From Nothing to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

image1From Nothing to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

When I look back, I sometimes have to pinch myself. My current life seems so unreal and yet, everything that is happening now is real. I went From Nothing to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur. I went from being a teenage mum with nothing to fall back on but my education and my strong faith in a better future for myself and my child. It has been a roller coaster ride. Today, God raised me up and blessed me with a family, a wonderful husband, two other children, my first born is now doing her second year in one of the best universities of South Africa and He gave me the strength to resign from my full-time job and start my own company. It has not been an easy road. From Gabon, my country of origin, where French is the official language, to South Africa where English is one of the official languages, from the bottom to the top, here I am, against all odds. From Nothing to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur, here I am with a thirst for more, with a thirst to inspire, with a thirst to empower, with a thirst to live a fulfilling life and to encourage others to do the same. This post aims at encouraging people who are going through a rough path. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

I left my home country Gabon in 2003 for the simple reason that I wanted more out of life. I tried to make it and yet, the system let me down. When I thought I was finally going somewhere, something happened and made me wake up and smell the roses. If I recall correctly, there was a blank year in 2001 where the academic year was cancelled, meaning that everything we did, all the time, efforts and money we put in were gone just like that. That also meant starting over the following year with no assurance that things would get better moving forward. It was time to make a decision. We were very poor and my mother could not afford to send me abroad. I was about 20 years old when I decided to go abroad to undertake my studies and chase my dreams. With no money, a very young child to support but a strong faith that God has my back, I took the decision to live a better life against all odds. I did not know how I would manage to achieve that, I just knew that I was going to realize that dream.

Life in Gabon is tough. Finding a small job was almost like a dream. I was studying English at the time at Université Omar Bongo. I heard about a job offer at Inter Continental Hotel in Libreville and decided to go for the interview despite the fact that I was not sure to be the right candidate for the post. I lacked self-confidence and did not think I had what it takes to make it in the hotel industry. But something deep inside of me told me to go for that job interview. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband and father to my other two children) also encouraged me to go for that job interview. We were many students from the English departments. The interview was run in English and was opened. In turn, each one of us had to motivate his application and explain why he or she was better suited for the job. When it came to me, I felt so shy and so not fit for the job, I said, in English, ” I don’t think I am fit for the job, I do not speak English while it is a pre-requisite, I don’t even know why I came, I have no experience in guest relations and in the hotel industry. I just thought I would give it a try”. Everyone looked at me, shocked, obviously. I just shoot myself in the foot. When I left that interview I thought I probably lost my only ticket to a better life. However, I thought something else would come along. To cut a long story short, against all odds, they called me back and my boyfriend and I got the job!!! Talk about a miracle. The HR director was moved by my honesty and by my lack of confidence. She told me that she saw something special in me and decided to give me a chance.

Sometimes you need quality people to have more faith in you than you have in yourself and trust that they have your best interest at heart.

I accepted the job and blossomed in that position. That job was my stepping stone. In a year, I saved enough money to pay for my studies in South Africa. I registered online and took up studies at University of Pretoria in 2003. I was thrilled, excited and so happy to have the opportunity to study in an English speaking country where I finally could work toward a better life. Did things get better ? Yes and no, it was hard for me as a French speaker to come from a French speaking country to live and study in an English speaking country and on top of that to undertake English, translation and interpretation studies. I had headaches every time I went back home in the evening. I remember that I would switch off the TV and just stay still in my room…I thought I was going to die when we started reading Shakespeare. I bought the book, started reading the first 10 pages and thought to myself : ” What on earth am I reading?” I did not understand anything! I thought to myself, that’s it, you are going to fail! I then thought to myself, come on Eva, you have crossed many frontiers to come to this. You will not let Shakespeare get on your way, right? (LOL). Then I read another 10 pages. Still nothing. I panicked and went to talk to my lecturer. He told me something extraordinary that changed my life.

Eva, I know what you are going through. Don’t worry, even native English speakers struggle when they read Shakespeare books. Keep on reading, concentrate more, your mind will get used to it and you will understand the patterns. Trust yourself.

I was not sure it would work but I decided to give it a try. Did it work after another 10 pages? Nop. But after about 50 pages, I started understanding the sentences, the paragraphs, the imagery and guess what, I ended up loving Shakespeare. I read so many of his works. I even chose Shakespeare as one of my modules for Honor’s degree and that experience taught me a great lesson. Do not underestimate the power of the mind.

To sustain ourselves at university, my boyfriend and I started a business. That was the beginning of my life as an entrepreneur. We started a small tutoring agency. That business gave us financial freedom while studying. It was such an awesome experience.

When I graduated, I needed more money and then applied for jobs. I was a French Assistant Lecturer at University of Pretoria, a French teacher in a few high schools and ended up working at Alliance française at first as a French trainer and then as a Translation coordinator and DELF/DALF coordinator. At the time, there was no translation department. For those who know the network Alliance française, their core activity is to promote French as a language and a culture. I started a translation department from scratch. In less than a few months, it became very lucrative and very well known for the quality of the work offered. I worked at Alliance of Pretoria for 10 years and decided that it was time to quitter les sentiers battus, get out of my comfort zone and start my life as an entrepreneur. Why did I resign?

  1. I wanted more time for my family (my husband, my 3 children), to read, dance, have a social life, dream, travel, chase my dreams, etc…
  2. I wanted financial freedom
  3. I wanted to explore, inspire, motivate and grow as a human being
  4. I wanted to become an entrepreneur, a leader
  5. I wanted more out of life, no more playing small

I resigned knowing that it was going to be a challenge but I was ready for it. My husband had my back and I knew God would provide. I took the plunge early this year. I am now running my own company. Since I started, I have received assignments from NGO’s, International organizations, private companies, individuals, the South African government, French speaking embassies and the list goes on. I doubled my salary in a few months and have time to read inspiring books. I recently finished one book by Sharma. I love him! I also started blogging again, I am taking dance classes, have an active family and social life, have time to hit the gym again, at least 3 times a week. I feel good and so awake!

Being an entrepreneur is not easy but it is rewarding. I am still growing but I am happy to play my part in our society. I get so much work, I sometimes have to outsource and doing so, I empower other people who are in the translation industry. I developed many aspects of my person and offer a wide range of products such as translations, voice over works, workshops and make it an objective to inspire and motivate people to tap into their potential and move forward whatever obstacles they may encounter.

I have a story to tell and a role to play in our society. God raised me up. I went from bottom to the top and now I am aiming higher than the sky because I know that we have been endowed with an amazing power and that we are not on earth to play small. We are on earth to play our part, to be of service to one another and step into our greatness. In the past, I touched the bottom and I know how it feels not to have food, not to have money for transport, not to be able to take care of a child, not to have the basics to live a decent life, to be exposed and to fear for the future. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that when I make it in life, I will thank God for raising me up by being of service to others and by not playing small. Today I am here, with more projects on the pipeline, with great hopes for the future, with so much love and passion in my heart, I know that exciting things are on the way.

I truly hope that this inspirational true life story From Nothing to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur will inspire you to chase your dreams, will motivate you to keep on moving forward despite the difficulties you may be facing, will challenge you to step into your greatness.

I leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Og Mandino :

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.

Have a fantastic day!

Eva Arissani, Published author of New Moi New Life : Five Ways to Build a New You and Live an Extraordinary Life, Inspirational/ Motivational Speaker, Blogger, Founder of runner up as best religious/spiritual blog in 2015, French/English/French Sworn Translator, French Voice over artist, Facilitator, Entrepreneur

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