Money will never be enough!

Life is a beautiful journey, filled with many a bad time but even more great moments/memories. When those great moments are met with purpose, there are no words to explain how powerful and exciting life can be.

Many of us wake up each day to go work for something. My hope is that it will be to work for a purpose NOT money. Working for many, i.e chasing money, is an endless race that never end because money will NEVER be enough.

Working for and toward something bigger than yourself i.e. purpose, those hard days and especially great moments along the way, will bring meaning to your life and A LOT of satisfaction.

Live purposefully, take in every moment good or bad, all will bring great lessons or great memories. LIVE IT UP☺️

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Life and Times of A #CashlessGal about Africa – Senegal 🇸🇳

Last week I had the unforgettable pleasure of visiting Dakar for the very first time on this #CashlessAfrica tour. Dakar is one of the most beautiful and promising cities I’ve visited so far, certainly the most welcoming and friendly. The welcome from the plane, down to immigration – luggage and the hotel, I experienced unmatched welcome that was truly a great example of what it means to be PAN AFRICAN.

Right off the plane I was wowing! Throw in a touch of Rwanda with my lovely RwandAir to make me home sick for a moment, and Ecobank Mobile App, the best on the continent for Payments, remittances and more, to remind me why I’m here☺️.

There she is, our dream RwandAir, flying away from to Kigali without me.

Newly minted terminal welcomes you.

How is this for a cashless welcome☺️. Get you the Ecobank Mobile App and enjoy a cashless existence including the ability to send and receive money from 33 African countries in the palm of your hands☺️, which only Ecobank, THE Pan African Bank can do for you.

Immigration was a breeze and I walked away with only a stamp, no Visa hassle whatsoever🙌🏾. Luggage took all of 5 minutes or so, and off I was out of this beautiful airport built in the desert, bringing with it development of a metropolis now sprouting with impeccable roads with tolls in place to maintain them and pay off that investment. Dakar definitely shows Africa is rising.

The food in Senegal is super flavorful with my favorite being chep, the best rice you’ll ever eat. Thanks to this mouth watering treat, I forgot to take a pic. And by the time I remembered to take a pic of my baobab juice, glass was near bottom.

Baobab is the most important tree in Senegal and this giant is rightly the national tree, you can’t cut one down lest you face the law.

After a hearty meal of the best rice and other veggy goodness they manage to make flavorful, you must have Senegalese tea to help digest everything. I believe it’s a green tea beautiful spices that you can easily miss that bitter after taste.

As you drive to King Fahad Hotel, there’s lots to take in. What I loved most were the beach front gyms along the road☺️. Any body weight machine is there! You enjoy the breeze and take in the gorgeous sunset.

Many getting a work out in.

This monument of a runner, I think, put a smile on my face.

How beautiful is the sunset!

There’s no question I fell in love with Dakar and can’t wait to see what #CashlessSenegal will achieve for this beautiful country.

On my last day in Dakar, I visited Goree Island, what a harrowing experience. As I walked through the dungeons our people where held, my heart sunk as my eyes welled up in anger! This UNESCO Heritage site, is the last place our strongest saw before being stolen and sold off! I will write about this in the future after processing it all.

Dare to BE. Happy Tuesday☺️

This excerpt is a gem, one of the best and most inspiring I’ve read. Thought I’d share – hope are as encouraged as I am and share🙏🏾.

“Dare to Be

When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.

When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.

When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.

When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.

When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.

When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.

When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.

When times are tough, dare to be tougher.

When love hurts you, dare to love again.

When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.

When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.

When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.

When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.

When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.

When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.

Dare to be the best you can –

At all times, Dare to be!

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Life and Times Of #CashlessGal about Africa – Reflections from the Road.

There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing a vision on paper, working to make it a reality and especially SEEING the results in lives of people being simplified for the better. This is by far the most exciting aspect of this 8 year journey, in spite of the long hours, sleepless nights, tears (which I cried in an airport today), sneers, noses down my face, straight up intimidation, name it-I probably have seen or faced it on this journey.!

But dare I say, when the day comes where at least 50% Africans are banked and transacting digitally (cashless) to keep money in Africa’s treasuries to fund our development and make us financially independent i.e. off aid/foreign loans, this all will have been absolutely worth it.

As I sit on this flight, that is almost 24 hours out of my way because mother nature had other plans, couldn’t help but stop to think about this choice I’ve made to spend my life working for the digital and financial inclusion of Africans, EVERYWHERE!

For a moment today, as I spoke with my husband waiting for the flight, I broke down – right there in the airport restaurant, with people surrounding me, I just cried like a baby. My husband, who always finds the right things to say, reminded me of the first time we met when I assured him that I was going home to build the continent and inspired him to return after nearly 20 years away, with no plans to do so. He reminded me of how far cashless Rwanda has come and encouraged me to always remember the lives touched by my work. I cried even more before putting myself together as he cracked jokes, as usual to put a smile on my face. It was one of my most vulnerable moments.

