Posted by: beninmwangi | January 28, 2007

7 Lessons from Africa’s Successful Entrepreneurs?

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So far The Benin Epilogue has attempted to tackle several different issues. Key among them have been:

  • Building awareness about the entrepreneurs behind a few of Africa’s most thriving enterprises
  • Helping to illustrate why foreign firms should do more foreign direct investment in Africa
  • Attempting to showcase the diversity that exists in Africa’s business environment

One of the topics which we have not touched on yet, here, is what can a entrepreneur in Africa do to find success? Have you ever asked yourself that question or wondered if the entrepreneurs being discussed on these pages share anything in common? Well, if you did, then we are on the same page-because that’s what this post is all about. The reason that I have waited for so long in bringing it into the fold here is that it seems like such a complex question. After all, there are many different types of entrepreneurs in Africa. By this I mean that they come from different social and economic backgrounds, different ethnic and language groups, different countries and regions of Africa, some of them are exporting products, while others are serving local markets, and then there are the different educational backgrounds. Maybe, attempting to find such a commonality is like attempting to put a square peg into a triangle peg’s slot-but then again there’s only one way to find out.

Before we move deeper into this discussion, let me say this-I know that ten entrepreneurs in Africa (that’s the number that we have done mini-profiles on) is a small number. However, my rational for starting here, with these ten, was that my hope to be unbiased and also to see whether we could spot a trend or two. For instance, if you had someone who just arbitrarily said that they think that doing x, y, and z could make someone wealthy, what would you think about that person? Now, what if that same person was able to say, “after studying the 5 wealthiest people in the world, I have found they shared they all shared the following 3 habits in common, which have contributed to their wealth” would you listen, then? My point exactly! So, let’s see what these ten entrepreneurs share in common:

  1. Each of them has made their business into a platform or a bigger cause, almost taking on the an evangelistic role for their particular industry or products.
  2. These entrepreneurs have shown a degree of perseverance in the face of heavy obstacles.
  3. They have made building strong relationships a big part of building their businesses.
  4. Adapting thinking, processes, products, and/or services to their local environments.
  5. The willingness and ability to gain a very keen understanding of the overall social, economic, or political climate of the region in which they do business.
  6. Most of them built their businesses around their own personal experiences and as a result ended up creating niche-targeted businesses.
  7. Whether it was in obtaining start-up funds, seeking advice, or in finding others to help run the business these entrepreneurs were not afraid to seek help.

Now, those were the similarities found amongst the entrepreneurs who’ve been profiled here. However, this is probably no where near being exhaustive. Thus, if you an entrepreneur doing business in Africa and you’d like to add to this list or comment on it- we’d really like to know.

Of course, even if you are not an entrepreneur in Africa, your comments are still very much appreciated. But, if you can’t comment at this particular time- but would like to let us know that you were here; please sign and View my guestbook

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Responses

  1. Benin,

    I think you are doing a wonderful job. Quite classy. I have to say in my experience that part of the success in being an entrepreneur is that you have to become stupid. You have to admit that you don’t know anything (if you become successful, don’t believe your hype and other people’s hype for all is quite fleeting). To build a strong base, you need the right relationships. These will be the people who know something. You figure out what you are good at, get people to do what you aren’t good at, establish systems to replicate what you are good at, have people replace you, step back and let the ship run. So long as you do all the work, then you are just employed and that is a big difference.

    Another key thing is you are never too old to learn or too high up the ladder to receive advice. Read extensively, develop an unbounded curiousity and listen (judiciously) to those below you. A shoe shiner can provide you with the solution to take your thousand dollar shop into the tens of millions realm. The people on the ground have a better radar if trouble is in the horizon than you do. By listening, you will be able to pick up the winds of change and anticipate potential pitfalls.

  2. Joshua:

    I am very glad to see that you have stopped by. That was really well said. Also, you have most certainly heard this before, but I just wanted to reiterate that the work you are doing with African Path is stellar.

