The purpose of the Pathway to Promise Podcast is to provide a pathway for persons stymied by adversity to claim their god-given promised life of peace, prosperity, and purpose.
In Episode 028 Dr. Brad talks to the publisher of the “Young African Entrepreneur Podcast” Victoria Crandall.
Victoria graduated from the University of Virginia and set out to boldly seek out a career in international business feeling a definite tug to explore life in the Mideast and Africa. She lived and worked in Syria, Morocco, Dubai, and Egypt before landing in the west African nation of Ivory Coast. It is there that she is pursuing a career in public relations.
Beyond that, she has been compelled to network with support and encourages business in Africa by launching the Young African Entrepreneur podcast.
She talks to Brad about the bold decisions she made to be a businesswoman in Africa and the challenges she faces as well as the particular business challenges in Africa. She relates one particular story of an entrepreneur from Ghana who created a mobile phone app which helped improve the supply, cost, and availability of pharmaceuticals to people which was a major improvement to their lives.
She talked about the importance of her daily routines and vital relationships and living a disciplined life is to her success.
Indeed, the story of Victoria Crandall is one of taking bold action to achieve success. This is the story you want to hear on Episode 028 of The Pathway to Promise Podcast.
The Pathway to Promise Podcast is published weekly by Dr. Brad Miller who is passionate about short-term life transformation. He has 35 years experience in pastoral ministry and has a doctoral degree in transformational leadership.
Dr. Brad Miller
Young African Entrepreneur Podcast
iTunes link for Young African Entrepreneur Podcast
Brad Miller 0:00
Welcome to pathway to promise with Dr. Brad Miller where it is our mission to help folks overcome adversity to achieve success in their life and find their life of peace, prosperity and purpose. And our guest today is has a fascinating story to tell about things that she deals with her life and challenges that she faces in working in the field of commodities and other things in the business world in Africa she lives in the in the Ivory Coast in Africa and his in the business world there but a bug that thinks she works on is the young African entrepreneur weekly podcast with her heart for that as well but she has a great story to tell our guest today is Victoria Crandall, welcome to pathway to promise today, Victoria.
Victoria Crandall 0:49
Thanks for having me. Brad.
Brad Miller 0:51
That is a certainly a joy to have you today, Victoria on on pathway to promise we like to tell stories of about how folks have found themselves where they're at in their situation in life right now. And then what maybe some of the obstacles they've overcome to be there. And what led them there. Now, I I believe that you're not a native of Ivory Coast, I take it you are American citizens. that correct?
Victoria Crandall 1:17
I am from Virginia.
Brad Miller 1:18
Very good. So tell me a little bit about your path that led you from Virginia to the Ivory Coast. And what's your pathway there, tell us a little bit about your path.
Victoria Crandall 1:30
So it was a long and circuitous one, I've been out of the US for 10 years now. And I left after I graduated from college at the University of Virginia, I had studied foreign policy in the Middle East and French language while I was at UVA, and was generally fascinated with
with, with Europe with the Middle East. And when I was in college, I became very passionate about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, mainly because I had become involved with a student activism group while I was at college. And I became fascinated in Palestinian history and kind of the Palestinian side of the conflict, which isn't as well known in the US. And from there, I learned about Middle East about the Middle East and about American foreign policy in the Middle East, and
became interested in Arab culture and Arabic. And because I didn't know what I wanted to do after college, I thought, okay, if I go and live somewhere in the Middle East, and I learn Arabic that will surely get me a job. So I packed my bags, and I moved to Damascus, Syria, of all places. And this was in 2008. So this was a good two, two and a half years before the, the Civil War broke out.
Brad Miller 2:57
But still, but still, I travel in that part of the world around that period of time, still
a lot of tension that part of the world Even then, I'm sure
Victoria Crandall 3:07
a yes, that that is true. And when I lived in Damascus, you know, it was very much an author, you know, a robust authoritarian regime, and you knew that there were certain things she didn't talk about, and you had to be mindful that you were a guest in the country. And if you were ever to do anything that was even perceived as being political, you could swiftly be deported and that was a privilege that American citizens you know, I mean, we would be deported it's not like we would end up in prison that as a Syrian would so I was I was very mindful that hey, you know, I'm here to travel around the country to learn the language and to to get exposure to the culture and it was an amazing experience and I feel so powerful which that I got to live there before before the war because unfortunately the places Syria You know, it will never be the same kind of stating the obvious but
Brad Miller 4:14
and Have and Have you lived there must be heartbreaking to you to see what's been going on the last couple years in that part of the world.
