Young people can make a change

Before coming to study in the University of Oulu, Anna Fatima Sambou already had experience as an entrepreneur and working in large companies in Africa and Asia. Fatima is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and especially helping other people set up and develop their businesses.

Fatima started her own business at the age of 18 in the Gambia. She wanted to consult small businesses that were run by women.

“Women need assistance in running a business, especially in developing countries, where business is typically a male-dominated area. I would help women in marketing and how to develop their businesses, how to make revenue, connect with the government, and so on. Most of them go into business without having all the information,” Fatima says.

The Gambian government was very helpful and giving plenty of support for women in business, Fatima says. Continuing her own business, she went on to work for the finance department of a  big electric and water company. She also worked abroad, as she got employed by a Chinese company as a marketing specialist. She was responsible for the overseas market, e.g. Africa and some parts of Europe in addition to Asia.

Articulate and expressive, Fatima says that she felt the need to start a Master’s programme in Europe. She said she had many options, but the University of Oulu stood out, the entrepreneurship activities in the Business Kitchen being one of the major attractions. Having well several years of work experience, Fatima came to Oulu with high expectations. After her first year in the programme, she says that the university has met those expectations.

“The university has provided me with everything I need to know as a business student, like how to develop a business, whether it’s mine or other people’s. I’ve learned a lot on how to develop a business model, and about the start-up culture, not just here but places like the Silicon Valley. I really enjoy the studies,” Fatima says. 

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Fatima is also involved in developing an app to promote and improve waste management.

“Everything is so organized in Finland and the challenge for me is how to take that back to the developing countries. I am working with a team to create this app to figure out how to recycle and create a healthy and clean environment,” Fatima says.

Fatima is passionate and driven and set on taking her knowledge and skills one day back home to improve life. For now, she is building her skills, finding new ways to research and present her ideas, and learning from her mistakes, understanding her strengths and weaknesses. Fatima picked up Chinese when working in Asia and she is now learning Finnish. She says she would like to work in Finland for a while, learn more and grow before going back and implementing what she has learned.

“For me, it’s about giving back to society. My goal in life is to be useful to others, and that would be the ultimate success in life for me. I am very passionate about Africa and I believe that it is the young people, like us, who can make a change,” Fatima says.

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Last updated: 12.6.2020