One thing is for sure, I never planned for this cashless “thing,” never dreamt it, never thought this would be my cause until I stumbled upon it thanks to a great man, who inspired me to return home and be part of shaping Rwanda’s technology future. I always thought I’d be a policy maker in the office of my beloved president, but God had other plans….and here I am chasing the #CashlessAfrica dream.

Here are a few thoughts about purpose which drives many into leadership, servant leadership in particular.

  1. Leadership is a role that finds you.
  2. Leadership is a CHOICE born out of a deep desire to change your surroundings for the better, inspired by injustice or need. This choice will confront you with the question, if not me, then who?
  3. Leadership is that indescribable thing that keeps you FOCUSED and PERSISTENTLY working on that cause, which you come to believe is your purpose.
  4. Leadership is choosing to give of yourself many a time, taking you away from loved ones and family events and more.
  5. Leadership is NOT glamorous in the least bit, don’t be blinded by the travel and lifestyle of living out of a suitcase on the road. It is a lonely existence most of the time and you spend most of it working that you come back to crash for a few hours of zzzz before waking up early to do it again.
  6. Leadership is choosing to speak up at the right time for things to be better, where – this will not win you fans as most of us are thinking about food at our tables before all else, which I understand.
  7. Leadership is choosing everyday to stay the course in spite of vehement resistance, this I have now grown accustomed to. Be prepared with self love and immovable belief/passion for what you are doing!
  8. Leadership is DOING.
  9. Leadership is a commitment to purpose to the end.
  10. . Leadership is a lonely place and you must find those loving REAL people to quench your soul and encourage you ONWARD.

As you choose this path, be prepared for the TASK. It will not be easy, it’s not meant to be. I pray you’ll have the courage to stay the course.

Tea Time: The Way It Should Be. Thank you @CarlManlan

I am a tea lover and will choose to have it over any beverage anywhere. Our household especially loves black tea with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, lemongrass and mint. As usual, I boil water, put our special spice mix and a teabag for only seconds because the doctor says I should limit my caffeine. This was the best tea, which my husband likes to call fried tea, hehe. We were tea experts, until the Manlans opened my taste buds to the TRUE tea experience.

One fine afternoon, before heading to Accra Mall to work with colleagues on a cashless evening initiative, I had the tea experience of a lifetime at my dear colleague Carl Manlan’s home. And so it was, that lovely Saturday afternoon that my tea life was changed forever. Carl brought out a TRAY of several teas to choose from, most loose leaf. This was first for me and all I could think was all the afternoon teas I’ve been a part have clearly been unserious.

Anyway, I chose my usual lemon and ginger teabag. Carl indulged me while he put together his own mix, which looked like this below. He invited me to try and boy was it good – I still dream of it. I quickly abandoned my boring cup and went of this most gorgeous tea I’ve ever had, accompanied with yummy snacks including a decadent HOMEMADE made chocolate cake all thanks to one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, Lelani Manlan – I was in heaven.

I tried a few mixes until my stomach was filled to capacity.

After this taste bud awakening experience, my love for tea multiplied. Carl also gifted me with a tea mug complete with one of these and every evening I don’t go to sleep without a cup of my herbal tea blend.

I was reminded of a time a tea producer advised that loose tea is the way to go and that tea bags were really a product of what’s left after all the quality tea has been exported to be packaged and branded abroad at a premium. We should keep some of this good tea for ourselves instead of the “stuff” we get in teabags.

Thanks to Carl and his beautiful family, I’m now the proud owner of the Perfect Tea Maker and spreading the gospel of GOOD and real tea :-). Carl, see you in Kigali for afternoon tea, with the Rwandan touch.

Life and Times of The #CashlessGal In Africa Foodie Edition 1 :-).

Today marked the end of the beginning of my journey transversing our beautiful continent, working to see FORMAL financial inclusion for ALL Africans with the help of Digital Payments what I like to call #CashlessAfrica. With a home base in the birth place of Africa’s independence, Ghana and life on the road most of the time, you can imagine I have a lot of stories and I’ll do my best to share.

First up, food.

For a vegetarian East African in Ghana and traveling mostly in West Africa in last 3 months, it has been quite the experience. Meat of many animals and some – if not all their parts; Joloff rice (will share about my favorite); fufu of pounded yam, cassava or fermented corn in either banku or kenke; plantain in all forms, fried plain or with pepper or in some type of cake batter, or steamed and more rice are the order of the day. There’s a time I was super excited to find a dish that looked like spinach in the cafeteria, I was ecstatic, even did a little dance. Unfortunately, this lovely green was ruined with meat, or was it fish, and just like that my high was iced quick! Thankfully, I am now able to enjoy some veg options, albeit with pepper and floating palm oil sometimes :-).

