Tell us a bit about you (your personal experience).
I moved to Canada from Nigeria in April 2006. I still remember that experience like it happened yesterday. I was wearing a winter Jacket in what was apparently “Spring”. Culture shock does not begin to describe what it felt like to trade in my Pounded Yam and Ogbono soup for mashed potatoes and turkey. It was quite the adjustment.
As a new immigrant, my first few months in Canada, were spent in search of a hair dresser to braid my hair. I also spent a significant amount of time looking for the products I had grown accustomed to in Nigeria; while also trying to build a network of people with a shared background whom I could turn to for professional and personal advice.
So when I graduated from the University of Guelph in 2010 with a B.Comm in Management Economics in Industry and Finance, I moved to Toronto determined to expand my network within the African community. I also convinced myself that I had a burning passion for accounting and went on to pursue the CPA, CMA designation while working in the financial services and loyalty technology industries. Overtime, I was fortunate to grow my network of African professionals by serving on boards and religiously attending phenomenal events like Manyatta.
In January 2017, I jumped into what I now consider the deep end of entrepreneurship by launching My African Corner.
What motivated you to start My African Corner?
My first few months in Canada were a big influence. It was really important to me to remain rooted in my African culture while integrating into life in Canada. Over the years, I found myself seeking out unsuspecting strangers to get the contact information of their African service providers. This list of unsuspecting strangers included women with nice braids, jollof rice caterers at birthday parties and African fashion designers whose stunning creations I saw people wear at weddings.
It is safe to say that I have become a walking directory of African businesses. People in my network - to this day - reach out to me when they are searching for a good tailor, accountant, marketing consultant, graphic designer, hair dresser, caterer etc. These experiences led to the creation of My African Corner.
My African Corner is a solution to word of mouth marketing within the African Community in the Diaspora. Starting in the Greater Toronto Area, our goal is to be the one stop source for all things African to be found in cities across the world. My Cofounder, Aziz Garuba and I are determined to bring African businesses, events, arts and culture to the world stage, using this platform. We want to make it easy for new comers to Canada, established professionals, business owners and anyone interested in African culture to find products, services and events with a simple search on our website.
I believe this website will foster collaboration within our community and I am excited to watch it unfold. We encourage business owners to get listed for free on our website. www.myafricancorner.com.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates and events in the GTA. @myafricancorner
We encourage feedback and suggestions. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is your vision for My African Corner in the next 5 years?
We want My African Corner to become synonymous with the African voice in the diaspora. We want this to be a platform where anyone in any city across the world can find anything African in their city. We are also working on creative ways to advance the African continent through our activities in the Diaspora.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
In March 2016, I received an award at my previous company for outstanding service to the community. I was also chosen out of over 150 employees to represent the company on a trip to Ghana with our charity partner in July of that year.
To date, it remains one of the defining moments of my life.
Tell us about your first experience at a Manyatta Event.
Manyatta is such an amazing value add to our community. It has been a pleasure to watch it grow over the years. I remember being at the first event and thinking ‘Wow there are these many African Professionals in the GTA that I don’t know about?’ it is amazing to see that the same culture of excellence has remained over the years.
What is your networking philosophy?
My networking philosophy is contribute. We are family and we need each other. Don’t focus solely on what you can get out of a connection. Focus instead on adding value and finding creative solutions to problems and watch the doors open to amazing opportunities.