Interview by Chief Editor
September 2019 5 min read
Bisila Bokoko is a Spanish-American businesswoman, speaker and philanthropist of African descent based in New York City. She is the founder and CEO of BBES, a business development agency that represents, promotes and markets brands internationally. As a main feature in our Visual Collaborative “Supernova” interview series, Bokoko discusses her evolution as an entrepreneur, the impact of her work and business collaborations.
(VC) You are considered a successful Spaniard in the United States, specifically New York City. How does your African heritage come into play?
(Bisila) I am a cultural hybrid, I was born in Valencia, (Spain) and both my parents are from Equatorial Guinea ( Central West Africa). I am very blessed that I was raised to embrace my African roots too, and for the last 20 years, I have been dancing harmoniously with European, African and American culture.
(VC) There is more to you outside of business and philanthropy that meets the eye, What can you tell us about your upbringing that many of your peers may not know about?
(Bisila) My upbringing was unusual indeed, I was imposed a very strong discipline that eventually turns a great instrument for me personally. I was exposed at a very young age to read books about politics, philosophy, African history and race. I was about 11 or 12 years old when my father directed my readings and I was forbidden children books and comics. On another note, at 8 years of age my parents introduced me into meditation through TM (transcendental meditation) and what I saw at a time as a punishment to meditate before meals, has become a blessing. Growing in a blend of sometimes opposite traditions and being the only black kid in my school turned to find emotional support to God and I developed a strong sense of spirituality.
Photo by Ariane Hunter
I do believe Africa has amazing talent and resources and foreign aid has diminished our capabilities. I believe in investing in people and countries. The focus should be to change the way of thinking and that we start trusting in ourselves.
(VC) You have a very impressive background working across several sectors in finance; commercial and the wine industry. Now as Chief Executive of BBES what are your general thoughts on foreign aid to African countries? Some economists may criticize this gesture because of the long-term implications of borrowing and national debts.
(Bisila) I don’t believe in foreign aid and I think it has hurt Africa and our people. This has brought a mentality of limited thinking, in which people don’t feel responsible for their own futures and look for external help. I do believe Africa has amazing talent and resources and foreign aid has diminished our capabilities. I believe in investing in people and countries. The focus should be to change the way of thinking and that we start trusting in ourselves. I am an afro-optimist and I think that we will see great things happening in Africa.
(VC) Outside the political scene in the Western hemisphere especially in the United States, there are several movements making room for women entrepreneurs and progressive woman rights all over. Do you personally feel the impact of these movements or you are focused on championing something much more?
(Bisila) I am truly excited with the movements worldwide making room for women, we are seeing women working together and men for a more balanced world. I think these movements are positive for the common good of humanity. My view is we can champion these movements working together efficiently and eventually women and men we will be happier with the achievements.
(VC) ) As an astute Spanish-American and African woman who may be considered fortunate going by your professional experiences, what can you candidly tell aspiring young women or entrepreneurs about success and risk in business?
(Bisila) I will tell young women that there isn’t a perfect moment to jump and take the risk to embark on a venture or move up in the executive world. The moment is when you feel the desire to do it. It is essential to have massive faith in yourself. Focus on the YES and not the why NOTS Sometimes we are thinking I don’t have the knowledge or the money or the contacts. It is better to focus on the reasons why you want to be an entrepreneur. Along the way you will hit hard rocks ( I did) and you will fall out of heights ( I did) and you must continue looking forward and even in pain try to be enthusiastic about the prize which is to be free and do what you like. Surround yourself with a group of cheerleaders, have a support system, stay away from negative people and ask questions, reach out to mentors, and see failure as part of the journey and the learning process.
(VC) At this stage of your life considering your present commitments, If you could work alongside any notable personality or enterprise. Who would it be and why?
(Bisila) If could work alongside a notable personality it will be Oprah, because I have a huge level of admiration and respect for her. Also, I would find interesting collaboration with The Obama Foundation, CNN, BBC and Nike, all are brands that I like!
Photo by Ariane Hunter
(VC) Are you spiritual or psychological, what motivates you to stay motivated and focused on your many businesses?
(Bisila) My aim with businesses is to leave a better world for my children and future generations. I believe in the business of doing well by doing good. I think is the best way to make our spiritual experience a whole.
(VC) What kind of work, business enterprise or venture can the world expect from Bisila within the next 36 months?
(Bisila) I have started 24 months ago several business projects that need my personal attention therefore I foresee the next 36 months to be the focus on developing those. I am very passionate about public speaking and I am looking forward to expanding more on this field, particularly in the US. And I remain open to new things that might present by surprise!