    For the brief time that I have witnessed your entrepreneurship in action & relationship building, I know that you are practicing what you preach.

    Thanks again for those words of wisdom.

  3. My brother, outstanding post, your summary is great advice for all business people.I want to post about this. ok? blackinbusiness.org

  4. James, thank you..No problem please do.

    Actually, it’s ironic that you said that, my thoughts were moving in that same direction-that these tenets are practically universal.

    Again, thats a great idea to put it on blackinbusiness.org and it will be wonderful to get some criss-cross conversations going, you know what I mean?

    Also, you’ve posted before here-wasn’t sure if that was you, but glad that you are becoming very regular here. My hope is to do the same at your business hub. Which also shares many universal business truths…

  5. Hi BeninMwangi!
    As an African entrepreneur, your list hit all the high points. Based on my own experiences, and through emulating others who have successfully gone before me, my top five are:
    1) ingenuity and innovation-basically making a dollar out of 50 cents; transforming liabilities into opportunities
    2) relationships. You cannot do business in Africa without excellent relationship building skills ESPECIALLY informal ones
    3) perserverance and patience
    4) a great sense of humour
    5)recreating and reinventing yourself

    My entrepreneurial heros:
    1) Taitus Naikuni-KQ
    2) James Mwangi-Equity Bank Limited
    3) Bidco Oil Company
    4) my uncle-Wananchi Online

    …..a few others, but those immediately spring to mind.

  6. Sijui:

    Way to represent for Kenya, Sijui..I like that!

    You know, sense of humor-you are so accurate and actually that statement adds another level to this conversation. My experiences dabbling with business in Africa are primarily from like 10 years ago…One day, I promise to describe them…but there was so much that happened that was so different than my expectations that I had to laugh. So you are right.

    By the way, you are always welcome to guest blog or give more comments
    about the people whose names you have mentioned here. I hope to learn more about them on my own, as well.

    Hope to see you back for more!

  7. Great post.

    You mentioned ability to raise startup financing as a common trait in successful entrepreneurs. I would add in addition to financing an entrepreneur needs to have access to markets.i.e. there has to be a market for the entrepreneurs product with willing consumers.

    In the US many African Americans are getting increased access to capital but haven’t overcome the barrier of access to markets. Many customers still prefer to buy from people that look like them.

    For the African entrepreneur in the US there is an opportunity to use low cost US capital to develop products for sale in African markets. No issues of acceptance here!

  8. Benin, yet another great article. I’ve been enjoying reading the different highlights of entrepreneurs around Africa and think you’re doing a stellar job with it.

    Like one commentor above mentioned, these are all common tenants for any successful entrepreneur. What do you think makes the experience unique in Africa?

    In other words, I’d like to hear what you and others think is different about the entrepreneurial mindset in Africa as opposed to elsewhere. I would say that one of the big things is that there are many more people willing to be entrepreneurs in Africa than in the US/Europe. How then does one differentiate and make a success out of one’s business?

  9. Salt Merchant:

    Excellent point. Access to markets is a critical component to success, becuase without customers there’s no business.

    Your second point is even more interesting to me, so I like this trend!!! Low cost of capital, I never looked at it like that before, but with the strength of the dollar combined with the low interest rates what you have said is one of those things that seems almost like it should be a commonon place thought amongst American business people. Yet at the moment it seems to be a little bit un-common or maybe a better word would be “profound”.

    If only entrpreneurs in the States knew this. Some of their African counterparts here in the States already know this, hence a boom real estate market in countries like Kenya, a diversifying service sector in Ghana, and a rebuilding economies in places like Liberia and Rwanda all thanks to remittances from their family members in America.

    What do you think can be done to make that idea more widespread?

    Hash:

    At the moment, your question has me a bit stumped. I am not sure the answer. Maybe someone else reading may be better at answering Hash’s question as to whether the entrepreneurial mindset in Africa is the same or different than the entrepreneurial mindset in other regions of the world.

