No one ever said it was easy being an entrepreneur. Whether you're in the early stages of your statrup, just secured funding for your startup or you are ready for product launch, there will always be those three components when you ask yourself if this whole entrepreneur thing is worth it. Instead of giving up and throwing-in the proverbial white towel, this forum will help in giving you all the motivation you need to achieve your result.
Being a young entrepreneur is difficult, no matter where
you are from. But in Africa, the challenges are often far more emphasised.
Resources, financing, mentorship and supporting services are even scarcer. Yet
despite this, the continent’s youth unemployment is higher than elsewhere,
and for many young Africans, entrepreneurship is less of a choice, and more of
a requisite for survival.
year the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for entrepreneurs between the
ages of 15-22, identified a handful of young entrepreneurs who are
making it in Africa. Here are some of their tips for success.
1. The most important step is the first one
Nteff Alain is the winner of the 2014 Anzisha Prize and is the entrepreneur
behind GiftedMom, an e-content platform for pregnant women.
says having an idea is easy, but turning it into reality is a whole different
story. The wall of challenges an entrepreneur faces can quickly de-motivate
someone from following through on their vision. However, Alain’s advice is to
just start, adding that once the first step is taken, the solutions to these
challenges will start to become clearer.
are so many challenges in Africa that can make entrepreneurs think they can’t
do something. But it’s very important they just stay focused on the goal and
take the first step. And everything else will start to fall into place.”
2. Develop your entrepreneurial brand
Osborn is the founder of GreenChar in Kenya, a clean energy start-up that
produces charcoal briquettes for cooking purposes that are both healthier and
last longer. While GreenChar is barely two years old, it has already caused a
buzz. Osborn has won a number of entrepreneurial awards and was recently named
as one of Forbes’ global ‘30 under 30′
advice to young entrepreneurs: develop both their business and personal brand.
think in Africa there are a lot of young entrepreneurs who have great ideas but
never get noticed or past the small-scale level. I think one reason is that
they poorly position themselves and the organisation. They don’t know how to
tell their story. They don’t know how to create their brand. And I think that
is also very important,” explains Osborn.
should spend a lot of time not only on their products, but also on working out
how they are going to sell them.”
3. Going into business with a friend: separating business
African Thato Kgatlhanye is one of the entrepreneurs behind Repurpose
Schoolbags, a social initiative that recycles plastic shopping bags to make
schoolbags with built-in solar technology so underprivileged children can study
Her co-founder, Rea Ngwane, is also her childhood friend and the duo has
developed a good working partnership by learning to separate their personal
relationship from their business.
you form a business partnership with your friend, act as though you met that
person that day,” advises Kgatlhanye.
can’t say because you’ve known your friend since grade four, you’ll work well
together in business. No – you have known them since you decided to start a
company together. So get to know your business partner as a business partner,
not a friend, because business and friendship is a different ball game.”
trick that proved beneficial for the co-founders was to get a business coach to
help them get comfortable in their business relationship. “And I think that’s
the best advice. Get a business coach, be honest, leave the ego at the door and
4. A good team is everything
Sam Kodo is a bit of a robotics genius. By age seven he had built his first
robot, and today he is the founder of Infinite Loop, a company that locally
produces low-cost personal computers for students. However, Kodo acknowledges
that there is more to running a business than being a computer whizz. He
believes the key ingredient for success is a good team.
Gates or Mark Zuckerberg might not have particularly been good businessmen or
good administrators or even good at marketing, but what they did was surround
themselves with people who have the competencies and skills to turn their
[innovations and computer skills] into a company.”
explains that he and his business partner have complementary skills, which they
use to make joint business decisions. “When you choose a business partner,
choose someone who complements you – not someone with the same skills.”
5. Motivation must come from within, not from others
success is far from easy to achieve, and many youths will be discouraged by family
and friends from giving up a stable salary to follow an entrepreneurial vision.
However, while entrepreneurs should not be unrealistic or ignorant about the
huge risks they face, they also have to be “a bit” brave.
was noted by Winifred Selby, co-founder of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, a
company that has received numerous global awards since its inception.
Selby believes it is important for entrepreneurs to draw inspiration and
courage from their own dreams and passions, rather than simply rely on the
support of others.
were so many friends who laughed when they heard about the bamboo bike idea.
Some people will definitely discourage you, but one thing I’ve realised in life
is that you have to be focused.
never understand your journey because it is not theirs to understand.”
Twenty percent of small businesses fail within their first year. Entrepreneurship is no walk in the park. In fact, the amount of new businesses that fail exceed the number that succeed. That’s why it’s more important than ever to create a unique product or service that helps you stand out from the rest.
However, don’t be discouraged. If you believe in your business, passion will prevail. On average, 75 percent of small-business owners are confident in their company. And why shouldn’t they be? They’ve turned their passion into profit. Yet, keep in mind it’s important not to be overly confident. Instead, take things one step at a time. Typically, 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year, 50 percent in their fifth year and 70 percent after a decade of being in business.
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