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My name is Tonia Dabwe. I am an entrepreneur, business advisor and project manager who focuses on providing real-life business advice to small and medium-sized companies in Africa. I am the daughter of a Liberian father and Dutch mother, and was born and raised in Liberia. During the Liberian civil war, I lived in Ivory Coast before moving to the Netherlands to continue my studies. I hold Masters degrees in Business Economics and Business Administration, majoring in Banking & Finance.
Before starting Guide My Growth, I spent over 20 years working in the private and public sectors. Over 11 years ago, I founded and continue to manage a local NGO in Liberia that provides vocational and business training to mainly women and youth. Six years ago, I became a full-time entrepreneur when I started my own consultancy in the Netherlands. My clients are European and African. My experience taught me much about businesses operations and growth, exceptional management, and finance.
Guide My Growth is a place for me to share my knowledge about business growth with African entrepreneurs who often struggle with how to grow their business. Having worked as the person giving money and also as the person asking for money, I understand both sides of the equation. This has given me exceptional insight into what investors, banks and other funders are looking for when they make decisions about giving money to businesses, as well as a large network in various countries. Guide My Growth’s tagline, “Start.Grow.Thrive” points to the desire to see businesses using this knowledge to grow into larger businesses, and to reach the point where, thriving, they can have a positive impact in their communities and countries.
My ambition is to develop Guide My Growth into the number 1 online resource for African small and medium enterprises who want to grow their business. SMEs from other continents are of course also most welcome!
I am the winner of the International African Woman of the Year (London, 2013) award from Women4Africa, and have been featured in multiple Dutch, Liberian and international media for my NGO’s work in Liberia.
In addition, I have written articles for the Broker and the Knowledge Platform for Rule of Law and Security, and have spoken at many events and conferences in the Netherlands, UK, Italy, Liberia and online.
For the past 15 years, I have also supported mainly female entrepreneurs as an informal investor and lender.
In my free time, you will find me at a museum enjoying art, traveling, hiking, taking pictures, reading or dancing salsa.
I currently divide my time between the Netherlands and Liberia.
Why am I giving advice for free?
One reason is that more and more African businesses are asking me to help them get funding to grow, but I see that they have not reached the quality level that banks or investors require. As a result, I can not work with them, and they remain in the same situation. Helping businesses reach a higher level is therefore a win-win for them and for me.
Secondly, it is only possible for me to work with a limited number of businesses at the same time. Through my blog, I can reach many businesses at the same time and I do not have to leave anybody struggling.
Finally, when you study the economies of developed countries, you will see that SMEs create over 65% of jobs. Leading to economic growth and increased wealth. I am proud to see this on one side of my heritage (Europe), and want to contribute to that same development for the other half of my heritage (Africa).
However, the knowledge on this blog is not only for African businesses. Any business looking for a path to growth and sustainability can apply this advice and use it to get to a higher level of success. No matter what size you are today.
Some of my professional results
Just a few examples:
- Helped West African businesses raise 700K USD for growth
- Evaluated funding applications submitted to the African Development Bank’s Agriculture Fast Track fund
- Developed a strategy to support the growth of micro and small Dutch businesses
- Worked as an interim manager to launch a new healthcare organisation – a joint venture between 3 partners – from scratch
- Provided business advice to boards of directors and managers at various large Dutch healthcare organisations
- Successfully managed multiple projects in the Netherlands ranging from 500K to 10M EUR
START. GROW. THRIVE.
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