Victoria Crandall 4:21
Oh, absolutely. I'm all of my friends mix except for one have have left the country I I had an amazing Arabic tutor who was Kurdish and he ended up in northern Iraq, stayed there for two years, and ended up paying a smuggler to get him to Turkey and to take a boat. He crossed the GNC to get into Greece and made it to Germany. And he's one of the lucky ones. But you know, three years ago when there was just a wave of migrants getting to Europe he you know, he he was a part of that group I have two dear friends of mine who are in the US and one studying one who's now a cardiologist. But no it's been heartbreaking to see to see what's been going on in Syria and everything I've been privileged to travel in that part of the world not in Syria but in Israel a couple times and heavy even spend some time and with Palestinian folks and in pal spent some time in a Palestinian refugee camp and just the the incredible difference between for instance a an Israeli
Brad Miller 5:35
settlements and the Palestinian camps is just Stark in my and spent some time in the Syrian border area towns. And just to stop reminders about this is a challenging world we live in with lots of challenging things.
Victoria Crandall 5:50
Yeah, no, absolutely. And unfortunately, kind of post Arab Spring,
there's just fewer places to travel in the Middle East. You know, Egypt is a very difficult place under the current regime. Libya, I mean, Libya has always been pretty difficult. But now it's just kind of a no man's land, Yemen. There's an awful, awful war going on there. People are starving. I mean, yeah, it's and of course, Syria, Iraq. So there's just large swathes of the Middle East that are just yeah, that are inaccessible. And of course, you know, civilians are greatly suffering. So, but to go back, so this was, you know, I, I left in early 2011, and mainly because I needed a job. And I knew that I couldn't really, I couldn't really achieve what I wanted to professionally if I stayed in Syria. So I moved to Dubai, of all places, and which is not exactly a place you want to show up to, if you don't have a job because it's very expensive. And I was very much gravitating towards journalism and journalism isn't,
isn't a very dynamic sector in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, because there's really no freedom of press. So you there are a couple of good newspapers, but kind of few and far between. So for me, I ended up staying about four months. But I ended up getting my first job, which was with a business intelligence company that was in the UK, but had offices in New York and Hong Kong. And I worked as a freelancer and my job was very particular. But because I could read Arabic, they said, Hey, we're going to give you certain era markets to follow. And we want you to follow the local press and to read the press in Arabic, and to look for deal flow. So to look for a merger and acquisition, an IPO, a joint venture, kind of any opportunity that would interest as a subscriber based who were, which were mainly investment banks or law firms. And they also gave me Sub Saharan Africa to cover so I was reading the Kenyan press, I was reading the Nigerian press, the Canadian press, and I just became fascinated with business in Sub Saharan Africa. And so kind of between the intervening years, so that job I got in 2011, and until I moved to West Africa, which was in 2013, I was just kind of looking for a way to set up shop in West Africa and to start covering business and that
Brad Miller 8:37
is, I take it that is what soft commodity consultant it has to do with dealing with business in this part of the world. And this nature?
Victoria Crandall 8:46
Yes, absolutely. I mean, commodities is just, you know, one industry of many, and even how I got into commodities was very, you can say, through the back door, pretty much between the Dubai I lived in Egypt for seven months. And because at this point, I was very much kind of a vagabond, I was living out of a suitcase because with this job with merger market, I could work anywhere, there was an internet connection. So I went to Egypt, which was kind of a difficult time just because of the political climate. And it was really at this time that, you know, my interest in Africa was only becoming, you know, bigger and bigger, and I left Egypt I moved to Morocco because I had an appointment as North Africa correspondent, and I didn't really like Morocco. It's It's a beautiful country to visit as a tourist. And it's a fascinating place. But if you're working as a business journalist, it's kind of a small market to cover. It's tightly controlled by by the king by Mohammed six. And it just wasn't as interesting, I thought, and I was still had, I still had my own West Africa, and I was looking for a way to move here. And that opportunity came when I worked on a project a freelance project that took me to Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Ivory Coast, and I was covering commodities transportation, the energy sector, and I ended up interviewing the head of soft commodity research at a bank and we had a great interview and it was just at that same time on LinkedIn. I saw that this very bank was looking for an analyst to cover soft commodities, which are agricultural commodities. So cotton coffee, cocoa and, and they wanted that analyst to be based in Abidjan. So I applied for the job, I got it. And I ended up moving to Abidjan where I still am and to cover soft commodities, which I did from as five years. Wow. fascinating
Brad Miller 10:53
story. Just to get you there. What are some of the challenges is that you see your role as you are in it right now, or some adverse issues that you face that you need to tackle and overcome to either do your job or just live life in Ivory Coast
Victoria Crandall 11:09
there. There are a couple, um, I would say, when I was working in the commodity space,
