The following is a post from Marilyn Nguemo who recently attended the 2016 Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Summit in Cape Town, South Africa in June. At our request, she’s agreed to share her story with you.
In the part of the world that I come from, opting out of a steady employment to venture on the least travelled path of entrepreneurship requires a lot of tenacity and it does feel lonely most of the time. Though a lot of women and men here have made a difference creating successful businesses, there is a scarcity of platform for the next generation to network with them, sit at their feet, learn and above all, be encouraged. So being part of the 7th Annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Summit in Cape Town was a precious gift in my journey to be more and to do more.
Indeed, being in the company of trailblazers, picking their brains, obtaining valuable insights on “how they made it!” made me bold, established and more than ever determined to purse my dream of pioneering the impact sourcing industry in my country. As conversations continued, I landed the first international contract of my company ZAATI Sourcing with the President of Ambrosia KK in Japan; I had my first appearance on a leading entrepreneurship talk show in India “Young Turks”; I was invited to be an influencer on Mogul a 62-million women social platform, and the Executive Director at Dell South Africa offered to mentor me to build solid systems in my organization. Though the Summit is over, technology makes it possible for us to keep up with each other.
Giving was also a big component of the Summit. I enjoyed the opportunity to find creative ways to assist Aloma Mathhews of K&G Recycling to raise funds for her paper and plastic recycling company; then I was invited to empower and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs at the Girls Track.
My participation at DWEN firmed up in me the idea that beyond funding, systems and tools, emerging entrepreneurs need role models, expert advice, smart technology and mentoring!
Today, ZAATI Sourcing is in full gear attracting digital work worldwide while creating job opportunities for university graduates at home. Alongside that I have teamed up with friends to develop an e-coffee table book with stories of successful African entrepreneurs; and also launch a platform for experience –sharing with veteran entrepreneurs. Indeed, there is “power to do more” and to be more.
Marilyn is the co-founder of ZAATI Sourcing, a company that taps into the wealth of internet to provide digital jobs to low income students and thereby equip them with IT skills, access to technology and a flexible source of income. She is a 2015 Mandela-Washington Fellow, and she was awarded a $25,000 grant to establish an impact sourcing center in Douala, Cameroon.
With a strong belief that, just like the mobile phone 20 years ago, electronic commerce represents an invaluable opportunity to connect Africa's best to the world, Marilyn teamed up with associates to launch a pan-African market place called simbaon-line that aims to uplift millions of small businesses and spur job creation.
Marilyn is a fervent advocate for breeding the next generation of entrepreneurs in Africa and she regularly engages with high school students to plant the seed of entrepreneurship