    You know….at the moment, my inclination is to say no. Perhaps, the only difference might be the environment. Even this though, may be generalizing. But at the risk of me generalizing market and economic conditions in Africa, what I am saying is that maybe the African business environment forces entrepreneurs to think a little bit more outside of the box.

    Something that Salt Merchant said that is true of the entrepreneurs that I have spoken to while in Kenya and Ghana is the capital issue. A start up entrepreneur in any region of the world would be challenged if they lacked the personal resources needed to start a business. But the entrepreneurs in that I have watched in Africa have had even less choices, as it pertains to outside funding sources, than their counterparts in other parts of the world. This is not to say that there are not banks, VC’s, angel investors, and such in AFrica…There are, but my understanding is that there are less of these types of sources for capital, yet higher numbers of entrepreneurs relative to resources. That kind of ties into something that you said in your response, Hash. In a market where there are many entrepreneurs it is difficult to differentiate oneself to both consumers and funding sources.

    Add to this differences in other types of infrastructure more readily found in western nations than in some African nations and one could envision entrepreneurs in Africa, possibly having a slightly more rugged, creative, or outside of the box thinking when it comes to doing business.

    But as several comments above reflect, that is the life of an entrepreneur anywhere-always being ready to adapt, always looking to hone one’s offerings, always seeking a better way of presenting one’s business..etc, etc.

    I love your comments, this is what makes blogging so fun…keep em’ coming folks!

  10. Folks, I don’t think I agree with you vis a vis the entrepreneurial mindset in America. Are you talking about White Americans or Black Americans? If White Americans……I would argue they are the most entrepreneurial people in the world! Perhaps the Asians would give them a run for their money, but in terms of Caucasian societies, they take first, second and third place in my book. If Black Americans….yes, a case can be made. In terms of cheap credit, I think most entrepreneurs in this country exploit it to its fullest.

    African entrepreneurial mindset? I’m sorry, but I think most Africans see entrepreneurship as a utilitarian end i.e. to put food in my belly and a roof over my head. I do not think there is a critical mass yet who see entrepreneurship as a means to self actualization or self fullfillment. You can tell by the political, economic and social bottlenecks we have in place that stifle entrepreneurship rather than encourage it. Yes that is changing, and most governments are now stumbling over themselves to embrace ‘SMES’ but the epiphany sadly has come belatedly.

    Last but not least, I think this ambivalence manifests itself in many ways. My particular pet peeve:
    1) poor sense of customer service and quality control
    2) inefficiency and redundancy in management culture
    And lest I sound like I am too ‘westernized’ and callous about cultural nuamces, I’ll give you an example. In our operations, the most reliable customers sadly are expats rather than our ‘brothers and sisters.’ Our customers span both government agencies and the private sector. Our Lebanese/Caucasian clients in Ghana pay their bills on time……our Ghanaian clients habitually pay with bounced checks. Both sets often times are competitors. Why the difference?

  11. Sijui:

    It’s ok Sijui, you need not be apologetic about your viewpoints. Everyone forms their viewpoints based upon their past experiences and also upon their evironment + personal circumstances. So, by all means continue to voice your opinions.

    In your latest comment you have said a lot. I am not really sure how you might receive my counter arguments, because-again your opinions were formed by your experiences and no one can take those away from you.

    The proverbial “however” comes in in several places…first the America that you see here today is very different than the one that you would have seen, let’s say 300 years ago or 200 years ago. From what has been taught to me, during the time of America’s founding American entrepreneurs were doing business to put food in their bellies and not for personal enrichment or for enjoyment.

    Why do I make a point to mention this? Because although AMerica is young, by America’s standards today’s African nations are yet babies when it comes to things like infrastructure, laws, capital, business people, and all of the other functions of business start in phases. Why is that? Because of history…Outside of Ethiopia most of Africa’s nations are between 20 to 40 years old.

