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Future Saipanpreneur in New York Massoud Maduqu
The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
Those of you who frequented Saipan’s GIG nightclub from 2005-2006 may remember "Mass" as the club's bouncer on weekends. He was back this week for a six-day escape from New York.
In speaking with Mass over the course of his short return to Saipan, I heard elements of a success story of sorts, details of his eye-opening, mind-changing experience in New York, and the beginnings of what may be a future Saipanpreneur profile! I asked Mass to share some of his thoughts and insights for the benefit of those of us here on Saipan.
What was life like growing up in Ghana?
Mass: Life in Ghana was more of a struggle, especially when it comes to doing business. A lot of foreigners are scared to come to Africa because of what they’ve heard. There are a lot of misconceptions. So, it’s more difficult to encourage people to come here and invest.
My own life was normal. My dad owned a hardware store in Ghana. My mother was a sales agent who traveled to other countries buying and selling products. I have two brothers and two sisters. Things were hard, but we survived.
Where did you go to school?
Mass: I went to Harvard College in KoKomnemne, a suburb in Accra. I majored in accounting and got my GCE (General Certificate of Education) in 1993.
What did you do while in Ghana?
Mass: I was a sales agent for a company that sold handicrafts. Like my mother, I traveled to other countries in Africa to sell the crafts. I’ve been to Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo.
What brought you to Saipan?
Mass: In 2002, I decided I wanted to live in another country. I left Ghana, passed through Thailand, and finally to Hong Kong. Even though I wanted to live in another country, I wanted to do something that would benefit my people in Ghana. So I decided to buy products to send back to my business partner in Ghana to sell. I lived in Hong Kong for two months.
While in Hong Kong I met some other Ghanaians who were involved in import and export. There were five of us who decided to explore some other opportunities. One of those friends told me about Saipan. We asked the travel agent about Saipan. We got here in 2002.
Things were hard for us at first, but thanks to people like Anthony Long, Joe Hill, and Willie Brundidge Jr., we found people who helped us survive, and get on our feet. I stayed on for six years. Eventually I got my green card, and decided to see what New York was like to earn money for my family. I left for New York in December 2007.
What do you do in New York now?
Mass: I first started working as a security guard at one company. I’ve worked at three different companies so far. Now, I’m supervisor of AII Security and Investigation in Bronx, New York. I also drive a taxi when I’m off.
Do you like living in New York?
Mass: Well, I’ve been in New York for just over a year. In my opinion, people in New York are not friendly. It’s overcrowded. Anything that you want to do in New York is more difficult and takes more time. Even to go to the post office to mail a letter, you have to spend 30 minutes in line just to do that! It’s more difficult to start a business there because most people are not trustworthy.
You’ve lived in Africa, Hong Kong, China, Saipan, and now New York. What makes Saipan so different?
Mass: What makes Saipan so different is many things. There is more harmony here on Saipan. People are friendlier. It’s easier to get accommodations here on Saipan. It was easier to meet people and make friends when I lived here on Saipan. Living in New York has made me a bit more suspicious of strangers. There’s less crime and less scams here on Saipan. In the U.S., people can start a business, put it in the newspaper, advertise it all over the radio and television, and it’s actually a scam! That’s amazing.
On Saipan, you can go to the store, and leave your car door open. I wouldn't do that in New York. I haven’t seen as much crime as I thought there would be, based on TV and movies, but there’s still more fear there.
Growing up in Ghana, life was different. When you see someone doing something wrong, or if they’re misbehaving, in Ghana, you can say, "Hey don’t do that,” or “This place is a very clean place, why don’t you put your garbage in the trash?" In New York, I would advise you to keep out of people’s affairs. If you’re a police officer, you can tell people what to do, but in New York, everyone else should mind their own business!
To be fair, what are some of the good things about living in New York?
Mass: Well, there’s more buying and selling in New York. So, it’s easier to make quick money if you have something to sell. Another good thing about New York is that if you’re lost and ask somebody for directions, everyone will help you!
It seems New York is where immigrants love living because they have more freedom, and it’s easier to start a business. I’ve met Caribbeans, Asians, and many Africans who go there to start their own businesses.
How has living in New York changed your perspective on life and business?
Mass: I realize now, more than ever, that I need to start my own business. Better something on the Internet, so I can have the chance to come back to Saipan, or any place I want to be. I can use my accounting background, my sales experience in handcrafts, and my connections in New York and Africa to create a business. Maybe I'll sell products from African craftspeople and do some of the same things I was doing in Ghana, but this time online.
You mentioned coming back to Saipan?
Mass: Walt, when I lived on Saipan, I hadn’t realized how much of a paradise it was. After living in New York, I can say this is the most beautiful place to live. This place is beautiful. When I was here, I always thought anyplace else would be better than Saipan. But when I left, I realized things were different. I would encourage people to really appreciate what they have here.
One of the things I wanted to do was go to the beach in New York so my friends and I went to Coney Island Beach. It’s like there was oil floating on the water! Saipan's beaches are much nicer.
What advice would you give to others here on Saipan?
Mass: I believe those people who moved away from Saipan will eventually come back. If they’re honest with themselves, they’ll realize they don’t have the same good life that Saipan has.
Even now, I don’t want to go back. But, I have to. My job is waiting for me.
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Thanks for sharing, Mass. Best of success back in New York, and please keep us informed of your future business ventures! I'll give you a little head start:
Note: Anyone wishing to purchase African crafts, or make a business contact with a Ghanaian in New York, can contact Mass at SaipanMass@gmail.com
Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that said good things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to www.bestofsaipan.com!
Note: Fans and followers of Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan may now find copies at Bookseller Bookstore in the Joe-Ten Plaza in Susupe or on Amazon.com.Hurry, there's a limited supply!
Note: For more tips on overcoming your fears, acting on your ideas, changing the game, and creating a passion-centered lifestyle, visit www.passionprofit.com!
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Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!
Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of 12 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several successful businesses in the US, and now makes his home here in Saipan. To learn more about the Saipanpreneur Project and Walt's philosophy and formula visit www.saipanpreneur.com and www.passionprofit.com.
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WHERE IS SAIPAN?
Located in the western pacific, a short flight from Guam and 3 hours from Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a popular tourist destination rich in history, culture and natural resources. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, is the largest and most populated of the 14 islands making up an archipelago that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench.
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