in Computer Science. I am also trying to complete my Associate’s Degree in Business Information Technology which I started studying online from Thompson Education Direct, USA. I also have plans to start pursuing an MBA in Business Administration within the next 12 months. I also possess certifications in the following courses:
– Marketing Concepts (Brainbench.com)
– Advance Diploma in Internet Governance Infrastructure from Diplom Foundations
– Diploma in Internet Governance and ICT Policy .
– Lecturer Trainee in Computer Science (Gambia Technical Training Institute 1997 to 1999)
– IT Manager , Continent Bank Ltd (Gambia) – 1999 – 2001
– IT Support, Parkside Condominium, Maryland, USA – 2001 – 2003
– Independent IT Consultant – UNDP Gambia – 2003 -2005
– IT Consultant and Head of Risk and Reputation Unit – Deloitte and Touche Gambia – 2005 – 2007
– Head of Technology / IT Manager, Reliance Financial Services – 2007 – 2009
– Self-employed / Consultant N-Web Plus – 2009 – 2010
– Head of Technology / IT Manager, Guaranty Trust Bank Gambia Ltd – 2010 – 2011
– Self-employed, Proprietor N-Web Plus, 2011 – date
– Self-employed, Proprietor Farm Fresh, 2013 – date
– Self-employed, Managing Director, MoneyFarm Gambia, 2018 – date
– Interim CEO and Managing Director, Cloud. gm (PointClick Technologies), April 2022 – date
3. How did the idea for your business come about?
A: I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship ever since I was a student at GTTI. I was always doing business (freelance) on the side.
With Farm Fresh in 2013, I saw a gap in the marketing and distribution for farmers in The Gambia, and the idea was born then to set up an online food store and delivery service. I was also a customer and frustrated with the lack of an online service to order healthy products and that also inspired me to set up one.
4. What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
A: To provide solutions to everyday problems
5. How did you come up with the name for your company?
A: With Farm Fresh I thought it was generic and self-explanatory whenever mentioned as it captured our goals and objectives, ie deliver fresh produce
6. How did you raise funding for your business?
A: Self-financed up to 2015 when I first received $5000 from the Tony Elumelu Foundation as seed capital
7. How do you build a successful customer base?
A: You have to always be on your toes and aim to exceed customer expectations, attend to their needs and concerns, compensate them where necessary, learn from previous mishaps or mistakes, make them feel at home, and make them see the value they are driving from using your services (win-win partnership)
8. How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
A: Overwhelmingly and up to this day social media has been the most effective tool for us: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now TikTok. Regular updates on products and responding to online inquiries in a timely fashion.
9. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A: My wife works with me so it has only affected it in a positive way as she is also part of the team and I got her buy-in. She appreciates the hard work I put into the business but we do take some time off to have a healthy work-life balance which I must admit can be further improved. I tend to be a bit of a workaholic LOL…
10. What motivates you?
A: Thinking of problems and finding solutions for them and in the process make some money through solutions but also helping others grow after seeing their potential, especially the younger generation, mentorship, and counseling.
11. How do you generate new ideas?
A: Most of my ideas are generated during non-work hours between 2 am and 5 am after doing some prayers when possible (Tahajjud) and meditations.
12. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Al A global economic meltdown that will inadvertently affect all countries including ours. I believe in solutions thus in spite of the fear I always believe there is always a way out of a problem example growing what we eat and eating what we grow (reducing external shocks due to overreliance on imports)
13. How do you define success?
A: I define it as getting that sense of fulfillment upon the realization of a particular dream or goal, it could be anything. I don’t see a material gain as a success but as part of the journey toward success. Some forms of success have no financial value. Overcoming adversities is always defined as success in my books and making a positive impact in the lives of ordinary people.
14. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A: There is no fixed rule. You create your own rule but some elements need to be in place such as honesty, patience, persistence, determination, hard work, faith, taking care of one’s health ( having a sick body and mind will struggle to become successful).
15. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A: Being my own boss and calling the shots knowing there are no limits in terms of potential revenue, waking up at my chosen time, being able to travel and discover the world, having more fun with family, friends colleagues, and not being restricted in shape or form
16. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A: Overcoming many obstacles which came my way and weathering the storms and eventually seeing the fruits of my labor and sometimes getting recognition for it.
17. What is your assessment of the country’s current economic situation?
A: We need to INTERNALIZE our problem in spite of it being a global one, find ways and means of boosting the local production and industrial industry, provide financial incentives to deserving businesses to help them scale, providing policies to favour the citizens such as tax breaks and giving subventions to farmers and most importantly making it mandatory to buy Gambian products during events. An example can be giving contracts to Gambian companies to supply government furniture as well as other forms of procurement as long as the local quality is better than the imported versions, etc.
18. How do you see LamToro News coming into the Gambian media fraternity?
A: We have several media houses and the more the merrier as competition will keep you all on your toes and it’s always healthy to have divergent views on issues.
19. Any final message?
A: Thank you for this opportunity and I wish LAMTORO NEWS the very best of success. Never give up! Impossible = I’m possible.
20. Thank you for granting us this interview.