    Adam Smith who wrote the Wealth of Nations would have a lot to say about this, I believe. In one chapter he talks about the business environment in rural France versus England’s urban capital of London. To summarize it as best as I can with my limited understanding of economics he said that in urban areas (where you have high concentrations of people, professions, educations, capital, and etc.) you will find highly specialized businesses-which today we would classify as more entrepreneurial. Whereas, in rural areas you will find the “mom & pops” or a one person business which does every business imaginable. Why? Does anyone think that it’s because the food in urban areas makes urbanites smarter( chuckles)? Well, Mr. Smith would say that there are more small and unspecialized businesses in the rural areas because the market in rural areas for one particular line of business is not big enough to support niche businesses. He did not make this next statement, but I will. If you took a small town country boy, who just so happened to be a business person, from rural France and transplated him to a big city like London there is a big chance that his London based business would be more specialized and entrepreneurial than the old business he had back in the country side. Not only because of the more specialized consumer matkets for his goods, but also becuase of:

    *access to cheaper products (via better roads)
    *more sources of capital (therefore cheaper capital)
    *more opportunities for clustering
    *more educated labor

    Now, flip this argument into this discussion…instead of city folk -vs-country folk, you have mentioned caucasian business people in America versus local African business people in their own respective lands. Could Adam Smith’s argument be applied here? Something tells me that if he were alive today and cared to listen in on this conversation he’d say that those priciples bear on this discussion much more heavily than ethnicity.

    Now, to anyone reading this, please know that I really like to stay away from generalizations about various groups of people. For the sake of responding to an above argument or set of statements I am going to use a few general terms, though.

    First let me say that before my interests lie in business they were science, philosophy, and so forth. Naturally so too, both of my parents have heavy science backgrounds-my father a physicist and my mother library science….By no means am I a scientist, though…but what this background has done for me is provided a backdrop which makes it difficult for me to accept random statements as truths. Instead, my inclination is to not believe something is true until it is proven to be so…the only way to do this, as far as I am aware is to prove that there are no exceptions to the statement that is being made. If their are exceptions to one’s hypothesis or statement of observation, then it’s merely an opinion. Here are just a few exceptions to Sijui’s observations:

    *Portugal this European nation-is it known for endless examples of entrepreneurship? What about Poland?

    *Robert Johnson, Oprah, Magic Johnson, Russell Simmons these are Americans of African descent and they are roles models for anyone aspiring to be great entrepreneurs, regardless of ethnicity

    *African entrepreneurs in America-Sijui, you are probably familiar with at least one of these two names, one is David Karangu, founder of Augusta, GA based Kenya Auto Enterprises (last year sales of over $66m)& Kase Lawal from Nigeria whose Texas based CAMAC International Corp had annual sales last year of over $1.49b).

    Those are but a few exceptions to your observations, oh by the way, did anyone know that my work is that of analyzing the credit of businesses? There are many of businesses, who’ve come across my path and who were also habitual late payers…I have never been able to find a correlation between ethnicity and late payments-the businesses which fail to get my credit approval due to poor credit move accross all ethnic lines including black, white, and Asian.

    Finally, again, I wanted to reiterate that it is ok to have differences of opinion. If everyone in the world had the same feelings and viewpoints, we’d live in a very dull world-right. This is said as a reminder, for anyone who may comment on this post that it’s ok to have differences, but please keep it clean and respectful. Although Sijui had some differences I appreciate Sijui’s respectfulness…

    Thanks, Sijui.

  12. my most favorite way is to start in whichever way. waiting for the oportune moment never works. my best story so far is of Mr. Osewe of Ronalo foods who started with selling 50 cent groundnuts to drunkards and is today a household name in african foods in nairobi. Mr. Osewe had at times to borrow 1/4 kilogram meet which he roasted and sold before paying the butcher. today he is a millionaire with no real competition in his class.

    however for the investor, patience is the best friend. if you want to start today and apear on oprah show tomorrow then you are planning your own failure

  13. Odegle:

    My hope is that Mr. Osewe’s story inspires many others to go on and do
    more ventures and attain more success.

    Thank you! That was very insightful, I am glad you have come.

