Fanta Bah—from top of the class in Africa to business asset in America

by M’NIYAH LYNN | Amsterdam News

Fanta Bah is an international student that currently attends Baruch College. While at LaGuardia Community College, she was among one the first students to participate in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows program. It is her curiosity and ambition that allowed her to make the most out of her experience working with Ajoy Management Enterprise, a Harlem-based financial management firm. Bah used the fundamental skills she gained at the internship to become an asset to the firm and to wherever she wants to work in the future.

Bah was placed to work at Ajoy Management Enterprise, owned by Tuesday P. Brooks, for a semester. By doing the program, Bah fully immersed herself into new experiences. The variety of work she did included bookkeeping, research, tax preparation and administrative duties.

“I was doing a little of everything. I told Brooks I don’t have any experience, but I want to learn every single thing,” she said.

Bah said she valued the technical training and skills she learned. However, equally important to her, she learned to be more confident and to be in a place where she felt like she belonged. She said she was able to solidify her career path.

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“Right now, I’m thinking about double majoring. I identified what I like to do and what I really don’t like to do,” she said. She realized she more so enjoys working with numbers rather than interacting directly with clients, even though she has experience doing that as well.

Her family is from Mali, but she was born and raised in Central Africa in the Congo. Her father sent her to the United States to pursue higher education. This inspired her to take opportunities and do well in school. “He wanted to invest in me. That’s how I ended up in the U.S. I’ve always been among the top three of my classes while in school,” she said.

Bah came across the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program thanks to a professor’s email. She took a chance by applying, with this being her first ever work experience, and got accepted. She began working in September of 2021 and completed the internship in December.

“I was surprised to be selected. I have never had any prior work experience and I’ve never worked in an office,” she said.

While at LaGuardia Community College, Bah studied business administration. She graduated in December and later transferred to Baruch College in January. Now, she’s looking forward to studying finance and computer information systems (CIS).

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is an initiative that pledges $500 million in aid to small businesses. This initiative is available to businesses across the United States. This is important because “50% of the American workforce is employed by a small business,” Goldman Sachs’ website said.

The 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows program pairs smaller businesses with historically underrepresented college students through internships. This program was launched in 2021. Students are paid for their work.

“Today’s launch is the product of many months of listening and learning from small business leaders. We’ve heard how entrepreneurs are struggling to find the talent they need, and our platform is perfectly designed to connect them with promising students,” David Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, said in a press release.

Ajoy Management Enterprise is a firm for “womxn-led” businesses, according to the website. The firm provides services such as ones in accounting, bookkeeping, company payroll, essential tax prep, financial management and advice. The company has been around since 2009.

Bah said that something she enjoyed a lot about working for Brooks is it was more than just a firm to help businesses.

“The mission is to empower women, especially women of color. This company was helpful for the community because every task is accomplished with detailed care,” she said. “This internship helped me see that this is the type of company I want to work for because the work culture aligns with my values and principles.”