Young CEO tells businesses to patronise local PR firms

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By Omar Bah

Fatou Iman Njai, the founder and CEO of Fatiman & Co, a PR marketing firm, has urged business owners to patronise young Gambian entrepreneurs.

Founded in 2020, Fatiman & Co is Gambia’s first full-service marketing, public relations and management company with the aim of helping its clients leverage high impact strategic communications and marketing techniques to solve their most difficult challenges and activate growth opportunities.

The Gambia is among countries that outsource or import almost all its needs to the disadvantage of emerging entrepreneurs, especially PRO Firms.  But Fatou who holds a BSc in Marketing from the University of The Gambia and has a combined 12 years’ experience in marketing and sales, media relations, public speaking and business development is determined to change that trajectory. She told The Standard businesses in the country should start trusting “Made in Gambia” products.

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She expressed disappointment over the lack of opportunities for Gambian owned entrepreneurs, adding that the country has very good marketers, advertisers, graphic designers and videographers artists that the business community could take advantage of at all times.

“The question is, why are Gambians not on these billboards? Why is it that a Gambian photographer is not taking these pictures? Why is a Gambian graphic designer not designing this graphic on the billboards? Imagine, if these jobs were given to firms like mine or another Gambian owned firm, it will help us grow but if they continue to outsource these jobs, we will never have the opportunity to grow. So this is the problem,” she argued.

She said people from other countries are coming to do documentaries on Gambia but often Gambian voices are not captured in those documentaries.

“We have Gambians who do this even better but if you don’t try them, you would not know. So, I think it is time that we give these platforms to Gambians for them to showcase how good they are – let us have documentaries done by Gambian firms because that is the only way we can sell the beautiful image of this country and its people,” she added.

Inspiration

Fatou drew inspiration from Comium, a company she joined fresh from high school, as customer care service provider – talking to clients about their concerns, complaints and trying to help them.

“It was there that I realized I was a people person. So I started liking the job because it provided me with the opportunity to know people’s concerns and how to navigate through that but also dealing with different customers got me to really get to know my myself better in terms of what my strengths are and how to sell,” she said.

Fatou said it was then that she started acquiring small jobs here and there, writing scripts, doing voice and video adverts.

“It really got me to understand that this was my field but I hadn’t yet realized that it was marketing and communications per se but I knew that I was very good in advertising and I would memorize all the adverts on GRTS and pay attention to these small details,” she stated.

Ms Njai, who studied International Relations at the UTG in 2007, participated in Miss July 22nd Beauty Pageant in 2008 which was the first edition and then went on to Miss University Africa in Nigeria where she bagged second runner up.

“So, after doing all of these things, I decided to get into the workforce and really get into corporate communications and corporate sales and my boss, I remember, told me to go back to the university and get my degree in marketing because that is what I need to do,” she said.  Fatou then decided to go back to UTG in 2014 for a degree in marketing.

“Then I was certain that I wanted to open my own marketing firm because I couldn’t find any job to put my experience into practice,” she added.

She said it was then that she decided about creating something for everyone who’s aspiring to be a marketer or communication, advertising or PR specialist.

“So, that’s how I got the idea to start a PR firm. I felt like I could fill the gap based on my experience working with different organizations over the years doing adverts and seeing what brands need to push them further in terms of sales, bottom line but also in terms of a good relationship with the public as well,” she stated.

Miss Njai admitted that she was lucky to have mentors like Fatou Camara, Harona Drammeh and Lamin Manga.

“So, there was a lot of encouragement to do this because these people really have believed in me as well as my friends and family. Now, any entrepreneur will tell you that starting a business is not easy. You have anxiety a lot of the time but with perseverance and commitment anything good is a possibility,” she said.

Miss Njai said she had to work a whole year building from zero with specific focus on researching the market in terms of what she needed, clients to target, demographic and how to go about it.

“It took a lot of time to work on it but thank God today I have gone far with my incredible team. We now have a full-fledged team who are doing an amazing job so the journey has been long but not an easy road as it is for every entrepreneur but it’s worth it because I have seen the growth and I have seen that people appreciate the fact that this is now available and they are now getting to understand the value that we can add,” he added.

A confident looking Fatou said she has not regretted starting her business because it makes her happy that people wake up every day and go to work knowing that they are adding value to someone’s brand or someone’s business.

“Just employing Gambian youth alone makes me feel like that’s one step ahead because that’s adding something to the country. I think also the awareness aspect of it is also very rewarding because people are now paying more attention to social media management, brand management and how important that is but also in terms of influencer management,” she noted.

She said people are now coming to her more often telling her how much she inspired them and there are people at the UTG that are now studying marketing.

“The work that we do for our clients and how we improve their businesses swiftly to the next level in terms of standard, visibility and brand awareness, brand loyalty and even in terms of managing their reputation and crisis times is amazing,” Njai added.

She said Fatiman’s has a competitive advantage because it’s a full service marketing firm.

“What that means is, a client can come to us wanting to start a business from scratch and we will not only help him/her in terms of strategy but also building a marketing plan or a marketing strategy. We can also build the content for their social media, open their social media accounts, post on their social media pages, engage with their customers through voice adverts or write scripts or articles for them,” she explained.

She said at Fatiman, they take care of everything their clients need in terms of event management, product launching, service launching, ranging from correspondence, media relations, social media management and brand management.

She encourages young people to take marketing as a career.

UTG

“We should take the opportunity presented by the university and study. I will say when I finished high school, I was completely against studying at the Gambia university. I wanted to go abroad for my studies but my father was very adamant that I should study at the UTG because he was convinced that I can make it there and it is even more advisable to study at the UTG now,” she said.

She said her desire is to ensure that more job opportunities are created.

“That has always been the spirit. So, I encourage young entrepreneurs to rise up and take the challenge because that’s the only way we can be able to grow and do something with these degrees that we have from the university. I would encourage young people to come together in building a better Gambia,” she added