Entrepreneur Spotlight: Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi | Author of “What Color is Your Money” and Host of Impact Africa

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi | Author of “What Color is Your Money” and Host of Impact Africa

“Live on purpose, and let that purpose be driven by your desired destination.”

These are words that Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi left us with as we finished our conversation about her passion and mission.

A graduate of Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia, Ganiyah is a great inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere. She fuses her for profit and non-profit work and delivers work that exemplifies courage, strength and resilience.

Her debut book, “What Color is Your Money” reflect her passion to educate and uplift others by confronting what many of us face an uphill battle with, money.

Her book shares key pillars for building foundational success in finance, which is important in running a successful business.

On a granular level, Ganiyah is also a personal financial coach to assist her clients in building budgets to reach their financial goals.

Core Strength in Finance

Her financial background is a core strength that allows her to pivot her work to help others through her advocacy on bridging west to emerging markets particularly, Africa.

Her work advocates for continuous public engagement to invest in Africa.

If that is not enough, Ganiyah is deeply devoted to solving issues of low-income families with the focus on empowering the children of those families through her work on United for Kids Foundation.

If there was ever one that we have interviewed at Naija Enterprise thus far who allowed us to see the world on many different lenses, Ganiyah has managed to affect our perspective to a point that made us probe deeper and look into ourselves to see could we do more to positively influence our environment.

In Ganiyah’s own words, she has found inspiration and strength through the stories of Khadijah (the wife of Prophet Mohammad SAW).

What a striking resemblance that Ganiyah’s work is also centered on those who are less fortunate as what Khadijah formerly did during her time.

It is even more remarkable that both Ganiyah and Khadijah uses their financial and business background as a means to serve others.

Socioeconomic Development and Entrepreneurship

Briefly explain what you do and how you do what you do best?

I honestly like to describe myself as a “hustler for socioeconomic development.” I do this by being a social entrepreneur, speaker, author and financial coach (www.ourfinancialcoach.com).

I produce and host Impact Africa (www.africa-impact.com), a radio show that inspires listeners to participate actively in African development through entrepreneurship and job creation particularly for Africa’s growing youth population.

I also invest considerable time and energy into creating a better world for children from low-income families through United for Kids Foundation (www.unitedforkidsfoundation.org), an organization I co-founded in 2002 and co-manage with some good friends.

Tell us about the time that you decided to take the leap to follow your dream, passion or your interest?

An episode that comes to mind was in August 2009 when I decided to quit my job, this was a job I had only been at for about 4 months, and one that I got after being unemployed for 4 months prior.

But I quit with just $237 in my bank account because I wanted to have time to grow my passion of creating a better world for children from low income families. I wanted more time to work with United for Kids Foundation.

It seemed a bit crazy to folks around me then, but I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do. I eventually got another job about 3 months later, but only because it gave me the flexibility to work on my mission.

Her Inspiration and the Actions Taken

Who gave you the inspiration to pursue your dreams? What action did you take after?

I was lucky to be raised by a very wonderful father and a very caring mother. My dad, who passed away last year was a community activist in every sense of the word, and I think I got that passion from him.

My dad was never one to hoard money, he got and shared everything without hoarding.  My mother is a very generous woman and you couldn’t be stingy being around her.

She told my siblings and I a story about the sun and the moon when we were kids: she said the sun is disliked by humans because he was stingy as a child, and the moon is liked because he shared party favors with others as a kid.

It’s funny now, but that tale impacted me as a child. It made me want to be liked and inspired me to share.

Outside my family, I have been greatly inspired by the stories of Khadijah (the wife of Prophet Mohammed SAW).

She is everything I want to be – wealthy, generous, influential, powerful and very strong.

I also learned a lot from the stories I read about Oprah Winfrey, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and Princess Diana.

How has this journey affected the lives of the people around you?

One of my favorite mantras is:

“At the end of our lives, our popularity will be measured by the number of hearts we visited in our lifetime.”

I want to visit a lot of hearts, for those who are poor, I hope to give them hope of some light at the end of the tunnel.

For those who are rich or somewhat comfortable, I want to help them reach people in need. United for Kids Foundation is a bridge between the Haves and the Have Nots.

Five Year Plan and the Bigger Picture

Tell us about what you’re doing now and what you envision to do in five years.

What I am doing now? Hustling day and night, laughs!

On a serious note, I want to keep living my life on purpose. I think the biggest disaster anyone can suffer is returning “your car to your creator with a full tank.”

God has given us this life and we must live it to the maximum. So I hope to transition my finance career to a higher level by practicing “financial therapy” full time, I pray United for Kids Foundation will continue to grow so that 1 million children will feel our impact by 2020.

I also hope Impact Africa will still continue to tell our stories to the world and on a bigger platform than we are doing now.

If there is one thing that you can change in your past, what would that be and why?

Actually nothing, I won’t change anything.

I think everything that has happened in my life, whether pleasing or painful has been deliberate by God to birth the new me. So I won’t change anything at all.

When dealing with negativity or setbacks, what types of strategies did you use to overcome them?

Truth is, I am still learning how to handle setbacks.

For now I just “Sleep, Pray and Dance.” I am extremely emotional person, so dealing with setbacks isn’t my area of expertise, but God keeps lifting me higher than my challenges.

What kind of technology are you using to increase your productivity and how has that impacted your life?

IPhone.

Even though I hardly pick up unscheduled phone calls because they have a way of throwing off my plans, I use my phone to manage my schedule and essentially “control” my very hectic “world.”

Childhood Ambition and Change

What did you want to be when you were growing up? What changed?

I wanted to be a teacher, then I got into secondary school and fell in love with the cash book, and changed my career path to accounting. But I am essentially back in the teaching world somehow now.

Where are you currently based? What are your plans to spread or expand your reach?

I am based in the Washington DC area (USA), but I am always in Lagos.

However, in 2015 I have decided to ditch the concept of one address, so I intend to be active in 3 continents – Africa, Europe and North America.

These are places where my life mission requires me to be, so it’s unfair to continue picking just one.

Are you getting enough support for your kid’s foundation?

Definitely not as much as we need. We need more hands on deck.

The amount of problems faced by children from low/no income families in Nigeria can send a normal person to rehab. We need people to visit our worksites and find a way to squeeze out time and money to support this cause.

What is your morning ritual?

I am not really a morning person and that is because I work very late, so mornings are quite challenging for me.

But most of the time after saying my prayers, I go back to bed or go to the gym. I am that person that wakes up by 5 but can’t get to the office before 9:30AM, it is because I am up till 2am most nights.

Staying Grounded During the Grind

How do you stay focused throughout your busy day?

I keep a very active To Do list, and I hardly pick up my phone unless it’s my mom or siblings calling.

If there is one person that you have the choice of spending your day with, who would that person be? Why?

Oh wow! I have to think about this one carefully.

Honestly since it is impossible to spend a day with my dad right now or with Khadijah (the wife of Prophet Mohammed), I guess I have to settle for someone who is living right? Laughs!

It will have to be a tie between Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and Oprah Winfrey. Those are two women I never get tired of reading about.

Share your parting thoughts to our readers.

Live on purpose, and let that purpose be driven by your desired destination. My purpose is driven by my faith.

I constantly think about the hadith of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) that says:

“There is a key for everything, and the key to Paradise is to love the poor.”

And forgive yourself for your mistakes, don’t beat yourself up, just keep moving forward.

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