The Lunch Hour

The Lunch Hour – Mustapha Njie, CEO, TAF Africa Global

“I didn’t go to university. After high school, I discovered my passion for carpentry…That led me to the construction business.”

With Wole Famurewa

Mustapha Njie is the Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of TAF Africa Global, a real estate development company with presence in 8 African countries. Founded in 1990, the company is one of Africa’s few internationally recognized real estate companies, with activities extending to high-end estate agency, mortgage-lending, and housing sector public-private partnership. In 1998, Mustapha won the European Council for Global Business Award for Excellence. He was named Gambian Businessman of the Year on three occasions: 1993, 2004 and 2006. He was also recognized as Gambian Man of the Year in 2006. He was the recipient of the 2017 CNBC/AABLA award for Entrepreneur of the Year (West Africa). Mustapha often speaks at international business events. He has been on panels at Annual Africa Business Conference at Havard Business School, Africa CEO Forum and the Wharton Business School amongst several others.

University, Science or Arts?

I didn’t go to university. After high school, I discovered my passion for carpentry and decided to pursue it. I was very determined to pursue my passion. I eventually found myself in the construction business.

Your first job.

I had very good O’ level results and was employed by my high school to teach. I did that for about 2 years. Then I worked for a British construction firm as an engineering assistant and I rose through the ranks in construction. After that, I joined a Spanish construction firm also in the Gambia. After working for another construction firm, I set up my business in 1990.

Who was the greater influence, your mum or dad?

My mum was very disciplined. She was a petty trader, but she influenced me. She always encouraged me to be an entrepreneur. She could see that I had a flair for entrepreneurship. My dad was a disciplinarian though he passed on when I was 21. He taught me focus.

Mustapha Njie winning “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 7th All Africa Business Leaders Awards

What about bosses?

My last employer influenced me greatly because I learnt to run a small business. I was employed as a site engineer, but I got promoted to the position of Manager and Assistant General Manager. My previous employers offered more technical training.

What type of music do you like?

I like traditional African music. I love Youssu N’Dour. I used to run a hotel and he used to come in to play for us. I love Senegalese (Wolof) traditional music.

Who are your favourite authors?

Honestly, I don’t read that much but I enjoy watching documentaries. I am more into innovation and thinking about what can be done differently. I get inspired when I exercise. When I am at home, I walk about 10 km by the beach where I live. It’s a great time to think up new things.

 

Also Read: The Lunch Hour – Tope Fasua, Founder, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP)

What’s your take on fashion and fashion accessories?

I am quite trendy in terms of dressing young. I love wearing fitted stuff. I watch modern shows with my daughters and I love fashion. No particular designers though. I like the etibo outfit that is popular in the Niger Delta. As a young person, I learnt how to sew basic outfits.  I have a good tailor in Aba and I like to get him to make something nice for my friends.

Favourite car brand?

Mercedes Benz

Favourite African brand?

Dangote

Favourite Fashion brand?

Ferragamo (shoes)

What’s your take on wealth?

Wealth is to make a difference in the world and then leave a legacy. Currently, I run a foundation and I am very concerned about youth development. People like us have a role to guide the younger folks to be good leaders. That is what I would like to be remembered for.

In terms of your ideology, are you more to the left, right or simply pragmatic?

Pragmatic. Realistic. I am a religious person but not a fanatic. I am a Muslim but went to a Methodist school and integrated quite well. I am somewhat liberal.

What’s your favourite place to go in Africa and abroad?

I love Southern Africa. I like to go to Stellenbosch in Cape Town every year to recharge. I like Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. Great restaurants. I enjoy travelling in Africa. I also prefer Europe to America because it’s easier to get to different places via train.

Njie at the 2018 Startup GRINDx Chat

Best use of money ever for you.

 

Also Read: The Lunch Hour – Henry Ademola Adigun, Oxford Policy Management

Nothing in particular. Money is to be used when there is a need for it. So, everything from educating my kids, to going to the hospital if I am ill. Solving problems.

What are your indulgences?

I like my cars. I don’t have a driver because I like to drive myself. I have a G Wagon but recently I have fallen in love with the Toyota Tundra. I generally like big cars.I also love my watches. Hublot is a brand I like.

Tea or coffee?

Depends on the time of the day. I can drink coffee up to mid-day. After that it’s got to be mint tea.

What would be your biggest policy ask from African leaders?

To be patriotic. Africa needs people who will make a difference in the lives of the people they lead. Paul Kagame of Rwanda is a great example of how a visionary leader can turn things around for their people.

What is the more ideal economic philosophy for the Gambia and the rest of Africa?

Capitalism is about enterprise and that should be encouraged. However, there should be a social aspect to entrepreneurship. I love concepts such as Africapitalism promoted by Tony Elumelu. We don’t have to emulate the methods of the west. African economics should reflect our culture of support for others.

The Lunch Hour was at:

Brazzerie at Four Points by Sheraton

Buffet for 2

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