‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series where we pose the same ten questions to business leaders across the continent.
Liban Abdi Egal, chairman, First Somali Bank
1. What was your first job?
In the US my first job was counting cars on road highways. It was 1988 and all I had to do is count how my cars used the highway in a day. I made US$8 an hour.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
That would be my parents.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
The thought of failure. I have big dreams. In the last two years I have been investing a lot of money and have not yet started reaping from these investments.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
Taking risks and being patient.
5. What are the best things about Somalia?
In Somalia a lot of people are enterprising. Business is the way of life. We are also very resilient. We have survived civil war for more than 20 years. We are uniquely resilient.
6. And the worst?
The conflict is saddening. For years we haven’t been able to get along with each other.
7. Your future career plans?
I would like to build the largest bank in Somalia.
8. How do you relax?
Watching sports like American football and soccer.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
They should take risks and be patient.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
Africa needs to put emphasis on education and build institutions that invest in entrepreneurs. If someone fails they should be given an opportunity again and again. Failure is not death. We should never ever give up. We should seize the opportunities around us.
Liban Abdi Egal is the founder and chairman of First Somali Bank, a new commercial bank that began operations in Mogadishu in May 2012.