From Uncertainty to Unfolding Success – A snippet of my journey in the Federal Government

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Back in 2012, I jumped headfirst into starting CCI Group without a clue about what I was getting myself into. Those first few years felt like groping around in the dark, trying to make sense of the business world with more questions than answers.

In my quest for some sense of direction, I knocked on every door imaginable – from the SBDC and SCORE to PTAC (now known as APEX), the UCF business incubator and others. If they were willing to listen, I was there, sharing my story and soaking up any advice I could get.

The game-changer came in 2015. During an event, they talked about the Mentor Protégé Program and the enticing world of federal contracts. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I was intrigued. When a three-day Mentor Protégé Conference in Atlanta was announced, I impulsively signed up.

At the conference, I witnessed Mr. Nshokano Katabana, President & CEO of FWG Solutions, being honored with the Nunn Perry Award. His success story was a beacon of possibility, showing me that engaging in business with the federal government wasn’t just a dream. In that crowd, I also connected with Mr. AJ Johnson, who back then was the Small Business Director at the Marine Corps Systems Command. Despite my obvious uncertainty, he reached out, assuring me I wasn’t alone. He introduced me to the vast network of support available, including the OSDBU offices, which was a game-changer for me.

Another highlight was listening to Mr. Kenyata L. Wesley, who at the time managed the DoD Small Business Program and has since become the Executive Director of Acquisition at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). His passionate discourse on the importance of small business certifications opened my eyes to the 8(a) Certification for the first time.

At first, everything about the conference seemed so foreign to me. The jargon, the concepts, the entire world of federal contracting was overwhelming. There was a moment, right after the first session, when I seriously contemplated just walking away. It all felt too much, too far removed from my reality. Yet, something compelled me to stay, and I’m forever grateful for that decision. That initial conference planted a seed in my mind, the idea that my business could actually serve the U.S. government. As an immigrant, the thought of contributing at such a level was not just an opportunity but a profound honor.

Now, fast forward to 2024, and the journey came full circle. One of my partners and dear friend, Mr. James Gordon, CEO of CULTIVA Global Solutions, send me the information to participate in the National 8(a) Association 2024 Small Business Conference in Atlanta. This information came just as I still celebrating a monumental achievement: CCI Group had received an 8(A) award for a Blanket Purchase Agreement by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for Linguistic Services, worth around $25M. This conference was not an option; it was a must.

Attending the conference felt like a reunion and a new adventure rolled into one. Without planning it, all the influential figures that I mentioned previously were at this conference and it was so incredible to share my story and to be able to say “thank you” in person. I also expanded my network, meeting industry peers I’ve long admired like Erika Davis of Davis Management Group, Amelia Beaton from On Point Strategy, Jade Simmon of SimCore Solutions, Peter Karenge from B360, and George Mwangi of Info Gain Consulting, among others. The opportunity to engage with both current and potential clients, including officials from USAID, USDA, DHS, HHS, and more, was invaluable. This mixture of past influences, present achievements, and future possibilities underscored the conference’s significance in my entrepreneurial journey.

Reflecting on this journey is overwhelmingly emotional. Each conversation, each session at the conference, reminded me of the tears, the frustrations, and the relentless pursuit of a seemingly elusive success. Yet, here I am, nearly a decade later, with tangible proof that perseverance pays off.

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a testament to the power of belief—in oneself, one’s vision, and one’s community. I extend my deepest gratitude to all the mentors, supporters, and friends who have been part of this incredible journey. The road ahead is still long, but with such a formidable network and experiences, I am more equipped than ever to tackle it.

To all aspiring entrepreneurs, know this: the path may be fraught with challenges, but the rewards of persistence and learning are immeasurable. Here’s to more years of growth, learning, and success at CCI Group.

Heading to the National 8(a) Association Small Business Conference in Atlanta this year felt like a homecoming. With a recent $25M contract with USAID under my belt, I was no longer the newbie in the room but a peer among respected colleagues.

This year’s conference was particularly special. It wasn’t just about the networking or the actionable insights from the sessions, which were as valuable as ever. It was about reflecting on this incredible journey, from those early days of doubt to standing here with a sense of belonging and achievement.

Every conversation, every familiar face, brought back memories of the struggles and doubts, reminding me how far I’ve come. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, but reaching this point has made every single challenge worth it.

Being an entrepreneur is no walk in the park. It’s a journey filled with ups and downs, but it’s also incredibly rewarding if you stick with it. I’m grateful for the support and mentorship I’ve received along the way and proud of the community we’ve built around CCI Group.

To anyone out there thinking about starting their own venture, remember: it’s a tough road, but you’re not alone. The challenges are real, but so are the opportunities for growth and success. Here’s to the journey ahead – may it be as fulfilling and transformative as the one I’ve had with CCI Group.


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