‘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.
Rebecca Enonchong, founder and CEO of AppsTech
1. What was your first job?
It was a job selling newspaper subscriptions door-to-door after I arrived in the US. I was 15 years old. It was a fantastic learning experience. You learn that even when ten doors slam in your face, the eleventh can be the one that will buy from you. It taught me to never give up.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
My newspaper job boss, Bill Mussenden. He made me a manager when I was 17 years old. He was my earliest mentor and remained someone I could rely on even when I went on to other jobs. A lot has been said about “pale and male” and the difficulties of being a woman in business, especially a black woman. But in my case, my biggest breaks and greatest support has come from white men.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Making sure I can make payroll… and that is it. The rest of it, I can deal with during the day. I also tend to prepare for the following day by running through it in detail in my head. I will then get up and take notes, or type them on my laptop. This helps me be completely prepared.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
First I would say my faith. I made God AppsTech’s chairman of the board. So he is my boss and knowing that you have a boss like that helps in two ways. First, you work to meet the boss’ standards and ethics. Secondly you have this support that is unbelievable. It’s like having a super powerful partner.
I am not afraid of hard work, I actually enjoy working – that is essential to succeed. Finally, I would say discipline and the ability to remain focused. Those are key for execution.
5. What are the best things about your country, Cameroon?
6. And the worst?
The sense of inertia. It feels like things don’t move. There are infrastructural issues as well.
7. Your future career plans?
I want to continue to grow my business. I am working on more international expansion.
8. How do you relax?
Relax? What’s that? But when I need to, I simply cut myself off from everything and just spend some time with myself.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
Work hard, think big and never give up. When you do experience success, stay humble. Success is not linear; you will experience ups and downs. Humility helps keep it all in perspective.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
By including women in the decision making process. Too often, women are relegated to secondary or supporting roles. This means that input from some of the greatest minds isn’t considered and the result is half [of] what it could be. Africa, with leadership from men and women alike, will be the greatest continent on earth.
Rebecca Enonchong is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, a global provider of enterprise application solutions serving clients in more than 50 countries. The company has had a footprint in Cameroon and Africa for over 10 years. Enonchong is also a mentor and advisor to several Africa-based technology start-ups and sits on the board of VC4Africa, an online community dedicated to entrepreneurs and investors building companies in Africa.