Edison Fru Ndi as modern Cameroon’s one-size-feet-all and resilient entrepreneur
This reflection is inspired by the fact that unlike other businesses and entrepreneurs who saw the population of Bamenda simply as consumers of their products and who were quick to escape from Bamenda when the conflict escalated, Edison Fru Ndi, being an illustrious son of the Region deemed that it was right and just to stay besides his people, under rain, under shine.
It is the more informed by the morale in Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Swarm Dwellers’, to the effect that it was of ‘no earthly use changing one slough for another’ as insecurity anywhere is insecurity everywhere and that grass is greenest where it is watered.
It is also inspired by the fact that Edison’s tenacity has not only given hope to many hopeless youths from the Region who, even if they wanted to leave the Region they wouldn’t have had anywhere else to go, he had not only continued to light up the lives of many but is also using his hard earned resources to keep the few remaining citizens in Bamenda free of COVID19 pandemic by providing state-of-the-art thermoflashes to key institutions in the Region.
If one were to go by statistics presented by North West Governor, Aldolphe Lele L’afrique during the 2018 International Labour Day in Bamenda, to the effect that the crisis had let to the loss of 20000 jobs and to over 100 businesses closing shop, it would go without saying that virtually every business is folding up in the Region. This can only mean that more and more people go jobless everyday. This can only mean that if more and more sons and daughters of the Region are not taking bold decisions to be resilient, the situation would have to get worse before it gets better.
And getting worse means more and more youths would become frustrated. Flattening the curve requires resilient entrepreneurs like Edison Fru Ndi.
Resilience, it has been said, is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. It is for this that Edison continues to hang on believing that no one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet, from pain comes wisdom, from fear comes courage, from suffering can come strength, if one has the sense of resilience. Given that to be an entrepreneur requires a special combination of boldness and humility, it is always a beautiful thing to see that one has contributed to building something that society needs. Hence, Dreamland Snack bar in Nkwen-Bamenda-an expansion of the dream Edison Fru Ndi has of Bamenda. In every venture he undertakes, Edison Fru Ndi as a real entrepreneur, looks past short-term setbacks and focuses on the long-term mission… Transforming Bamenda into a Dreamland is Edison Fru Ndi’s ultimate mission.
Although Edison Fru Ndi is today’s most popular guy in the city of Bamenda and even beyond, he doesn’t allow that to define him as he doesn’t need any of that to tell him who he is.
As one of those rare people who have been blessed with an absolutely clear view of himself, he not only does get virtually everything right, but he gets it right ahead of everyone else.
Being one fellow who has been consistently captivating, Edison Fru Ndi is an original entrepreneurial storyteller with warmth, humour and a style and voice all his own.
As one of the few Cameroon entrepreneurs who have gone past the level of looking for money to that of money working for them, Edison Fru Ndi still believes that the way out is to drive your car rather than allow your car to drive you around. To this effect, he continues to see a car as a piece of mechanical engineering that enables one move from one place to the order for easy business transactions rather than a status symbol. While so many individuals of his standing are defined by their car, he defined his car as he continues to see it as a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Just as Zig Ziggler, one of America’s great authors and motivational speaker, said of his father that although he decided to swing the Bible in order to save souls, he later realized that in saving souls he could also put food on his table, so too, Edison
Fru Ndi decided in the late 90s to make Bamenda a tourist attraction by setting up high definition restaurants and entertainment joints and only to soon realize that such services could also put food on his table. Hence, the Clarion call to all categories of visitors to Bamenda and even those who have made it within Bamenda to put their money where their mouths are.
After doing a thorough environmental scan in the late 90s through to the early 2000s to realize that Bamenda lacked a restaurant worth it’s salt and pepper, and after overcoming initial challenges and long held conservative beliefs that a high flying restaurant could not exist past it’s first anniversary in Bamenda, Edison Fru Ndi took the bull by the horns and launched his first major venture, Dreamland Restaurant, at Bamenda’s Central Business District otherwise known as Commercial Avenue. The success of the venture beyond the wildest imaginations attracted and inspired many an entrepreneur who gathered up the courage and jumped into high definition restaurants in Bamenda. A new business window had opened.
Just like God on creating Adam realized suddenly, abruptly, that it was not good for a man to be alone, Edison Fru Ndi, after the initial success realized that it wasn’t good for a city like Bamenda to be without an equally high definition cabaret. Hence, Dreamland Cabaret that was rated then, and prior to the visit of President Biya in 2010 in Bamenda, as the best in the CEMAC zone.
In fact, Edison Fru Ndi has a lot of stuff on his mind. From packaging sand into bags the same way cement is done, through creating a free trade zone or dry port in Bamenda or thereabouts, to transforming the erstwhile municipal stadium in Bamenda into a second main market, and looking elsewhere for a robust stadium. Edison Fru Ndi is a unique Cameeroonian mind. And in more ways than one, his entrepreneurial journey takes you inside that mind. When you come out of that mind, you’ll be smiling, laughing and hodding in agreement.
At a time when people in the Region that youths once looked up to, spend time poisoning their minds on the ills of government and urging the youths to fight on, Edison Fru Ndi is rather of the opinion that the best way for youths to fight off over-dependence on noisy Yaounde is to get them fully engaged in entrepreneurial ventures. As a motivational and entrepreneurial coach, he makes an umpteenth youth in Bamenda who come around him to understand that grass is greenest where it is watered and that anyone with an entrepreneurial mind would see money even in gutters in a Bamenda that many have for long considered dry land.
The pull of entrepreneurs Edison is painstakingly building for tomorrow’s Cameroon reminds me of John Madden’s account of Donald Trump. Long before Donald Trump ever thought of competing for the U.S Presidency, John Madden, football commentator and former NFL games coach recalls how he was sitting and waiting for food in a restaurant and a tall and heavily built person came in with his wife and introduced himself as Donald Trump. He then invited Donald Trump to join them on the table, and as they waited for the food, Donald Trump marveled all of them on his business acquisition plans, his views on the US economy, his engagement in building a totally new generation of American business entrepreneurs, and much more. He said Donald . had the same quick mind, and more than anything else, the same curiosity about everything. According to Madden, you would think Donald Trump would be talking all the time. Instead, he was asking questions and really listening. Since after that meeting, John Madden said, he had wished to meet Trump again, but would only hear him negotiating and buying over one multi trillion business or the other, until he was chaired into the Whitehouse, after completing the Trump Tower. The ambitions may not be the same for our own Edison Fru Ndi, but in terms of business acumen, there seems to be more in common with the two entrepreneurs.
It is this and much more that qualifies Edison Fru Ndi as the one-size-feet-all and resilient entrepreneur
The Muteff Boy’s take