Returning home from abroad and leaving the hotel industry might not be her original plan. Still, while travelling, working and living abroad, Fatou Njie realised that she could return to The Gambia and use all her knowledge and experiences to make a change in the country.
Focusing on health and nutrition, she first opened Manna Bakery & Café in Kololi (former Dream park). It was established first of its kind in The Gambia, offering a wide variety of nutritious, healthy meals, vegan-friendly alternatives, great coffee, mixed grains loaf & mixed seed loaf, salads, smoothies, and so much more!
At the end of January, Fatou Njie opened a Phenomenal Women wellness centre that focuses on fitness, nutrition, and care of the women in The Gambia.
We wanted to explore more about her and her story as she is a role model for every woman.
I started working in the hospitality industry in 2005, and whiles I was working, I was going to hotel school to complete my diploma. I was looking for a career path that I would get bored with early and love. With the options available, hospitality was the closest.
It was fun, and we were well trained to the best standard and full of opportunities. I was lucky to have cross-training with all the departments in the hotel, which gave me a strong background on how a hotel operates.
Revenue management is a combination of finance, sales and marketing. I had worked in the finance department for a couple of years; also, I always loved numbers and the fact that you can work quietly, so Revenue management was the perfect career path for me then. I still loved it; the mid-month and month-end deadline reports to predict how a hotel will perform in the next day, next week, next month, next year, and three years to come was cool. The entire operations of the hotel rely on that information you give every day, from the kitchen and housekeeping to the engineering department.
My husband and I love bread, and he is from Canada, where bagel is famous. We thought, why not have bagels in The Gambia and all the other bread we discovered during our travels.
Most of the ideas are from the things we loved to eat and our travels.
Yes, of course, like many business owners in the Gambia, we ended up outsourcing some of our ingredients.
Not really, our customers understand what we are selling to them, at first they are surprised.
We supply supermarkets at Discount, Target, Rightchoice, My supermarket, Alvihag, and all around the Senegambia highway.
We use the best products in the market for our bread.
We want Gambians to start looking at what they eat - not just to fill their stomach but to benefit their body. Healthy can be tasty.
Working hard to keep our standards and our customers satisfied.
I used to go to this place the time I was in Tajikistan; only women would come for workouts, women from 65 going down. It was fun and powerful; they will share and support each other. I said that is what we need in The Gambia. Also, women of all ages would go to the salon to care for themselves; they took time for themselves. How often do we do that for ourselves? That is why we opened Phenomenal Women for women to take care of themselves from the inside out.
Maintaining our services and keeping our clients happy by going through the journey of wellness with them.
Yes, I work with many female trainers; they are Gambians and mothers too. We have a personal training session; we offer passes, and you can choose your time with a trainer; all that information is available at Phenomenal Women.
Cardio, Zumba, TRX and Strength.
We employed from schools, and we train them as the management to our standard and we follow-up, and also we get feedback from customers, especially the not good. Once we know, we find out how we can do better and make sure we don't repeat the mistake again. Everyone working for Manna and Phenomenal knew that our number one motor is to respect one another, from the cleaning lady to management, knowing that we all contribute to the business's success.
Yes, of course, and since we opened during Covid, we have not really experienced a good flow of the customers yet.
I think we are bringing more awareness of wellness to the Gambians, and also coming back home to invest in my own country and giving jobs to 25 plus Gambians will reduce the unemployment rate and bring new skills for young Gambians who have not had the opportunity to travel outside the country to learn something new.
I have dedicated employees, we work together so well, and when we have a problem, we find a solution together. My husband is like my therapist; I talk to him about everyday challenges and success, he supports me, and I have a lot of good and honest people around me.
They say if you have, give, and if you know, then teach. I have been giving back since I was young, and I just continue to share with people.