02 Aug Success Meets Hardwork: Mina Bilkis & Co
Mina Bilkis has been a Tutor/Educator for several years but has had an interest in photography. When this interest peaked, she bought her first professional camera, registered her business and started a sole proprietorship entity. Mina says she never considered herself as an entrepreneur as she believed she was purely academic. However, through her journey of photography, she discovered her love for independence and self-reliance which led her to start Mina Bilkis & Co – a digital interface company which offers photography, media & advertising, content writing & editing etc.
Please tell us about your business.
Mina Bilkis & Co is a sole proprietorship entity with a digital interface that offers services such as photography, media & advertising, writing & editing content for small & medium businesses as well as corporations, institutions and individual and private affairs. Mina Bilkis & Co also offers consultancy services such as French Language tutoring, Translation and Facilitation as well as sells unisex organic health products such as body and hair lotion. We currently added a monthly business & entrepreneurship class program which is part of a 7 month program. We held our first one, last month called “Business Plan 101” and our next one will be Thursday, April 20 2017 at 10am at Africell-American Corner, Bathurst St, Freetown, Sierra Leone called “Social Media & CV Writing 102”.
We aim to provide quality and unmatched services in Sierra Leone that portrays our nation in a positive light. All our products and services are offered in our legal tender (Leones) and does not rival with western economic currencies (such as USD, GBP, Euro etc), as Mina Bilkis & Co believes that progress can never be achieved if we continue to compete with others but instead build ourselves up from the ground and foster unity, awareness and reliability.
We can be reached at email@example.com or via our Facebook page: Mina Bilkis & Co.
What made you decide to embark on rendering these services?
For the past 5 years I have been a Tutor/Educator, it was only when my interest in Photography peaked and I bought my first professional camera last year I then decided to register my business and “open up shop” so to speak. For years I have either been tutoring, covering events via media & advertising, photography and making my own body products so I figured why not make it a business and do this for me? I enjoy doing it, so here I am!
What influenced your decision to become an entrepreneur?
I find this question very interesting, because for the longest time I never considered myself an entrepreneur & thought of myself purely as an academic, but through this journey I see you can be both. I enjoy and crave independence and being self-reliant. Being an entrepreneur allows me to explore these avenues and not be financially independent upon any but myself.
To what do you attribute your success?
Reading! As the bookworm that I am I attribute all my current and future successes to reading & I see it has finally paid off! I spend hours researching and reading about different breakthroughs in my field, how to improve on what I offer, how to become more efficient, effective etc. I also attribute the 3P’s to my success: patience, perseverance & persistence. I go after what I want, I am a go getter and you have to be one to succeed in life.
Lack of capital is often cited as one of the most challenging parts of being an African entrepreneur. How were you able to fund your business?
As a Tutor, I saved my profits until I was able to afford buy enough equipment (both hardware & software) to fund my business. I am not opposed to taking loans or getting seed money from friends and family, however there is something rewarding about doing it on your own which is what I did. I wanted to prove to myself and also show others that with hard work, determination and sacrifices you can get to where you’re going and that nothing good ever comes easy.
What piece of advice would you give to other Africans just starting out?
To other Africans just starting out, my piece of advice to you is to never be deterred by life and achieve your dream. Muhammad Ali once said “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” The problem with us young people today is that we don’t believe in the ethic of hard work anymore and we feel so entitled, we need to change this narrative especially as Africans. Don’t just talk about it, BE about it. Work hard and put in work to make your start up, blow up.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made? How did you recover?
Thankfully I haven’t made any grave mistakes that I was unable to recover from in terms of finances, however one of the biggest ethical mistakes I may have made was doubting my self-worth & accepting to do client work less than what I know I am worth. In business you need to know your worth (not in terms of money, though that is important, but you have to ask – is it worth it?) and if you compromise that it will dent your self-integrity. How did I recover? I simply womanned up and started to assert myself and have more confidence in my business. You have to be bold or dry yai in Krio, but you have to use this superpower for good and for the betterment of you and your brand and not evil! Haha.