I would say one challenge for me was that I constantly had to battle a feeling of imposter syndrome. I because I was a very untraditional candidate that had no background in finance. It didn't have an MBA, I didn't have a background in commercial trading, I was a journalist, so I kind of always felt like maybe Mike, I really had to earn my credibility. And because I approached that first year of work, just as I'm going to do as much as I can, I'm going to approach this as, like a learning opportunity. You know, I really wanted to cut my teeth. You know, I really excelled in the job. And I did some really some some great work. But, you know, that kind of niggling feeling of like, Oh, I'm not good at my job. Or I could always be doing this better, or comparing myself to others, kind of always not at me. So I would say that that was one challenge. A second challenge had to do with being a woman in a very much like in a very male dominated space. I remember when I went to a palm oil conference that was in Ghana to speak and I was literally the only woman in the room. Oh, boy. Wow. Yeah, besides a couple of them, there were a couple of the organizers were also women, but I was the only woman who was actually a representative or attending the conference. And that that was also a challenge just because
Brad Miller 12:54
were you aware of that, going into that conference, for instance, I know you probably were about this male dominated culture, but I assumed
Victoria Crandall 13:00
it or I guess I can say, I wasn't shocked when I showed up in the room. And it was like, oh, wow, I'm the only woman here and and relatively young, I think at that time, at that time, I was maybe I hadn't even turned 30 yet. So you know, so you have to deal with people who and and maybe it's not, they don't even know what their behaviors like, or how they're being perceived, but who are quite patronizing. And whether it's because I'm a woman or whether because I'm young, I don't know. But it's, you know,
Brad Miller 13:36
what are some specific actions, I like to call them bold actions that you've taken in your life, when you've had these challenges come up, whether it's being a woman in the marketplace, or living in a culture of far away from home, or other challenges you had, what are some actions you take,
Victoria Crandall 13:51
I surround myself with inspiring good people who are smarter, smarter than me, I've, I've been away. I've been out of the US for so long, for 10 years now, that actually, Cote d'Ivoire feels more feels more like home, and I found my experience, you know, whether it was living in Syria, or Egypt, or Morocco or in Cote d'Ivoire. And since then, you know, I've traveled to have the good fortune to travel to so many different places like Ethiopia, Molly, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, I found that actually, we there's a lot more that kind of that we have in common that really, then then then what then kind of then then what we don't have in common? Yeah, so
Brad Miller 14:41
to kind of battle feelings of isolation or feeling of estrangement, you know, I just, I seek out people who are who are on my same same wavelength people I find interesting. And so you've been very proactive in terms of developing and nurturing your relationships and your friendships and the actual emotional connections that you've had, wherever you've been in, you found that to be as real source of helping fuel your life, any transitions that you've been making?
Victoria Crandall 15:11
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Um, I, I wouldn't say that I'm an extrovert. But maybe on the introvert extrovert spectrum, I lean towards more being an extrovert and I'd firmly believe that, you know, you can't go it on your own, that you you know, that you can only really excel when you find kind of a community that yeah, that's, that inspires you. And yeah, and kind of finding your tribe and I could never, I could never do it without kind of having that sense of finding people who were a part of my tribe, you know, saying
Brad Miller 15:47
and a part of finding your tribe and reaching out and connect with others you've chosen to create the young African entrepreneurs podcast which I take it as something has inspired you to do that what is inspiring you to do that to reach out to folks in the culture you that you're in to nurture that tell a little bit about the young African entrepreneur podcast. So I
Victoria Crandall 16:09
created the podcasts pretty much in a moment of professional of just of discontentment. Maybe I'm just feeling that I wasn't really challenged in my last job, or I felt under stimulated in some sense, or I wanted a creative outlet. I have always been fascinated, you know, with business and in Sub Saharan Africa. And that's kind of my love of it came from, you know, reading these newspapers on a daily basis, whether it was Nigeria, Kenya or Ghana, and just really being an author of just the dynamism and that there's just so much to do in African markets. And I've been very lucky just to know, some really amazing African entrepreneurs. And I was really fascinated about their personal story of what you have to go through to set up a business and Mr. like Nigeria, which is incredibly difficult, it's a really, really difficult place to do business and just how tough you have to be, and the challenges to succeeding as an entrepreneur, which are going to be difficult anywhere you are, but particularly in Sub Saharan Africa. So I set up the podcast and mainly as an excuse to go out and talk to, you know, these really inspiring African entrepreneurs that was really at its origin. And I have to say,
Brad Miller 17:29
what have you learned? What of it? What what's its story that's inspired youth. So some of the folks you've talked to you, and what do you see as the possibilities and the hope for folks in that part of the world in business?
Victoria Crandall 17:41
Oh, so many stories, I'll take one recent interview, spoke with a Guinea and entrepreneur named Gregory Roxanne, who is just amazing. And he has, he has an amazing business called n pharma. And it's a mobile first solution to pretty much manage pharmaceutical inventories. So the problem you have in many Sub Saharan African countries, is that the pharmaceutical supply chain is very fragmented. And just so so what that means is that many Africans, when they go to the pharmacy, there's a stock out that their their doctor will write them a prescription, and they go to the pharmacy, and the pharmacy doesn't have that drug. So you can imagine what problems that that that poses. And so what he did is that he created he created a platform on the mobile and app that connects doctors with with...