  14. You’ve made a strong case especially using the Adam Smith analogy……….however I’m convinced African entrepreneurship is not in its infancy, that’s if you evaluate it from the perspective of progressing beyond subsistence entrepreneurship to sophisticated trade/economic/political networks and economies of scale.
    You need not look further than the Ashanti kingdom of yesteryear, or the Malian/Northern Sahara commercial networks etc. Granted, there are instances throughout the continent but not necessarily widespread application…….my point, in many circumstances African communities know how to mobilize resources for economies of scale, production efficiency and commercial specialization.

    I have always argued that African societies were inherently capitalist, long before Europeans who remember were shackled by a feudal system. So the ‘concept’ is not new to us, just adapting and transforming our variation to the contemporary world especially in the era of the nation state which was a much broader geo-political grouping to what we were used to. That’s where the process was short-circuited……but that is a debate for another day ๐Ÿ™‚

    We are just now appreciating that ‘indigenous’ knowledge and that is why I am critical of our current business work ethic…..we know better!

  15. Sijui:

    Thanks for coming back and for the clarification. By the way, I really enjoy your comments here and on the other blogs that you comment on.

    The Ashanti Kingdom, as you have said, is quite amazing with quite a rich history of trade. Unfortunately, I am not very familiar with the details concverning ancient Mali as it relates to trade. My friend you’ve given me a lot of homework… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sijui,I am assuming that because your name that you are from Kenya. So I am just curious here…if you don’t mind me asking how did you end up in Ghana? How do you find the pace of business there versus in East Africa?

    One last thing…if it’s fine by you, I would like for you to email me your contact info…there are a few ideas that I’d like to discuss with you.

  16. Back at you! You can get me at sijui@hotmail.com………

    And no problem with the 20 questions ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I am from Kenya but married to a Ghanaian. I was shocked when I first visited Accra, that was 2002, at how the country had been trapped in a time warp due to socialism. Definitely there was no comparison with Nairobi in terms of business infrastructure. By the same token, it also became abundantly clear that there was a big difference in ‘social development’. I saw much fewer beggars in Accra, as well as social depravity. And that includes trips to slums like Sodom and Gomorrah (their version of Kibera). So I was forced to accept that Rawlings and his misguided socialist utopia did have some redeeming qualities. He DID NOT ROB GHANAIANS BLIND!

    I have been back several times intermittently on fact finding missions to Nairobi and Accra i.e. ‘which is most suitable to make home base.’ And based on the progress I have observed between ’02 and now, Accra is the easier choice. Plus there are direct flights btwn Accra and Nbi on KQ four times a week ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Hi BW,

    I can’t really contribute much to the discussion since I’m still at the start of my long journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur. I’m still 20 by the way.

    In terms of doing Africa-related business, I have been importing and exporting products between Sudan and Malaysia (nothing major but some small deals to get started). Things were extremely difficult in the start. Many people especially here in south east Asia have a lot of negative stereotypes about Africa and Africans. Some of the people I did business with previously had this idea that young African guys trying to do business are trying to con them or cheat them. I don’t blame them much since unfortunately here in Malaysia, there have been many cases of African conmen cheating the hell out of some locals. The fact that corruption in Africa is widespread also doesn’t help. Now I could just throw my hands up in the air and give up. However when many saw and continue to see an “impossible” barrier, I saw an opportunity. There are many here who want to do business with Africa but have great mistrust. If you can turn that mistrust into a super trust, then “wala” you have struck gold.

    From my experience, gaining people’s trust and changing their perceptions about Africa is the first challenge. After that maintaining a healthy relationship becomes the next step. It takes a lot of interpresonal skills. Thankfully my verbal communication and interpersonal skills are what I really have going for me. I do however need to learn more about the technicalities. Getting all the logistical aspects when I started trading a year ago were a major headache but I’m still learning.

    Peace =)

  18. Drima:

    You don’t know how happy I am to see you here. By the way, your blog is terrific.

