African Investor, Donald Hagbe, Shares Insights on Key Traits of a Business Leader


Entrepreneurship has become the key to unlocking the growth of many nations. The word entrepreneurship is becoming synonymous to young people in this new generation. Many young people are opening multinational businesses that are employing over hundreds of people which is helping solve the unemployment challenge in the world.

To help us discuss what motivate young people to quit their 6-figure salary jobs and take the risk to set-up a business, I spoke with Donald Hagbe, founder and CEO of the MonDonald Group, a multinational company that oversees and manages subsidiaries across the world. Donald is considered by many to be a man for all season due to his passion for knowledge and dedication to improving himself and the world around him. His is a university graduate in Law, Business and Finance with wide experience across business sectors throughout the world.

Kofi Yeboah (KY): What’s your favorite philosophy/quote

Donald Hagbe (DH): “It´s not about having resources but about being resourceful.” I would say that this is the quote that fully describes my entrepreneurial mindset, as well. Most of arising entrepreneurs are over-concerned about financial support, lack of funds and similar things before to start up their venture: this is the biggest hindrance they have to overcome in order to bring their dream into reality, indeed. I am not trying to play down the importance of the economical sustainability and support: I am just trying to stress how motivation, skills, competences, eagerness and resourcefulness are the cornerstone of any groundbreaking entrepreneurial idea. The financial part is something that should not drag valuable energy away from young entrepreneurs: the main focus should be on the core-idea, on how to make it real and apply it concretely. If your brain-child is worthy, the financial issues will be fixed accordingly and consequently!

KY: What are the traits you would look out for in a business leader?

DH: A business leader is supposed to be a role model to follow for his employees, as well. He should possess many virtues, two are essential. Assertiveness and empathy. On one side he has to prove dedication, full commitment and transparency, ability and willingness to do whatever it takes to complete the mission. On the other side he has to pave the way to the rest of the team: a good leader should not stand above or appears to be unreachable for the other members. He has to be a good listener, a motivator and enabler. If necessary he has to be straightforward and resolute, in order to prevent wrong attitude within the company´s environment. Needless to say that he should not skimp on praising if are well-deserved!

KY: Describe the greatest challenge you have faced and how you solved it

DH: Life itself is our biggest challenge. I have lived almost a quarter of a century and I believe I am yet to encounter my greatest challenge. However, the greatest challenge I can say to have faced is: Having to take important decisions on a  daily bases.

Those who know me, say that i’m always right, but they do not understand the countless hours of thinking and agony it takes to come with decisions hoping they will have a positive impact on people’s life as they are meant to be. How do I solve those decision-making challenges? Through looking at things with different googles. I look at the world and the problem at stake with the eyes of a child, a teacher, a mathematician, scientist, philosopher. From there I operate as a “chirurg”, cut the problem layer by layer and apply different thinking methods, systems in a way to take the best plausible decision.

KY: Tell me three top reasons why you have been successful in an online business

DH: I listened to customers. I did not only listened, but I engaged in a co-creation system with customers. I told them stories they wanted to hear, solved problems they did not know of having. Seeing and living their life, made me understand their story, their reason of living, which gave me the opportunity to be allowed to be part of their life. At the end, business is all about a love relation between a business and its customers. I love to do business when everybody can win. At least I try. There can’t always be winners. Someone must lose at the end of the journey. But my business mindset has always been based on a win-win collaboration in partnerships or agreements with stakeholders,clients and suppliers.

At the end I think, the reason I have been successful is that, I have been stubborn to do thing my way. I didn’t just blindly follow a path. I used a mix of stubbornness and analysis. At the end, it paid. Those telling me that it won’t work, are where they were when i told them about it, and I am bringing the changes i always which to see in the world.

KY: What inspired you to start the on-line business

DH: I have never been good at doing easy things. Simple things simply aren’t made for me. But difficult ones, that is the place and time, I feel that tingling feeling of action, passion and dedication. That is what I felt when I started. I felt challenged and hungry in a way, school and other activities could not satisfy my hunger. The ability to reach many people with few clicks amazed me. How interconnected our world and lives are. An online business was for me the easiest way, if I may call it so, to have a positive impact on the life of millions of people across the world.

KY: What motivates you on a daily basis?

DH: The simple undeniable truth that my actions an decisions have a positive impact in the life of millions of people across the world. Being significant, and on my own small corner of the world, being able to bring meaningful change to people’s life in the other side of the world. That is where my nature lays at it’s best.

KY: What is your message to Africa’s aspiring young business leaders and entrepreneurs?

DH: I would suggest them simply to be yourself and to not give up their main idea in exchange to accomplish quicker outcomes. Both African workforce and entrepreneurial mindset is really distinctive and peculiar. I have been lately in touch with several African young entrepreneurs: they are driven, detail-oriented and imaginative. Besides they have a strong motivation to gain new knowledge and to pursue relentlessly their objectives. I would firmly advise them to believe in their original idea and to not lose track of the original meaning of their adventure, avoiding to trade off the inner spirit of their company for few additional funds or financial aids.

MonDonald Group focuses on the development of companies, products and brands providing extra value on every aspect of the daily life of our customers and shareholders. Their activities span from retail commerce to publishing services, from sustainable and eco­friendly energy to agriculture, from business services to web services and education, just to name few.

We have a turnover of over 30million euro worldwide and we have activities across 15 industries across 80 countries. So we like to make money while helping people, making a change, like giving investments to starting entrepreneurs, or investing in local Agricultural projects – Donald Hagbe, MonDonald Group.

Our desire for innovation and development always bring us at always lending our ears trustfully to the real customer’s needs and expectations. “We therefore do 3 things to keep it simple”, says Donald Hagbe, “we create our own companies and brands, invest in companies and brands and we do all that by empowering young entrepreneurs and keeping people and society in our mind with every investment we do.”