PROFILE: Entrepreneur 'beacon of hope' on opportunities, challenges for youths
Photo: Ousman Barrow, CEO Solar Enterprise
At just 33, Ousman Barrow leveraged the economic opportunities of his country and created a name for himself through his company Solar Enterprise Ltd which provides clean energy supply to institutions and individuals in the Gambia and in the sub-region.As an epitome of a homegrown successful young entrepreneur, he defied all odds and positioned himself well on the national stage as a role model to the budding generation of entrepreneurs. Born and brought up in the coastal town of Gunjur, Ousman, like any other young Gambian, graduated from Senior Secondary School with a dream to pursue further education on Gambian soil and with determination, perseverance and right guidance, he found himself on the right trail doing what he knows best. Entrepreneurship is not the only trait this exceptional young man possesses, he is also a generous contributor to numerous initiatives amongst them is the most popular event on the calendars of his home town - Gunjur Got Talent a program that creates a platform for young people to showcase their talents and help shape their minds to become better versions of themselves. In this segment of our profile column, Zainab Faal met Ousman Barrow and brings you an insight into the life and journey of an entrepreneur, CEO of Solar Enterprise Ltd, Ousman Barrow. @Gunjur: How did you get the idea to start your business? Ousman Barrow: Having completed my Senior Secondary School in 2003, I wanted to study law, but my Dad advised me to study business and gave me reasons why he preferred me doing business studies to any field of studies. @Gunjur: How did you raise your capital to finance your venture? Ousman Barrow: My start-up capital was given to me by my dad. After few months in Business, I began doing the business in sales and return and this enable me to raise substantial capital within a couple of years. @Gunjur: What has been your greatest inspiration?
Ousman Barrow: First and foremost is my dad. He is awesome and always guides me productively. At the national level is Mr Muhammed Jah. I have been dealing with him for about seven years and he has been very inspirational to me and my entire staff. @Gunjur: What would you say are the outstanding skills required to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ousman Barrow: Basic knowledge of the type of business you plan to venture into, Good communication skills, your ability to take calculative risk, open-mindedness, self- confidence, good planning and forecasting and sound managerial skills etc. @Gunjur: How would you define success? Ousman Barrow: Ability to live independently and impact the lives of others positively towards a better life @Gunjur: What have you done differently that has worked for you in taking your business to another level?
Ousman Barrow: Reaching out to big players in my business internationally and learning in depth from them how they run their businesses and secondly, ensuring that we have all the components available in stock for our potential buyers. I motivate my employees to the best of my ability to ensure effectiveness and efficiency. And finally, a good and healthy relationship with our customers and also providing effective and timely service delivery is a great recipe for success. @Gunjur: How many employees do you have? Ousman Barrow: I have about 15 employees and also about 5 who are hired on contractual basis. @Gunjur: What’s your unique selling point? What makes you outstanding among your competitors?
Ousman Barrow: Good quality periods, giving 12 months minimum warranty period for our installations, having in depth knowledge of the product and services, constant importation of good quality components to make sure we are always having stock to supply rain or shine, coupled with very skilled technicians for installations. @Gunjur: Where do you see yourself and business in 10 years?
Ousman Barrow: In 10 years am working on maintaining and owning a solar plant in The Gambia, that would supplement the Energy deficit of NAWEC. This Solar plant would sell Energy to NAWEC and its consumers would have uninterrupted energy supply. The plant would have at least 50 employees and there would be sufficient revenue for my business. @Gunjur: Has the new Gambia match your expectation as an entrepreneur? If yes, how ? and if no, why?
Ousman Barrow: They have matched my expectation to some extent. We have been enjoying freedom, stability and democracy, with these three traits of their administration we could accomplish and attain our goals as an Entrepreneurs. @Gunjur: Has being an Entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ousman Barrow: It has affected my family life positively because I am able to give my family a good life. I practically provide them all the enviable things a man desire to give his family. @Gunjur: What do you do out of working hours?
Ousman Barrow: I go to the gym after work and watch TV at night when am home. Sometimes weekend I play table tennis with my friends and scrabble. @Gunjur: If you have three pieces of advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs in The Gambia what would they be? Ousman Barrow: Always have inexhaustible patience and self- confidence that you can make it. Do not be afraid of failure because it would lead you to success. Do not involve yourself in any dealings without a gross knowledge of what it is all about to avert irreparable mistakes.
@Gunjur: On behalf of myself and my team, I would like to thank you very much for your time and for giving us an insight into the life of a young entrepreneur. We wish you every success in your future endeavours and hope that your story inspires a whole load of the younger generations.
Ousman Barrow: It was a pleasure talking to you and thank you too!