    So you are 20 years old? You are years beyond your age, please keep that passion for what you are doing and soon you will be teaching others about the technicalities that you are now beginning to learn.

    Also, those small deals will in time grow into medium deals. Which will themselves grow into larger deals. What is important, right now Drima, is that you continue to hone your concept or your business model. After that you’ll see that the same things that are required to do the smaller deals are required on the bigger ones and they will all be an easy “walk in the park” for you. You’re doing wonderful.

    One more thing, you’ve got a very keen sense of world happenings and politics-I’m sure that your sense of international affairs will also help you in your business endeavors probably just as much as your current business activities-again please keep the fervor.

    Hope to see you back soon!

  19. BW, thanks for your kind words. I’m studying business information systems and just really waiting to graduate right now. Once I’m out of uni, I’ll have more time and I can start saving more money to do more things.

    I’m not sure how my plans will start rolling. I’d love to go back to Sudan and start a company there asap. The time is perfect with all the investment happening now. I have the connections there and elsewhere in other countries. I am afraid of one thing though. Maybe you can give me your thoughts on it. I have some older friends who went back and started companies. They’re doing well but there’s one thing they ALL have in common. They ALL had to bribe a few people to get things going. This is the sad reality of Sudan. It’s a dilemma for me honestly. I hate the corruption in Sudan and I oppose it. I want it to go away but if I do as others do then I simply contribute and become a part of it. That will make me a hypocrite. It won’t improve Sudan. It will just make it worse. Entrepreneurship should be about creating development, generating employment for the unemployed, providing experience and skills to the inexperienced, moving people slowly towards a knowledge based economy etc.

    My friends keep telling me that when you start, you have to play by the existing rules of the game even if you don’t like them and by the time you’re in the game, you can start changing the rules. I say that’s crap. Maybe I’m taking this too emotionally, I don’t know. All I know is that this is a challenge I need to overcome.

    What’s your experience?

    Peace =)

  20. An intresting read.

  21. Omodudu:

    My friend-the Nigerian economist. thanks for the visit. Your blog is a good read too. In fact I like the conversation format…One post was so funny (albeit with a serious message beneath), I had to comment there.

    You can come here and make comments anytime.

    Drima:

    Your last comment sort of has me in a daze. It is so philosophical. And guess what the crux of the argument (to bribe or not to bribe) is an age old one. Though the analogy may slightly change.

    Here in the States we have such problems also, but to a lesser scale. One are in which the problem is far too big in America is in the profeesional sports arena, which here is a multi-billion dollar industry. So here is the analogy that I want to use. Since American Football isnt really so big outside of America, let’s use track and field-the professional arena where the winners take home mega endorsement contracts with big names such as Nike or Reebok. In this arena any professional with the right work ethic, talent, technique, and trainers should be looked at by there competitors as a legitimate contender-Right? Any given event the top star can be beaten, if all of the participating atheletes are operating at or near the same level. Generally, they do compete at or near the same level and the winners win by fractions of a second, as a result. This is the world of pro-atheletes without artificial human made enhancements. Now let’s take this scenario and flip it onto it’s head….What happens when one athelete who prefers to take a short cut to sccuess decides that the only way that he or she can beat the massively stacked odds is to turn to illegal enhancements (steroids)?

    What happens is that after a few big wins, this person ends up creating an artificial environment where the only way that this person’s peers can win since the playing field has been shifted is to do the same thing…Now, there is a saying which I deeply believe in “what is done in the darkness shall come to light”. In the case of pro-atheletes in America, once an athelete is found to have benefited from these banned substances that person can quickly become barred from participating in the sport at the pro level again. But the biggest consequence, to me, is that the public generally erases this person from their minds.

    In the case of doing business in Africa, I believe that both the rewards and consequences can be far greater than what an American pro-athelete could expect. On the upside, the business person can quickly land major contracts-becoming wealthy by doing (or in some cases not doing) work that sometimes this person’s business is not even be qualified to perform.

