Entries in Africa (12)


Success factors for African entrepreneurs

The associate director for Africa at the World Economic Forum, Rueben Coulter, recently posted his thoughts on what successful entrepreneurs do differently from those who fail.

Coulter first observes that entrepreneurs in Africa face unique challenges because they most often exist in a broken system — where poor infrastructure, intermittent power, inaccessible markets, and high-interest loans create steep barriers to success.

The factor that he focuses on to address these challenges: partnerships.

Most entrepreneurs single-mindedly focus on solving a particular problem, however when you work in a broken system then it will require a diverse set of partners to respond."

And in order to build the kind of partnerships that will serve an entrepreneur well, Coulter recommends the following:

  1. Adopt a systems-thinking approach
  2. Build a diverse network
  3. Identify a trusted broker
  4. Invest time upfront in finding the right partners
  5. Innovate your business model
  6. Say ‘no’ 99% of the time

 He closes with a fitting African proverb that I enjoy: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

-- Jay Jakub


The outlook for the African economy and food supply

David Leonhardt gives an interesting assessment of economics and the food supply value chain for Africa in a recent New York Times The Upshot column.

Observing that economic growth on the continent in the past decade has kept pace with growth in the rest of the world (see graphic, below), Leonhardt discusses how a healthy growing economy and a strengthening middle class might transform Africa's food production and value chain.

Image source: New York Times

African agriculture faces myriad challenges, including lack of access to agricultural technology, training, and market information, as well as an underdeveloped infrastructure. Numerous organizations, from the private sector to NGOs and government agencies, are seeking solutions to these challenges. Leonhardt seems optimistic, though he notes that "Progress isn’t inevitable just because it’s happened before."

-- Clara Shen

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