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Africa’s 2015 Reality and a New Iteration of You

Some times my own words do not taste so sweet. I remember back in the 1980s, while living in Kenya, I told a group of non-profit workers that the big corporations and western business people have invaded the continent to rob poor Africans. They had come to seek profit and not raise the standard of life for Africans, I argued.

Yet, as I sat back and watched the reality unfold over the following years, I was persuaded that I was wrong. For-profit businesses were making major contributions to a better life for Africans. They created new jobs and provided products and services that improved health, revolutionized the grassroots distribution and marketing networks and provided instant communication and mobile cash to the disconnected and unbanked masses.

I ate my words.

Once I saw the economic changes that were taking place and that they were happening because of these for-profit businesses, I began to study the phenomena in-depth and became an advocate and mentor for it.

I created a new iteration of myself. I am still focused on Africa; read about it every day; talk to Africans every day; learn from Africans everyday. Instead of focusing on the old non-profit, temporary contributions toward African development, the new iteration of me is centered squarely on for-profit businesses.

The rising interest in African business brings about almost daily changes. Do you want to stay on top of the new understandings and opportunities in the current African business reality? To bring it into focus ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did I observe last year about business in Africa?
  • What did I learn from Africa’s successful entrepreneurs?
  • What did I learn about African relationships?
  • What new opportunities did I see?
  • Does my business fit the current African reality?

Of course, Africa is not homogeneous. You might want to substitute your current location in Africa, or your desired site of a new business, for “Africa” in the above questions.

Make the assessment. What do your answers tell you about your current business model and plans for 2015? If the answers do not cause you to consider a new iteration of yourself and your business, then you might want to go through the questions again.

Like all successful entrepreneurs practicing Lean Start-up Principles, you know well that profit begins and grows with constant new iterations.

I would like to hear what new iterations you are taking on. I would love to share them in an upcoming newsletter.

All the best in the new iteration of yourself,

Richard Chowning

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