So what do you think of when you hear the word “African Entrepreneur”? Is it someone trying to sell anything by the road-side struggling just to put food on the table, or is it someone who is taking advantage of what has been called the African Renaissance, leapfrogging old technology, selling on the Internet, using mobile payment solutions and maybe being featured on the CNN African Startup show?
Well for me, it’s all of the above as Africa is a continent with 55 countries with both huge challenges and amazing opportunities. Many African nations are now offering the fastest growing business opportunities in the world with a fast growing middle class empowered by mobile technologies. The analyst firm Frost & Sullivan nicely summarizes the African mega trends in this short slide-share deck.
Since we started the Afriversity Trust supporting African entrepreneurs in resource challenged environments in South Africa about 7 years ago, we’ve met some amazing individuals and their growth stories. We have also seen failures and often re-starts.
Many individuals started off selling goods or their artisan services at township markets or on the street by traffic lights, to now having state-of-the art eCommerce websites reaching customers all of the world, selling both services and locally manufactured products. Sometimes I feel that many African entrepreneurs’ stories would be perfect Hollywood scripts!
So what are the critical factors for success for resource challenged African entrepreneurs? Connectivity to the Internet combined with the right training, mentoring and support makes all the difference. Challenges still exist in just getting a reliable Internet connection in many parts of Africa, but it’s slowly changing with a combination of 3G mobile access and build out of public internet access points.
New Internet payment methods are also allowing more people to send and receive money without having a traditional bank account, through innovative mobile wallet solutions like M-Pesa and new Internet currencies like Bitcoin and its recent African implementations of Ice3X in South Africa and Bitpesa in West and East Africa.
What’s still needed is the support and training on how to transform from being a street merchant to becoming a “digital trader”. This includes basic stuff like how to get your own domain name to developing a professional website with eCommerce capabilities. It also involves skills on how to use social media marketing and build a trusted brand, regardless if you are a single trader or developing a nationwide or global business.
This all makes sense, doesn’t it? But it’s not so easy if you never done it before and have no clue how to get started and who to trust giving you the best advice on getting on the Web!
We also believe in active mentoring as the most effective means to build both a strong mindset and self-confidence in entrepreneurs on their journey towards success. This is true for being an entrepreneur in any part of the word! Mentors rock the world of all new entrepreneurs and have a lot of fun doing it!
At Afriversity we are right now working with a number of entrepreneurs in South Africa (we like to call them Afripreneurs!) to help them with exactly with these challenges of going digital and having the right mentorship.
We invite mentors and sponsors both inside and outside the African continent to participate in providing this help-to-self help.
We especially call upon the ones of you who have already built a business and feel that you want to give back your experience and skills to someone who is at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.
We also invite companies to take up one of our sponsor packages to support one or many of our Afripreneurs in going digital. We also welcome your experienced business development staff to provide mentoring.
Afriversity.org is a hands-on social impact project offering today direct contact with South African entrepreneurs who will generate future jobs and eventually contribute to the social welfare system.
For more information and questions on how to become a sponsor download this PDF and contact me on Thorgeir-at-afriversity.org or call me on +46 76 102 1742.
Warm welcome to joining the Afriversity tribe!
Season Greetings to you and your families
Thorgeir & the Afriversity Team