Entrepreneur, author, founder, CEO, and self-made millionaire Shawn Saunders is obviously a lot of great things. At the core of all this greatness lies a proud Bahamian who migrated to the U.S. with a level of determination that has since proven to be abundantly fruitful.
Black Enterprise caught up with the Saunders, who is the founding president and CEO of Global Business Management (GBM) Solutions, owner and director of Berma Research Group, founder of the nonprofit Empower to Prosper, L.L.C., and author of The Covenant of Peace, to find out how her Bahamian heritage has played a significant part in her success.
Black Enterprise: How does your Bahamian descent influence your career as an entrepreneur?
Saunders: Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and professionals, it was expected that I pursue higher education, training, and eventually ownership of a business. The level of accountability made it almost impossible to settle for anything less. My relatives and neighbors were self-employed individuals that created a future from the resources of our environment, implementing the basic principle of “moving in 3-D”: desire, determination, and discipline. As a money coach, I teach people these core values to foster self-confidence (behavioral and psychological) in the daily management of their finances.
BE: What is it about being a Bahamian woman that makes you unique?
Saunders: I was raised by a strong, independent mother, who taught me that my success in life would be based on what I decided I wanted to be. That if I wanted to be somebody, I would have to take responsibility for the choices I made. My uniqueness as a Bahamian woman doing business in the United States of America, is that my unwavering resolve was firmly established in me, prior to moving to this country. I migrated to the U.S. knowing who I was and the power that was [and still is] in me. Despite the many predetermined societal categories I should fit into, this has kept me grounded and focused. My daily decision to push pass boundaries and ideologies has empowered me into a lifestyle of believing that I can accomplish anything.
BE: What about your heritage as a Bahamian do you most cherish?
Saunders: Born into a racially and culturally diverse family, I grew up in a society that accepted all races and cultures. This heritage taught me tolerance for the uniqueness of individuals, and the values we brought into each others’ lives. Over the years, it has allowed me to embrace and flourish in the U.S., by understanding and respecting others. In addition, the strong core values of neighbors watching out for each other, along with a sense of safety within the community approach to raising family, are among my most cherished [ideologies from my] heritage.
BE: Why are you proud to be a Bahamian?
Saunders: Moving to this country as an adult Bahamian has allowed me to overcome many predetermined boundaries to achieve a significant level of success. I am proud to be a Bahamian, because I have a unique perspective on how to overcome and succeed, even when people don’t believe in you. I am proud to be a Bahamian because it sets me apart with a culture that believes the only limits on us are the ones we place on ourselves. My advice to fellow immigrants, residents, and citizens is that you be accountable, maintain a strong sense of self, and embrace life with passion while knowing that your decisions will create your future.
Register now for the inaugural Bahamas International Women’s Empowerment Summit (IWES 2016) hosted by the Ministry of Tourism of The Islands Of The Bahamas at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, on October 20-21, 2016, to engage with a plethora of aspiring and successful women professionals and entrepreneurs in various fields from around the world.