Netherlands-based journalist and publisher Iwa Adetunji* writes on how businessmen and women are silently driving development in Africa.
As gloomy as it may seem here and there, Africa is indeed rising. Africa is rising not because its governments have suddenly woken up from their slumber. It is rising not because the benefits accruing from its vast natural resources are now trickling down to the downtrodden. The continent is rising not because the Western governments are opening up more trade in place of the highly flaunted aid.
No doubt, Africa is still bedevilled in a number of places with the twin-devil of complicated bureaucracy and the lack of basic infrastructures such as regular electricity, water, good roads, connectivity; you name it!
Africa is rising in large part because many of its numerous enthusiastic and enterprising minds have decided to take the bull by its horn. They have waited and waited endlessly for the elusive ‘change’, and have decided to be the change themselves. In most civilised world, it’s the norm for the governments to provide the enabling environment to make it easier for its citizens to thrive in whatever gifts and talents they are endowed with. That’s the job of any responsible government. By doing so, the private enterprise does what it’s supposed to do: grow the economy through innovation and massive job creation, thereby creating massive employment.
By taking care of its own basic responsibility, the governments in turn create numerous outlets to make direct and indirect profit through various taxes, restive and responsible citizens (to themselves, family and society). Many western countries with no natural resources at their disposal are prime examples.
Like the rest of today’s world, the forceful wind of lady-luck by the inevitability of high penetration of mobile phones and the almighty internet (however minimal or restricted in most areas) is helping in no small means to bring about the badly needed change in Africa. Both have helped spur the growth of entrepreneurship far and beyond what was ever imagined.
Africa is rising faster than East Asia, including Japan. The majority of the fastest growing economies in the world in nearly a decade are in Africa.
Many young African entrepreneurs have managed to excel in their chosen fields despite all odds. They have surmounted business related challenges by mastering the universal core-ingredients of successful entrepreneurship.
As Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch social critic and scholar, once said, “Fortune favours the audacious.” In short, the common denominator of all these entrepreneurs is – if you have a goal, you have to go for it and not wait for it to come to you.
These savvy men and women are steadily evolving to be effectively where they are now in the face of daunting challenges. Notwithstanding their backgrounds, they are overcoming and surpassing entrepreneur related issues. They are our African prides showing us that while some people are natural entrepreneurs, anyone can pursue entrepreneurship successfully if they put in what it takes.
Many of these new age African entrepreneurs are iconic and unsung. They are trailblazers filling up big holes in the labour market by providing huge pool of jobs for others. This is negating the narratives bounded around the world about Africans as mere consumers instead of creators and producers. Their can-do attitude, spirit and success is indeed an encouragement to the younger and upcoming Africans that focus and steadfastness does bring in good dividend.
The story of these African entrepreneurs is an inspiring one that lend credence to the saying by Jesse Jackson, the African-American leader that, “If my eyes can see it, if my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”
They abound in sizeable numbers in all nooks and corners of Africa. They are in agro-allied, manufacturing, mining, IT, sales and services, including any other business sectors that you can think of. Look around and you will find few of them that are truly inspiring. Three examples will suffix here:
Lilian Makoi (Kenya) is the founder of Jamii Africa and co-founder of WaterTek Africa. With Jamii she is able to provide thousands of Africans in the informal sector with micro-health insurance products through innovation and technology. Similarly, her WaterTek Africa provides water to the underprivileged through the use of technology.
Tiguidanke Mounir Camara (Guinea) is the founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Tigui Mining Group, a mineral exploration company focusing on gold and diamond in West Africa. Her professional journey is a unique one because her career spans various industries. She has a background in fashion; was a former model and now a mining entrepreneur. Today, she is the only female mine owner in Guinea and one of the few and youngest women mining executives across the continent.
Jason Njoku (Nigeria) is the Chief Executive Officer of iROKO, one of the early video-on-demand movie platforms for Nigerian movies, otherwise known as Nollywood which produces of thousands of movies every year and its viewers cut across all nationalities in sub-Sahara Africa.
Africa owes a big thank you to these men and women who are striving daily, using their business acumen to play a pivotal role in solving socio-economic problems for positive change.
*Iwa Adetunji is the founder and Managing Director of Media Blackberry, the publishing company of one of Europe’s foremost African oriented publications, The African Bulletin. His book, African Entrepreneurs, 50 Success Stories published by MxPublishing, London is scheduled for release in May 2017 but available for pre-order on Amazon. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org