Connect with us

Entrepreneurs

A Little African Dream In Gangster’s Paradise

Gorgui N’doye was brave enough to open a restaurant in a part of New York that many were too scared to visit. His risk paid off.

mm

Published

on

At the age of 17, Gorgui N’doye, left home in Senegal to be an engineer in New York, but he ended up selling make-up to actors and opening the first Senegalese-French restaurant in Harlem. These days, in his late forties, the unlikely entrepreneur is back in Africa exporting peanuts to Asia.

In 2001, N’doye, who qualified as an electrical engineer from the City College of New York, worked as a salesperson in a company selling make-up to actors in the Big Apple.

“As I travelled Harlem to work there weren’t good restaurants around. I saw a business opportunity and decided to sell my shares at the company. I had contacts here and there, people know people, I worked with them in the build-up and opening of Patisserie des Ambassades in what we call Little Africa. It has been 16 years of hard work since then,” says N’doye.

“This business was needed; there was a demand for it from the African community. The Federal Government contributed 30 percent into the business.”

Many cast doubt on N’doye’s venture except his wife Ken Alice N’doye, who was a caterer making Senegalese food platters for birthdays and weddings.

“Of course people questioned my judgment but I just focused on my work because I believed it was a good thing. Now they know I am a hardworking person,” he says.

It took N’doye two years to get the restaurant at full steam. It was difficult.

“When we first came here in Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Harlem, in 2001, this area was bad, we were the first African restaurant in a gangster’s paradise,” says Ahmadou Ndiaye Jean, the restaurant’s manager who’s also Senegalese.

“In the seventies, Senegalese were the first Africans to land in downtown Manhattan. Most were taxi drivers; they were almost the only daring ones to move into Harlem, then undermined by drugs and criminality. But the rent was cheap. In the late nineties a new wave of other nationalities joined in. At the end of the decade federal authorities revitalized Harlem by renovating the buildings and strengthening law enforcement. The neighborhood is again dynamic and attractive to the middleclass,” says Ahmadou.

“We started the business with less than 10 people and these days we have about 50 staff, a majority of whom is from Senegal. We are open 20 hours. Basically, we just close to clean up. This place is so busy that we don’t have time to close. This is a Little Africa.”

“If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger,” says N’doye about his survival in the crime-ridden Harlem.

“South of Harlem has majorly changed over the years. Now we are living in a gentrification that is better than before 2000. It is now called an entrance to Manhattan. After 16 years we have built very diversified customers. We have been blessed,” says N’doye.

In 2005, N’doye was the entrepreneur of year with the Small Business Administration (SBA) in New York.

In 2009, N’doye returned to Senegal where he explores other business opportunities.

“Since I returned back to Senegal I ventured into a different business of exporting peanuts to Asia and South Africa,” says N’doye.

“I learned a lot from the restaurant business, the interactions I had with African customers helped me with other business ideas back home. There’s a lot to explore in Africa,” he says.

So, the life of this former expatriate entrepreneur took a big circle from Senegal and the Big Apple.

Entrepreneurs

The Foodies With A Drive For Business

Published

on

Two taxi commuters who went on to become friends and tenacious business partners selling gourmet cuisine out of a food truck.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Billionaires

Abducted Tanzanian Billionaire Mo Dewji Returns Home

mm

Published

on

Tanzanian billionaire entrepreneur Mohammed Dewji, who was abducted by unidentified kidnappers on October 11 in Dar es Salaam, has been released and has returned home safe.

 

In a statement released by MeTL group at 3.15AM today, the prominent businessman says: “I thank Allah that I have returned home safely, I thank all my fellow Tanzanians and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return.”

The Tanzanian police have also released a video in which Dewji, dressed in a t-shirt and who looks visibly shaken and worn out, thanks his supporters.

Said a source who works closely with Dewji to FORBES AFRICA: “He was released in the middle of Dar es Salaam around 3AM today, unharmed, after which he ran to the nearest security guards who dropped him off home. He does not know who his abductors were. He was only taken about 20 minutes away from the city center, so he has been in Dar es Salaam since the abduction. He has no visible bodily harm with the exception of marks from the handcuffs.”
She also revealed that the abductors wanted ransom but let him go on account of the media hype around the kidnapping.

Dewji was on his way to a gym session at a luxury hotel in Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, in the early hours of October 11, when he was kidnapped by the masked gunmen.

Dewji’s family had earlier offered 1 billion Tanzanian Shillings ($436,674) to anyone who could help them find him.
Dewji, popularly known as “Mo” in Tanzania, is the CEO of MeTL active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. He is also the main sponsor of football club Simba.
Dewji was featured on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in July 2013 and was named FORBES AFRICA’s Person of The Year in 2016. The 43-year-old single-handedly turned his father’s trading business into Tanzania’s largest import-export group.

Dewji’s personal networth is $1.5 billion, according to the Africa billionaires list released by FORBES earlier this year. He is also Africa’s youngest billionaire.

Dewji’s office has said it will release a personal address by Dewji “once he is settled”.

Continue Reading

Entrepreneurs

No Wasted Opportunities For Swazi Entrepreneur

Published

on

In the mountainous kingdom of eSwatini, a former pre-school helper is turning trash to treasure.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Trending