Michelle Dy is the founder of African Abroad Date, a dating app for Africans to meet online. After moving to the United States from Cameroon, she realized how difficult it was to connect with other Africans. Her friends and family were running into the same issue, so she took it on herself to find a solution.
Through her app, connecting with other Africans living anywhere in the world has become much easier, yet there is still a long way to go. “When I came up with the idea, I was really excited, and thought everyone would think it was exactly what they were looking for, but what I soon realized, is I had to provide a lot of education, because people in Africa have a different way to connect,” says Michelle. Along with her app and website, she provides insightful blogs, with tips and things to look out for when dating and connecting online.
Right now, African Abroad Date is not profitable, and the cost to take it where she wants it to go is Michelle’s biggest challenge. “The vision is so clear in my heart, but I can only go so far with my finances.” she shares. “The biggest challenge is getting the word out of there, to say ‘Hey listen, you don’t have to travel back to Africa to meet someone, you don’t even have to leave your house”.
Despite the challenges, she isn’t letting those concerns slow her down. “Right now in my mind, I have a $20,000 project, but I really only have $500. So what can I do today with the $500 I have? Maybe I can’t move 2 steps ahead, but instead only move an inch ahead. And I have learned to do that. Just doing the little bit I can do everyday.”
Michelle mentions that she could try and charge a subscription to use her app, but while money is an important factor, she has a bigger vision than that. ” I want to build a community, I want to have a bigger impact. At some point, the money will come, but the vision is so much greater and I am not losing focus”.
Being a business owner has changed Michelle. “I am an introvert, but because of this business I have learned to open up and talk to people,” says Michelle. “Before, if you would have contacted me to come to your show, I would not have said yes, I would have just run away.” She believes that running her business has made her a better person, and a more complete version of herself. Her advice to other entrepreneurs: Go for it. “If you have that dream in your heart, go for it. Because at least even if it doesn’t work out, you tried and gave it your best. The experience is invaluable.”