Running a successful small business is never an easy task and doing such a task in Africa has its additional challenges. An African entrepreneur is faced with a lack of a skilled workforce, an unreliable infrastructure, and political barriers. However, with perseverance, the correct ideals, and a global/local outlook, one can overcome and create a successful business.
African entrepreneurialism has reached historic peaks in recent years and the entrepreneurial spirit in Africa is booming. While it is true that the continent as a whole has taken an economic hit due to today’s stressful oil and commodity economy, many countries have begun to diversify and focus on opportunities that exist in technology, healthcare, tourism, energy, agriculture, and more. This has given new hope to young entrepreneurs, who are feeling more positive about the prospects of successful business.
I started Angola Capital Investments, now ABO Capital, with a mission to create global value for developing countries in Africa while contributing to international countries’ economic development. We now are investing in more than a dozen companies throughout the world that are all helping to advance various economies throughout Africa. The entrepreneurial road map has not always been easy but I have stuck to three key principals that have helped me succeed.
Perseverance: Stay Active & Just Keep Moving
As an African entrepreneur, it is common to get caught up in bureaucracy and politics and find projects being put on hold. This kind of stop and go activity can make it discouraging for any entrepreneur but I believe it is important to never pause. You need to keep busy and no matter what push to achieve your objectives and goals. If one project is put on pause, find something else to work on in the meantime.
I also believe it is important to keep your body and mind active. I practice a strict fitness routine and start and end each day with a rigorous work out that helps get me into the right frame of mind. The mental benefits of working out easily match the physical benefits. I find that my mood is improved, I am more composed and I am more productive. I also encourage my employees to work out because active employees bring more energy to the office and they are healthier, taking fewer sick days.
Ideals: Do What You Believe In
One of the most critical aspects of success is sticking to what you believe in. It is important to set your values and always make sure every decision you make abides by those values and works towards something you believe in. It’s easy to get caught up in making money and finding fast success but if you feel uneasy about something or aren’t 100% convinced it is the right decision for you and your business, you are almost always better passing on the opportunity and finding something that you do believe in.
The same holds true for partners you work on. I always make sure every project we consider investing in and every company or individual that we consider working with hold similar values so we can find a common mission.
Think Global, Act Local
As you run your business day to day, it can be easy to focus on the “act local” part of the equation. But from the economy to politics to culture, global effects local every day. We must gain appreciation of the world at large so we can position our organizations to find profit and growth not just now but also in the future. The saying “think global, act local” began as a rallying cry for the environment. You could help save the planet by effecting change in your local community or by adopting more sustainable practices yourself. It has since evolved as a best practice for business and for global brands. In recent years, technology, the Internet, and social media have linked the world even tighter. Making it even easier to “be home” no matter where in the world you are.
The entrepreneurial landscape in Africa is improving right before our eyes. According to the World Economic Forum, the biggest business opportunities in the coming decade will be created by Africans who start businesses, generate jobs and wealth, and capture growth opportunities. This is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and those who are willing to persevere, stay true to their beliefs, and think global to set themselves up for success.