Rich in talent and in natural resources, one would think that Africa would be on the top five in the list of developed and advanced countries in the world. Looking at the developed world today and the level of technological advancement in these countries, as Africans or bringing it closer home to Nigeria, we are sometimes wowed by the awesomeness of it all so much so that, that seemingly small creative idea we have been nurturing in our minds shrinks at the marvel of it all. We often forget that the greatness of the advanced world which we are in awe of, all started as an idea too in the mind of the innovator. These developed countries we greatly admire were built on the backs of entrepreneurship.

Talk about Bill Gates, McDonald’s, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and the likes. From that idea nurtured in them, they have been able to successfully build business empires that have been able to create job opportunities for other people and also boost the economy of their country.

The need for startups in Africa cannot be overemphasized enough because that is the bedrock of development for any country. No idea is too silly to be brought to life. So long as it can be conceived in the mind, then it most definitely can be achieved in reality. We sometimes allow that idea within us feel intimidated in the face of the development we see around us in advanced countries and we begin to ask ourselves questions like, “How do we get started?”. We allow ourselves to get easily discouraged and come up with varying excuses for why we should kill that creative idea even before birthing it to reality. We all have in us something extraordinary to contribute to the greatness of the world more so, our continent, Africa. With a population of over 1.2 billion people in Africa, there are more than enough talents to build successful startup businesses on our very fertile land. There is so much room for growth and development in Africa that every business idea so long as it is profitable to the society and world at large, is worth a try.

Africa is indeed a beautiful gem hidden under a pile of dirt and rubbles. The one fact that this continent has a lot of problems desperately in need of creative and innovative solutions, guarantees so many opportunities for newbie entrepreneurs to take the most advantage of.  Sure thing, entrepreneurship isn’t for the lily-livered or the lazy ones because it entails a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment, irrespective of whatever niche your business is in. This is even more challenging for newbie entrepreneurs in Africa because of the so many limitations faced in these developing countries. Some of such limitations include:

  • Lack of funds (startup capital)
  • Poorly or underdeveloped infrastructures
  • Market size
  • Poor internet connection
  • Migration of creative individuals to other countries in search of better environments to enhance their creativity
  • Some limiting Government laws, taxes etc.

These and more, make it somewhat difficult for startup businesses to even flourish in Africa. Despite these though, how can we forge ahead, keeping hope alive to make sure these ideas see the light of day and provide a sustainable growth in the development of Africa? Bearing in mind that the needs in the different African countries vary, we ought to understand that the factors contributing to the success of any startup would vary as well, depending on the country.

  • WHAT NEED DO YOU SEE?: Look around you. What problems do you see in your society or even immediate environment? How can you proffer a solution to this or these problems? Has anyone done anything in these areas before? If yes, what have they done? Do you have an idea that can enhance the already proffered solution? If no, what solutions do you have for this need? Are they achievable? Can these solutions be carried out by you alone or would you need a team to work with? All these questions help you in the build-up of an idea in your mind before you think of putting it on paper. With this idea, you are able to identify that there is a need you are willing to proffer a solution to. In the development of this or these ideas, you are able to see the clear vision of what you aim to achieve in your mind’s eye and it is this vision that would guide you on how to develop your ideas and map it out in a way others can understand so that they too can key into your vision.
  • BUILD A TEAM: Like the popular saying goes, “no man is an island” and no one knows it all. Sure, it may be your idea but the input of others especially those who buy into the idea you are trying to sell will be an added advantage. Your team would be able to help make your idea water and air-tight and by so doing, cover any lapses or areas you may have missed in your original development of the idea. A solid team possess complementing skills and talents that make up for the weaknesses of each other. It is highly advisable to choose one’s team wisely because, despite the great advantages a team has, the wrong team can destroy that very idea you are trying hard to build. Know your team members and what makes them thick as this would help you understand how they can properly fit into your ideal plan.
  • FUNDS: Now comes the monetary aspect of the plan. Contrary to what most people think, start-up capital is NEVER the first thing needed for a new business venture. Having carefully mapped out your business plan which includes feasibility studies for the idea, the need to which you are proffering a solution, the audience or target market for which the idea is meant for, how beneficial it would be to the society at large etc., the next step is how to get funds to startup this idea. Often times, lack of funds is the number 1 excuse people give for not going ahead with their dreams but the mistake often made is they may not have utilized the right channels from which to get these funds. This shouldn’t be. Instead, the question to ask ourselves is “how do we raise funds for our businesses?” For starters, we can try out the closest source of income to us – Family and Friends. The reason to first utilize friends and family is that while your idea is still a seed, you are unknown. Known people are those whose idea seeds blossomed into beautiful trees bearing fruits. Credibility guarantees you getting funds from investors and even bank loans too. Angel Investors, Crowdfunding are other huge sources of capital for passionate individuals looking to birth their ideas to life.
  • COMMUNICATION: This is key to any successful business venture. Proper communication helps you win over business investors or stakeholders to buy into your ideas. It also helps you convince your customers to purchase whatever goods or services you provide for them. Communication is a key factor in the growth of any business and this is a skill you really need for your business. Learn this skill and you will see yourself not only winning over the hearts of your team, employees, investors but also close deals and win contracts too.
  • KEEP LEARNING: Self-development has always been and is still tops in the list of successful tips of any business venture. This is because the world evolves every day and we are expected to do the same. What worked in the 19th, 20th centuries have long faded out. In this digital age, we are expected to be conversant with electronic gadgets and the new channels for communication. Refuse to be stuck or stagnant in growth. Train yourself. Go for seminars, conferences. Find out the new ways of doing things in your business. Particularly if your idea is unique in the African continent, you need to constantly update yourself on what has worked in the developed countries and what can possibly work in your country. Keep learning about your customers and how your products or services can be improved to benefit them more. The number one rule of success is to LEARN, LEARN AND KEEP LEARNING.

So, if you have that little idea you have been nurturing for a while now, don’t be dismayed by how much has been done already. Instead, think up ways in which your idea can fit into the society and proffer solution to the needs you find. There is always a business niche for those who are called to it.

Photo Credit: MyNaijaNaira

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