Muhammed Jah (pictured) of The Gambia told the BBC in a recent interview of a friend who went to the airport in the late 1990s to pick up a consultant who was in the country teach his department the then-popular word processing program, WordPerfect.
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Surprised, Jah asked, “how come we have a consultant coming all the way from Europe just to teach our people how to type a letter on a computer? That was funny but serious to me, and there and then I decided that I was going to start teaching people computing.”
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So with that thought in mind, he soon started his own tech company, QuantumNet, with four employees and now has more than 300 staff members. He says that he is the first person in his family to go into business.
After earning an undergraduate degree in Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia, Jah completed his graduate education in Electronics and Communications engineering at the University of Sierra Leone.
After returning to The Gambia, Jah realized that his country needed computer engineers. With money saved from his stipend during his studies in Saudi Arabia, a loan from an uncle and the memory of his friend’s airport experience, he started a training center with $16,000. He started teaching people basic computer processing programs. Sometimes he taught students for free on the hunch that those students would bring paying costumers.
In 2006, his center became QuantumNET Institute of Technology.
It offers a series of IT courses, from basic to advanced levels, including a diploma programme in Computing Science and Business Management, delivered in partnership with the University of The Gambia and Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax, Canada.
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The firm expanded and began selling products and became a distributor for Dell and Nokia, among other companies.
The BBC has more:
“Two and half years ago, I decided to move into telecom proper by investing in the first 3G mobile telecommunication company in The Gambia which is QCell,” the entrepreneur said.
QuantumNet is now a group of companies which has also gone into the car business – distributing, amongst others, Mercedes-Benz.
Mr Jah – who has won a number of national and international awards, including Gambian Businessman of the Year three times – says that he tries to avoid borrowing money or using credit because interest rates are usually too high, often more than 20%, so he prefers to grow the business slowly and to add products when he can afford to do so.
“If I had the finance at the right price 20 years ago, I would have probably been where I am today 10 years ago. But then, based on the type of person I am, I would rather reach my goal in 18 years than to fail in five years,” he pointed out.
When discussing his younger employees, Jah says he looks at them know that his company has helped to empower their lives.
“The greatest satisfaction to me is when I start seeing my employees moving from bachelorhood to marriagehood. When we meet at our yearly family parties I feel very good because I see that, with the small steps I have taken, I’ve managed to change a few people’s lives, and I think I can do more.
This is a great–and POSITIVE– story from the Motherland. Go to The BBC for the full article and video.