Starting a Business in Africa: Tips From Women Entrepreneurs

Africa offers rich opportunities for women entrepreneurs, but your efforts are unlikely to succeed without support, courage, and strong…

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Africa offers rich opportunities for women entrepreneurs, but your efforts are unlikely to succeed without support, courage, and strong research. In this post, women entrepreneurs who are successfully doing business in Africa offer tips to those who are just starting out.

Develop a Plan and Implement with Courage: Njeri Rionge is one of Africa’s most successful women entrepreneurs. The co-founder of numerous multi-million dollar companies, including Wananchi Online, said in an interview with Mfonobong Nsehe at Forbes, You need only to believe in yourself, trust your gut feeling and develop a clear plan or strategy. Keep it simple and implement that plan step by step with courage, conviction and love above all.” Ultimately, Rionge says flexibility is important. “Be open minded and flexible to change course when needed, and listen to your customers.”

Look for Mentors: Kenyan eco-preneur Lorna Rutto is the founder of EcoPost, a company that is famous for transforming plastic waste into durable, environmentally friendly posts. “Women entrepreneurs should network and look for mentors who will advise, encourage and help them in setting up the business, and to also provide them with the visibility that they really need,” says Rutto, at Lionesses of Africa. “Surrounding ourselves with people who promote our ideas, rather than killing them, goes a long way.”

Start with What You Know: As a young graduate, Ivy Appiah started manufacturing food and beauty products from home. “It is very challenging when you have to think of an industry where all the big things, such as warehouses, require so much capital investment,” she said in a 2016 TEDx talk in Accra. But Appiah found she could manufacture yoghurt from her mother’s kitchen, and was soon supplying restaurants by packaging the product into packets for children. Today, her company Tiwajo Industry Limited does business both locally and internationally. “Start with what you know and apply your ability,” advises Appiah. “Make the whole process simple. And the impact is so clear.”

Align Your Business Concept with the Right Market: “Africa has 54 distinct markets,” writes Dr. Harnet Bokrezion, author of 101 Ways to Make Money in Africa, “and you have to be in tune with the particular market you want to operate in.” After you’ve carefully thought out your business concept, Bokrezion recommends making lists of your target clients’ characteristics, along with all that your business will need in order to flourish. “Once you are clear,” explains Bokrezion, “choose a market in Africa that ticks most boxes for you.”

Doing thorough research and setting out with confidence will stand you in good stead as you prepare to launch your business. Over the coming days, I’ll be posting further tips from successful women entrepreneurs who do business in Africa.

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