Second in our series “profiling Africa’s future” ahead the BEEA summit in June 2019 is an exceptional young lady from The Gambia. Ndeye Fatou Njie is a graduate of Marina International School and Derby College (UK). She is currently a law student at University of The Gambia and the founder of TiGA. As a frequent swimmer, she realized that there is a gap in the market for locally handmade swimwear that fit comfortably using beautiful African fabric. Ms. Njie started making swimwear samples to test the
market; which responded favorably to the demand for African fabric swim wear. Recognizing the interest and potential in her products, she launched TiGA.
Today, TiGA products could be purchased from ten locations in The Gambia. TiGA celebrates the beautiful vibrancy of African fabric, the creativity of regional fashion and the importance of locally produced art. Ms. Njie also leveraged the demand for her swimwear to expand TiGA products to leisure wear, accessories and households. TiGA’s latest products in 2018 include recycling car tires into furniture and upcycling furniture. TiGA’s primary market in The Gambia is the tourism industry. Most tourists come to The Gambia to enjoy the beautiful beaches, Atlantic Ocean and almost year round warm weather. Thus, the demand for an indigenous product such as TiGA’s has great potential to increase.
TiGA’s goals include economic and social contributions in Gambian communities. TiGA recruits and train young girls interested in learning to work with African fabrics and those interested in learning art and design. They also have outreach programs to assist girls to have confidence in themselves and their own body shapes. With these activities, Ms. Njie believes that the TiGA brand can be a great way to showcase the talents of young African entrepreneurs and be a great source of economic prosperity for The Gambia.
In addition to launching TiGA, Ms. Njie is an International Visitors Leadership Program Alumni 2017 and was the winner of GoTG’s Ministry of Youth and Sports’ “Youth of the Month 2016”; winner of the Youth Empowerment Project first pitching competition 2017; winner of the BUSY competition video competition 2017; and the winner of Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency’s most Innovative Business of the Year 2017. A nominee for New African Woman on the Rise (Next Generation) by UK’s New African Woman Magazine in 2017, Ms. Njie has extended her outreach to support charities such as One Heart Gambia, Young Mums of the Gambia, and Jaeghan Cole Memorial Foundation. She is a member of Women’s International Networking Group, TAF Club Ten, and Global Shaper Hub Banjul.She is an inspiration for the African young women striving above all obstacles to come up with beautiful products that serve their local market.
When asked why she decided to take up a career as an entrepreneur, she told us, “my Key driving force to be an entrepreneur came about when I realized a gap in the market for unique swimwear made in the Gambia using African fabric”. She found a market need and created a solution for it which today is gradually going global and standing out as a brand.
Just like every other entrepreneur in Africa, she needed funds for her business which she told us “I raised funds for the business through grants and winning competitions”. This is a great funding source most entrepreneurs are yet to resort to for seed funding. Find more resources here
To penetrate her market, Tiga uses social media and networking during events to market the business. Both tactics have been very successful especially social media. We were keen to find her challenges and advice to other young people in the following questions.
What are your greatest fears as a startup?
My greatest fear as a start up was when I started the business and had to quit my stable job to concentrate on it.
In your opinion, what is the skill set needed to get into entrepreneurship?
I will say the best three skills needed to become an entrepreneur are:
Invest for the long – term
what have been your greatest challenges?
My challenges have included:
Finding the right staff with the right attitude, skills and work ethic
Access to markets
Access to resources
High shipping costs
Is there anything you think could be done to improve these?
Yes I think the circumstances could be improved by:
lowering interest rates on loans
better access to micro finance institutions
lowering shipping costs
What is your advice to other young people out there?
The entrepreneurial journey is not an easy one to embark on. If you decide to go down this road you must make sure you know that it won’t be an easy ride. You will face so many challenges and will have so many stones thrown at you but you must keep matching on. Believe in yourself and your vision no matter the hurdles ahead. Whilst you’re on this journey, carry as many people as you can with you. Teach, mentor and lift them up so that they can do the same for someone else.