If you are a meat lover, you will love many places in West Africa. If you aren’t, brace yourself because a good salad and my favorite spinach are a hard find. You’ll have to find a great salad place, and this is no easy task. You may also be lucky to find frozen spinach in the supermarket. With a lot of time on the road and many late nights, I eat what I find. Needless to say the carb overload and effects of the road shows around my waist and hips hehe. I laugh but it’s painful work to get back to shape.

For vegetarians:

In Accra, be sure to checkout Bistro 22, Nourish Lab, Sunshine for salads and hearty healthy smoothies. Mango and Wheat have samosas to die for.

In Cotonou, L’Impala and l’imprévu are gems.

In Lomé, Sarakawa, Onomo and Former Radisson can whip up a good salad. Make sure you have google translate to help you ask for specific ingredients.

In Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan Cafe and Salad & Sun were a good treat.

Feel free to share recommendations I can check out next time I visit.

Homemade is BEST

I loooooove sweet things and many times gravitate toward dessert first to determine my main when I go out to eat. If dessert is good, I shall eat a light meal, mostly salad and top it off with dessert, hehe.

Anyway, went grocery shopping yesterday and it took a lot for me to not get dessert. Walked by the chocolate sauces but the ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and shelf life turned me away. Picked up pure untainted Ghana made cocoa instead. Unfortunately, was on the bottom shelf below all the imported ones who probably bought cocoa here for next to nothing, took it “West” processed and tainted it with whatever, packaged and branded it nicely only for us to import it back and pay premium – I digress.

Fact is many times we don’t know what’s been put in the already made food we buy, in grocery shops and restaurants. And for desserts, gelatin is in many including the beloved ice cream – trust me you don’t want gelatin. This is why I strive to make my own food, although leading a single life outside of my beautiful Rwanda has made Jumia a constant part of life, and this may well change after my successfully delicious experiment today. aided by Auntie google.

Thanks to auntie google, got a simple recipe and gave it my own touch. Almond milk in place of water, brown sugar, 100% untainted Ghana Cocoa, a pinch of sea salt and my favorite spice mix courtesy of the best love of my life, made the most delicious chocolate sauce I’ve ever had. Dessert breakfast was heaven in my mouth.

My love for the kitchen is back, hope you too can enjoy more homemade goodness.

Financial Planning and Discipline Are Our ticket To financial freedom.

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but never got around to it until I was reminded this past weekend, when a group of us where talking about the savings culture in Rwanda. Thanks to the national savings week and ongoing cashless payments awareness, we are having these discussions.

Some of us thought Rwandans don’t save, others believed many do we just don’t put it in the bank. Some said they’d rather save in property than the bank. We discussed interest rates, and distrust in banks. Some said many don’t have enough to save, which may indeed be true. Whatever the case, I think these are good discussions we should have at dinner tables with our family, especially the majority youth among us.

Growing up is great and something to look forward to.  And at 38 (yes, it has taken me that long), I can comfortably speak about financial discipline, after making countless financial blunders and now finally getting it together. So here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Know your numbers aka budget: How much do you earn? How much do you spend? Write it ALL down so you can visualize your money matters. This can be shocking at first when you’ve been spending all willy-neely. But it is a necessary exercise if you want to live WITHIN your means, i.e. spend less than you earn, not more and plan for the future. If you can read this, you can definitely use excel – time to get real :-). How much do you spend on needs (life essentials) and how much on wants (things you can do without)? Next time you want to buy something, ask yourself is it a need or want? Could you save that money instead? Believe me, I battle this many a time and do waste sometimes, but getting better at being disciplined.
  2. Savings: This is money we put in an account for a rainy day. It is imperative that you save, no matter how small. This builds discipline and will eventually become second nature. How do you measure your savings? When done with number 1, hopefully there’s a savings line, you will know how much you spend. Now multiply this by at least 6 months and begin to work towards having enough savings to cover you for at least 6 months should anything happen to stop you from working. My target is savings of at least 1.5 years worth of expenditures. Set a goal and diligently work to achieve it and even if you don’t fully, at least you can avoid being stranded on a rainy day. Please note a house, land, car are NOT savings because you can’t liquidate them at a moments notice when you urgently need funds to pay your bills when temporarily unemployed.
  3. Investments: This is money we put in assets which can bring us a good return in the future, especially when not working. You want invest in assets, which can bring returns enough to cover your basic needs in the long run. Assets are property such as land, property or equity in a company. Please note, a car is Not an asset because it depreciates the second you drive off into the sunset with your new ride.

If we want to achieve financial freedom, discipline to manage monies effectively is the surest way to succeed. What better time to start than today. See you here👇🏿👊🏾.

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