By Tony Kwame Ansah, Jr
On June 13th of 2019, I (Tony Kwame Ansah, Jr or T.A.) had the pleasure of interviewing Bongajum Lesley Ndzi (B.L.N.). A Cameroonian young man who has built a prototype gym bike to solve issues with health and electricity in Cameroon and elsewhere. He is also the winner of the NEXT GEN in the Franchising Global Competition, the GAIA AgTech Innovation Challenge, and most recently the 2019 African Youth Energy Innovation award. The purpose of our conversation was to talk about his personal development as an entrepreneur. Although there’s a saying “to not mix business with pleasure,” our persona influences risk we take as humans, especially for those willing to build a prototype product like Bongajum.
Without any further or due, the following written content is the full interview. Read now and be inspired!
T.A.: What would you do without getting anything in return for it, such as money?
B.L.N.: The question is quite difficult for me to answer. I’m multi-talented, very versatile, and do a lot of different things. For example, one of my recent obsessions is doing a lot of research on the wellness industry. I offer others advice about how to eat and live well. I also try to implement that on myself too. Overall, I can say that I’m obsessed with the wellness industry, such as the ways the food we eat is being cultivated, to how it is prepared for us to eat and how we take care of ourselves.
T.A.: What gives you tremendous joy in life?
B.L.N.: I just want to have time for myself and to be free.
T.A.: What is something you would do every day if you could or something you can’t survive without doing it every day?
B.L.N.: I can’t survive without talking to loved ones. I love just hanging out with others and just chat and talk and have fun. Right now, I’m always on my phone. I go to the toilet on my phone. I’m obsessed with my phone. Sometimes when I am bathing, I want to use my phone.
T.A.: What is your strong Why for wellness?
B.L.N.: It comes from my background and how I grew up in the village. I have this predisposition of seeing all my peers and me included having weight issues. I saw my entire family suffer from this. So I decided that I should be able to break the curse in my family. I realized that in life everything we do depends of how we feel. You can’t be productive if you’re not in a good state of mind. No matter the industry that you want to be in, whether it be in tech, medicine, law, or athletics, we must be strong. In looking at my society, I was very strong when I was young. I never had to go to the hospital. One of the recurring diseases is maybe malaria, which you can’t escape from. But when I was in the village, I was eating everything natural. We would grow our food, we would grow everything, and we would have time to go out and play. No body was getting sick. I didn’t know of things like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or so. Those were rare things. But it has become normal now because of the way the media has painted all this junk food. You see how someone in the village doesn’t value palm wine. They would rather drink maybe Fanta or Coca Cola or so. Not knowing that palm wine is even healthier and is better for your system. Because of the corporate politics, people have destroyed and African is almost being destroyed. People find pleasure poisoning themselves through food and other lifestyle choices that’ll only lead us to our early grave. That’s, the reason why I decided I’m going to work this out. I’ve seen it as a generational thing and need to trash it out.
T.A.: What is your special gift or talent that people compliment you on?
B.L.N.: People always compliment me on my problem-solving skills. I have different phases of me. For example, people would say that I’m very good at poetry and poems. Some people would say that I’d be good at journalism. At some point, I got confused. One special thing that I know for sure is the way I handle things through problem solving.
T.A.: What’s 1 strength and 1 weakness that you have?
B.L.N.: One of my highest weaknesses is trying to please everyone. One of my key strengths is being a peoples’ person.
T.A.: What is 1 future goal or 1 upcoming goal that you have right now?
B.L.N.: Right now, on my table, in the next few weeks I want to finish with my MBA. By June, I should be able to check that off my list. That’s, the one thing on my mind. Once I check that off, I’ll focus on my business. I’ve always loved to graduate from an Ivy League school. I think that I’ve been able to receive some recognition that has boosted myself confidence. Now, I can apply for such schools on a fully sponsored master’s program in either the US or UK. My ultimate goal is to be financially independent by way of being an Ivy League graduate. It may give me the connects that I need in life.
T.A.: What are your action plans to make these goals possible?
B.L.N.: Right now, everything I do is get up & sleep, write my thesis, go to the gym, and so on. Those are the only options that I have on my table right now. I need money to keep all these things going. All my money is coming from the business (Levre Rose) that I’m running. I’m depending on my business to help me foot my bills. I’ll be applying for scholarship programs and joining accelerators soon. The goal is to raise fund for the Power Bike project. It is a huge project that aligns with my desires and ambitions. Through this project, everything will fall into place for me.
Article about Bonga Power Bike here:
T.A.: Do you believe in accountability?
B.L.N.: Yes, I think in business that’s the base, especially for someone who wants to grow a business or brand to an international level. If you want to make impact or create impact, it’s the base. I think that I have this as a problem. I strongly believe if I had someone to hold me accountable that I would be more productive. I had this feeling recently. At one point of time, when I’m evaluating myself, I just waste a lot of my time and nothing comes of it. For example, in school, they give you assignments, deadlines, and so on. This is where one can be productive. Accountability comes with discipline.
T.A.: How will you assess your progress?
B.L.N.: I always set goals and I struggle, and I plan to achieve those goals. At the end of the process, most of the time it doesn’t come out as I planned or set it. I always find myself doing other things that I never set as goals. At the end of the day and after a period, I always ask myself: am I different from where I was, what are some of the things that I can consider as achievements? If I’m able to see myself in this light, then I can have a peace of mind and feel comfortable. Most of the goals that I’ve set for myself in the past I couldn’t achieve them either because they were too high or unrealistic or something happened beyond my control.
It was great having a conversation with you brother. Until we speak again, stay blessed, stay strong, peace be unto you, later. Watch out for a potential podcast interview with Bongajum Lesley Ndzi in 2019.
Connect with Bongajum here:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony K Ansah, Jr., M.P.A. is a self-published author and a social entrepreneur based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. He has written and published several books and content via poems, quotes, fiction, non-fiction, blogs and articles. Tony is also the founder and owner of Ansah Africa, a consulting and marketing startup that connects donors in the U.S.A. with nonprofits in Africa to solve global problems, which was established in 2017.
Copyright © 2019 by Tony Kwame Ansah Jr
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Always great reading your work because seeing the beginning in Buea and the man you are now is a testimony to the fact that it pays to be persistent and focus. Great job boss
One word “INSPIRING”