Building Cities and Finding Contentment In The Gambia

Apr 08, 2024

Have you ever wondered what makes someone a philanthropist? Okay, so I’m almost always cynical when someone labels themselves a “philanthropist”. Major “philanthropic” donations often feel like an afterthought – made after someone has amassed their fortune, rather than alongside it. As such, the very existence of these donations depends whether or not someone has “enough”. And that’s a difficult line to draw. But, as Kurt Vonnegut’s poem Joe Heller in The New Yorker described, “enough” is an elusive but liberating goal to recognise and reach.

I find the debate around what is and what is not “enough” fascinating, so I wanted to take on this discussion with Mustapha N’Jie. “Taf” as he is widely known, is a self-made Gambian entrepreneur, founder and CEO of TAF Africa Global – a real estate and property development company with a presence in nine African countries. He was born, raised, educated and has worked in The Gambia for his whole life. He has also built an impressive social media presence, with 50,000 TikTok followers, and a YouTube channel. But that’s beside the point.

Building a business with a social conscience

What I admire about Taf and his work, is that – while clearly lucrative – it pales in comparison to the money he could be making. Because TAF Africa Global isn’t about commercial housing, it’s about building affordable homes that are within reach of everyday Africans.

According to Taf, there is just one thing behind this choice; conscience. Africa is in the midst of a housing crisis, and with the continent short some 40 million affordable homes, Taf and his team have made it their mission to build and sell one million of them.

“There is a need. And that’s me, I want to impact society positively, my conscience does not allow me to solve a problem like housing for a certain [wealthy] category of society. I don’t think it’s right.” Taf.

Yes, he has wealth. But for Taf, business isn’t all about making money. It’s about making a difference. He’s been working in construction since he left school. It’s his life. His love. His purpose. And with that, he has found contentment both for himself, and is satisfied with his impact in this world.

The freedom of having “enough”

It is a liberating approach, that leaves Taf free to pursue other passions. As well as his business, he runs a leadership academy and technical training institute. Not to mention a charitable foundation and start-up fund for budding entrepreneurs (I really wish I’d asked him more about this – but I’ll have to save that one for another time).

For me, there is something about people like Taf. Yes, he has wealth. But he also made a conscious choice to build social impact into his commercial life. It’s part and parcel to the whole process, and feels all the more authentic for it.

There is also something about the way he frames the idea of having “enough” that really sticks with me. It comes with an innate satisfaction. A freedom from the need and desire to be the best, that I believe is the key to Taf’s happiness and success.

Learning when to draw the line

It’s an important lesson to learn, and not just in the private sector. As fundraisers, I know many of us feel we have to do and be more. To raise more funds, to reach more people, and to have more impact. But this restlessness can be damaging to ourselves, our partnerships, and our causes.

In the face of growing demand for the work of our charities and civil society organisations, will there every be a point when we genuinely think we’ve done enough?

Success can’t always about being the biggest or the best, about pushing to reach ever-growing funding targets. Whether we’re in business or social impact (or business AND social impact), we all need to find that line and enjoy the freedom and satisfaction that comes with it.

Want to find out more? Listen to the full episode here now.


I’m Craig, founder of the Fundraising Radicals, host of a podcast that imaginatively goes by the same name, and convenor of the award-winning Global Radicals: Fundraising Leadership Programme. Our aim is to explore alternative approaches to resourcing causes that are authentically grounded in expertise and experiences in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. We’re also a platform for global voices and perspectives, sharing truly global perspectives and curating ideas and inspiration for fundraisers everywhere.

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