    On the downside, what happens when new leadership enters into the equation? Typically what I have heard happen is the corrupt business-person is used by the outgoing politician as a scapegoat for the regions corruption problems. Of course, if this happens it would be harder for the corrupt business person to get work now than it ever would have been without corruption. Then not to mention the public humiliation and embarassment that could befall one’s family if word got out about their son or daughter’s corruption.

    How does this realte to your comment? Well, before I answer that let me say, Drima, you really are wise beyond your years. The answers that you are seeking are already within you-this is my observation. All of the things that have said are correct. The thing is it’s a really practical and honest question or thought. That being said no one but yourself is truly qualified to answer the question for you. However, consider this-which you have sort of already mentioned in a different way-there exists in life no shortcut to success-None. Every choice that oone makes is always counterbalanced by an equal or opposite one. So if one chooses to go the straight and narrow route, the equal and opposite result could be a long, long journey to success. However, once this person gets there no one could ever take it away. Whereas, the person who takes the quick route to success, may have the material trappings of success, but since they deep down know that it wasn’t truly earned-this person walks in constant fear. Fear of losing favor, fear of being out-bribed, fear of being caught, fear of new leadership, and this list of fears is never ending….

    Also, there are examples of good business leaders in Africa, who have reached high heights without corruption. My father in law is one such person. One day, I shall summon up the courage to ask him if I can mention him here. But he is the most successful business person that I know personally, in Africa or America. My wife tells me stories of hard and challenging times during childhood, those were the times when the family had to make big personal and group sacricfices in order for him to stay the course and build a business. From my understanding it took him, perhaps 15 years to build the business which he runs today-which is an empire. He got government contracts with the old administration and he has them with the new administration. I strongly believe that this is because he is an avid fighter of corruption-which we both know isn’t always easy to do in some parts of Africa.

    If there were one thing that I could say that I hope would stick with you forever, Drima; it would be to not rush. Take your time and learn about what you truly love. Learn your passion by even being willing to do it for free. This could take a long time, perhaps even longer than one might ordinarily be inclined to wait. But if you were able to do this, there is no guarrantee, but you would more than likely find it much easier to run a prosperous and corruption free business in your home of Sudan. And if you did that you’d make history. There is a billionair from Sudan, you must have heard about him. He became a billionaire in USD by building one of Africa’s largest cell phone companies, he has since sold his company, and now he is on a one man crusade to end corruption in Africa. His name is Mo Ibrahim, I think that all business people could learn something from this gentleman…with that I’m out!

    Please, let’s continue the conversations. You are very welcome, Drima, to come here all the time. So don’t be a stranger, eh?

  22. Benin, you have no idea how much I appreciate your long reply. Thanks a million times. I really mean it. I’ll keep what you said in mind. In fact you have reinforced what my own mother tells me. “One step at a time, Drima” she always says. I try my best not to be in a hurry. I admit that sometimes I do get excited. However for now, I read, I attend seminars, I meet business people whenever I can and I try to never miss a learning opportunity. I know my “why” 100% and I’m absolutely passionate about it. I have yet to figure out my “how” in order to become confident enough.

    Again thanks for your reply. Your blog is now in my “daily list”.

    Peace =)

  23. Drima:

    You’realright with me. My mom and dad used to tell me the same thing. We share a few similiarities, you know. My first couple businesses were started at the age of 20 years also..most were just flops, while one of them became self-sustaining and I acyually ended up selling to pursue the family life several years later. Now, I feel my heart calling me back into enterprise, but this time plan to take it a little bit more carefully and pragmatically. Of course, you’ve probably already guessed that it will be something related to Africa…

    Actually, this topic of corruption wasn’t mentioned on this blog until your comments. I guess in a way I was kind of running from it. In my quest to run a positive blog, maybe I erred in not putting everything out there for readers to see. So, thank you for bringing it up. Also, maybe we can explore that whole topic further…you have really got me thinking about it…It would be very interesting to find out how much in dollar terms corruption costs African countries and cities.


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