By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Bouba Camara is a leading Gambian entrepreneur. At his age, Mr.Camara has succeeded in running numerous business entities in the United States. Camara believes in self reliance to achieve his desired goal. For Camara, it is time for Gambians in the diaspora to patronize their brothers and sisters in business. Together, he argued we can make a difference in our respective communities in terms of development. Having extensively travelled in major European cities, Camara is today is self employed with his flourishing business. He is engaged in shipping, towing and tax filing. Mr.Camara is one of the first Gambian businessman who patronized the Freedom Newspaper with advertisement. A down earth gentleman, Camara believes in sharing and free expression. He believes that the earth would be a great place to live if our leaders and people are tolerant to genuine criticism. In an exclusive interview with Editor Pa Nderry M’Bai, Mr.Camara commented on his business, future plans, challenges facing African businessmen and a host of others. Below is the full text of the interview. Please read on…
Freedom Newspaper: Can you start by introducing yourself to our readers?
B Camara: Asalamu Allaikum, My name is Bouba Camara, I am 29 years old, I was born in Banjul and grew up in Banjul, I speak Wolof, Sarahuleh, German, and French like I speak English, after finishing my O Levels I traveled to Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark as many Gambians and Africans in general do, I lived in these Countries for three years, during my time in these European Countries I realized that apart from hustling and making money I could do better in terms of education and innovation, I then decided to pay for college and relocate to the United States.
Freedom Newspaper: There are few Gambians who are engaged in full scale business overseas. What inspired you to engage in business?
B Camara:I detest the intensity of putting in long hours and the depression people go through in the states by working long hours, I am also not afraid of taking chances, as you know business is all about chances.
Freedom Newspaper:Beside, filing taxes for your customers, we also gathered that you are involved in shipping activities. What can you tell us about the said shipping company of yours?
B Camara:Since I came to this Country six years ago I have started 5 businesses from the ground namely: Hand 2 Hand, Express Tax, Jambar Express, African Business Guide, and Camaraâ€™s Towing, I have sold one with a margin and still running the rest, I am a tacit owner in one and an active manager/owner to the others. The shipping company is in its full gear, we ship anything from a small Barrel to a full container from and to any where in the world with very competitive prices. Call 614-759-9356 if interested.
Freedom Newspaper: From the business perspective, what are the challenges in running such businesses overseas? Do you experience difficulties in wooing customers? In that I mean attracting customers to your business.
B Camara:There are demerits to all type of trades; mostly I face difficulties in the beginning however I do overcome them by time. I am very culturally diverse and able to blend in to almost all cultures as a result my customers come from all kind of race and cultures.
Freedom Newspaper: By the way who are your customers? Do you rely entirely on Gambians or you have other target areas to cover?
B Camara:My customers come from all works of live. I do not rely on Gambians only, from what I noticed Gambians living in The Gambia and Europe are more obscure and supportive to one another than Gambians living in the United States, this may have to do with the sedulous life style in the US.
Freedom Newspaper: In your view, why are African businessmen residing overseas not keen at investing in their respective countries? What would you attribute such a trend to?
B Camara:I think that most informed African businessmen are actually investing back home or at list have the desire to, African banks have the highest interest rates on secure investment that I mean: savings account, fixed deposit, and treasury bills, I know lots of westerners that invest their savings at African financial institutions and live on the margins of there interest. A Ghanaian friend of mine has a fixed deposit account in Ghana with a 30% APR, the best you can fine in the US is 6% and is even a 36 months term.
Freedom Newspaper:Well, some complained about lack of political stability, official corruption and uneven business climate to operate in their countries. Do you think such reasons are enough for one to give your back to your country?
B Camara:Africa is our mother land and we are the ones responsible for making changes, every African should take a positive stand towards the prosperity of the nation.
Freedom Newspaper:We can say that you are the first person to patronize the Freedom Newspaper with a commercial advertisement. What inspired you to advertise with Freedom?
B Camara:I founded African Business Guide back in 2004 with the sole intension of supporting, promoting, and publishing African Businesses, I adore seeing Gambians and Africans in general prosper, before publishing this guide, I personally spoke to more than 100 African business owners to learn about what they do and how they did it. It hurts me that in and around Columbus OH there is only one Gambian business owner apart from me, out of about 500 Gambians living here. I later learned that this Lady received little or no support from the Gambians, and some go to the extend of smearing the business through back biting and accusing her of price gauging, I did my research and found that was false, she was actually pricing her merchandise as others in the area, instead Gambians will shop next door at non Gambian shops. Unfortunately this lady went out of business as a result of this. She was listed in the 2006 African Business Guide published in Columbus, OH.
Freedom Newspaper: This paper is being seen in some circles as critical of the Jammeh government. What is your honest opinion of the Freedom Newspaper? Do you think that the paper is delivering the goods opposed to what the critics are saying?
B Camara: Even the prophet had critics, everybody needs constructive criticism and Jammeh is not an exemption, it is ok to criticize Jammeh when need be, and all African leaders need to welcome constructive criticism from people in there own circles and the public to there own advantage. Your paper is a source of information and information is powerful.
Freedom Newspaper: If you have the opportunity of meeting Gambian businessmen abroad today what would you tell them?
B Camara: To put together their resources, be business partners not rivals and always support one another.
Freedom Newspaper:Do you have short term or long term plans to expand your business? If yes, what areas of business do you have in mind?
B Camara: I am always looking for other options, I am currently planning to start a manufacturing company in Gambia, I am currently doing research on different possibilities.
Freedom Newspaper: Do you have any final word?
B Camara:Often people will ask me what type of business can I start or what business is good, I always say the easiest way is to look at your expenditure and the bills that you pay somebody else, there is always a potential of you being on the receiving end of the money that you pay, could be an insurance agent, a Realtor, CPA, convenient store owner, Franchisee, restaurant owner etc, I know that most Gambians can do any of these and most of these you can do while keeping your own job. I see lots of people that look down on smoke fish sellers back home and want to come abroad and sell it here, this is suppose to be funny, my point is you need to be creative. All the information given here is solely intended to promote Gambians into doing business and self employment.
The said piece can be accessed at this link:www.freedomnewspaper.com