Meet the Boss: Tiguidanke Camara, founder, Tigui Mining Group (Guinea)

"I am not ready to die-out in this business. I’m here to stay," says Tiguidanke Camara, founder of Tigui Mining Group.

“I am not ready to die out in this business. I’m here to stay,” says Tiguidanke Camara, founder of Tigui Mining Group.

1. What was your first job?

Modelling. I started at age 12.

2. What parts of our job keep you awake at night?

Every aspect of it. The biggest one is really how to raise funds. You can have many great ideas, but if you don’t have the means to bring them to fruition, it is difficult. So raising funds, and how smart I can be to get the next funds in, is what keeps me awake.

3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career, and why?

Tony Carroll (the ministerial relations director of the Mining Indaba). I met him at a [past] Indaba and the reason why I think he has had a big impact on my career is because he always gave me time and listened to me. He never thought that I was too small, young or just a woman. He has never been like that. He always took time to give me advice and to help me navigate the Indaba and meet so many people.

And by doing that he helped me feel at home in this industry, even though he is too humble to [acknowledge] that.

4. The best professional advice you have ever received?

I believe it was to know the industry… to come to forums and meet other people in the industry. By doing so it has helped me a great deal because now I understand how the mining sector functions. I know the mining terms, because there is a whole mining language you have to understand. If you don’t understand the language, you don’t understand the industry as a whole and it very difficult to move forward – especially during negotiations.

5. And the top reasons you have been successful in business?

I have tenacity and I am not ready to die out in this business. I’m here to stay and I want to grow.

Other reasons include the passion I have and my will to learn.

6. In your opinion, where is the best place to learn for leadership: business school or on the job?

I think on the job. School is also important because it gives you the basics, but actual business life has to be [experienced]. So you have to be book smart and street smart.

Mostly, only a small part of what I learnt at school applies in real life. The fact that I had that background knowledge helped me… But I think the best way of learning is to be right in the middle of it.

7. How do you relax?

I guess it is while I’m still working on my computer with the TV on, and I’m multitasking with watching the news or a movie.

I also do like to socialise. I am still young so I try to make time to also be among my friends. We go out and have dinner; sometimes we even go clubbing.

8. What time do you like to be at your desk?

I wake up every day between 5am and 6am, and then my desk is in my bed because I am on my computer.

9. Your favourite job interview question?

Why someone really wants this job. Because what is important to me is someone who is not just looking for a salary, but something they love doing. If you just go into a job because of the money, you might get the money, but you could be miserable and maybe you might not be that efficient at the end of the day.

But if you do something you love, there is no way you won’t be successful because you will do your job right. So that’s the main thing I look for – why someone really wants a job.

10. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?

My message is the same for all young entrepreneurs and people – have passion! Don’t just do things for the money. That will come, but you have to love what you want to do so that you can put in the right time and effort to learn… and then you will definitely succeed. You can’t succeed if you don’t love it because you won’t be able to put in the time [to grow].

And integrity is a big part of business. Your reputation will precede you everywhere. You might be good at what you do but people might not want to be in business with you… Also be reliable.

Tiguidanke Camara is the founder of Tigui Mining Group (TMG), a company involved in mostly mining and agriculture operations in West Africa. Its subsidiary, Camara Diamond & Gold Trading Network, owns mining licences in gold, diamond and associated minerals spanning 356km² in Guinea. TMG has also launched a gold prospection project in Côte d’Ivoire.

Camara was born and raised in Guinea and started modelling at age 12. After completing a degree in business management in Morocco, she moved to New York to pursue modelling full-time and has been featured in a number of well-known magazines, including GQ and Marie Claire.

Camara returned to her home country in 2009 to start her career in mining. Today TMG is the only woman-owned mining company in Guinea.