Farai Gundan is quietly building her media and tech companies, FaraiMedia and AfricaTripDeals, while showcasing success stories of the men and women of Africa for Forbes and Forbes Africa magazine. Armed with an MBA from Florida A&M University, Farai is fast becoming the “to-go” media expert on doing business in Africa. The World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader, class of 2015, the only one from her native country, Zimbabwe. See her secrets and success story.
Name: Farai Gundan
Position: Co-founder, FaraiMedia & AfricaTripDeals
Location: New York, NY
Hometown: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe & the U.S
The Gig: I am co-founder of two tech companies that focus on Africa; FaraiMedia for online advertising and media advisory and AfricaTripDeals, an end-to-end travel startup. Both are in stealth mode as we develop the back-end of the businesses with my co-founder. I also write for Forbes and Forbes Africa where I celebrate the success stories emerging from Africa. I recently launched #AfricaLeads monthly twitter chats.
The Journey: From a happy childhood in Mpopoma, a township in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to writing about Africa’s leading entrepreneurs and industry captains for Forbes, I have come a long way from my humble beginnings. My mother, a single parent, made some very smart decisions in raising my younger sister and I. She enrolled us in a private school for girls in Zimbabwe and instilled the power of education in us from a very young age. I got a full scholarship to Beloit College in Wisconsin.
Business 101: Time is the most valuable asset, so I would encourage anyone to invest it wisely. If possible, identify early in life where your talent and passions lie—youth is finite—you want to use those years to sharpen your craft so that you can become an elite performer and producer in your field.
Confessions of a Black Woman in International Business: Raising capital for a startup is a major challenge especially for an “unproven” market such as Africa. However, it is up to us to prove the viability of Africa as an economic frontier. To get around this my co-founder and I decided to do two things; “boot-strap” which takes longer and is really hard (but well worth it in the end) as well as “build it and they will come” with the anticipation that with traction and a viable business model, we will attract the right investment partners.
Her Biggest Lesson Learned: “Failure” is one of life’s best teachers—learn from it, leverage the experience into a win, pay close attention to the hidden lesson in “failure” and most importantly, stay in faith…
Time-Saving Tip: I learnt from Zimbabwe’s most successful entrepreneur and telecommunications mogul, Mr. Strive Masiyiwa that you get ahead of the game by developing the habit of rising up early in the morning. For me that means, no matter what, I am up by 5AM to drink a big glass of water, pray, get my mind into “victory” mode, work out and prepare for the day ahead. I also learnt that it is the exercise of making small and wise daily decisions that morph into big wins!
Her Mantra: Find the best and most efficient way to serve your customers, the people that you work for and work with; there is tremendous joy and a rich reward that comes with that!
Network Tip: Be deliberate and smart in your networking, and most importantly be of service to your network; I count Africa’s richest woman, oil mogul and billionaire, Madam Folorunso Alakija as one of my personal mentors and confidantes.
Her Smartest Advice: Mr. Masiyiwa advises that “the opportunity is in the problem. The moment I see a problem, I immediately begin to think about the opportunities that can be created by trying to solve it.” This revolutionized the way I viewed the continent and its much storied “problems.” The advice also helped recalibrate my thinking on Africa’s media narrative.
Her Career Milestones: In 2013, I wrote my first cover story for Forbes Life Africa featuring supermodel Alek Wek and produced the photo shoot. My ‘a-ha’ moment was when I chatted with Ms. Oprah Winfrey on her show, “Oprah: The After Show.” Ms. Winfrey is a master communicator and after having a great conversation with her on national TV, I knew I had a story to tell.
Her Stress Relievers: I am a foodie, so great food, lots of travel, my family and close circle of friends. I work out to relieve stress and sneak in a massage or facial whenever I can.
Tech Must-Haves: I love my gadgets. Samsung phone, Samsung Galaxy camera, Bose headphones, Monster Superstar portable speakers, Sony recorder, iPad, Mac Airbook and portable hard drives. I stayed connected and most importantly I can work on the go anywhere with my “mobile office.”
Her Beauty Bag: I obsess about my health and my skin; water, facial moisturizer and sunscreen. Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick by Stila and Smoky Extravagant mascara by Make-Up-Forever are my regulars.
Her Secret Superpower: My Bible. I feed, nourish and replenish my spirit, soul and mind daily with the Word of God. I quote and meditate on scriptures for inspiration and guidance. I am currently reading the entire Bible in 90-days.