Note: Initial post was on facebook, but I have now decided to document it on medium. Link to the original article is at the bottom of the post. Thanks
Entrepreneurs this is for you! Struggling with funding and support for your viable business ideas?
This is a post you want to read!!! Introduction: Hi Everyone, my name is Ife Olarinde, I am a doctoral researcher in Entrepreneurship. My research focuses on African Entrepreneurs, I’m very passionate about startups and scaling of African businesses. In addition to this, I am also opportune to be a Business Competition Judge at Imperial College London. Where I seat on a panel with other industry experts to judge business plans as students pitch their business ideas to the panel.
My Background: will share a little bit of background about my entrepreneurial journey. I am pleased to let you know that I started my first business at Covenant University in my final year at the age of 19. I started selling merchandise in my room, you know at Covenant, the University was gracious enough to give us two wardrobes. I converted one of my wardrobes to an inventory shelf, and that’s where I stocked and sold my stuff. Within the first three months of being in business as an undergraduate, I was balling. I made N100,000 from selling my merchandise within 14 days. In fact the merchandise I was selling was always sold out within a matter of days. Which means there was a valid demand and most importantly I had the right network of friends to purchase from me. In entrepreneurship, we call this embeddedness. Which means I wasn’t necessarily doing anything out of the blues, the magic was the network I embedded myself in. I will come back to the magic of embeddedness very shortly.
Entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom: I moved to the United Kingdom for my masters at Imperial. After my masters, I got a job and went back into my entrepreneurial pursuit. Unfortunately, I was faced with the real-life scenario of starting a business. I started three businesses over here in England. My service based business was okay but my product based businesses failed woefully. This was when I began to ask myself questions, why am I unable to scale my businesses? What are the barriers, I looked around me and realized I wasn’t the only one. Almost all the black-owned businesses were just about breaking even. Very few were really having scalable business models. Just to let you know the ones breaking even were solely serving the black community. Which meant that outside the community they had no viable business model.
Entrepreneurship in Africa: Being the curious person that I am, I was also curious about how businesses were scaling in Africa to be precise Nigeria. I also saw similar issues, within the Nigerian economy, most of the startups do not scale. Have you ever wondered why Jumia a German-owned company is now a 3billion dollar company, whilst Konga an African owned company serving the same market, is still struggling? Here are some of the reasons why: Lack of information needed by entrepreneurs to establish a business and survive, Lack of access to funds and capital, lack of access to training and skill set necessary to run a small business enterprise, lack of honest, competent and affordable workforce, lack of a viable business model, too much copy and paste business models, most business models lack creativity and innovation, lack of a cohesive ecosystem in Africa, lastly lack of embeddedness (network).
Life as a Researcher and Solution to the above: As a researcher who is fully aware of these issues and is very passionate about how we can ease the pressure entrepreneurs face. A few of my colleagues and I decided to work together on embeddedness and knowledge sharing to start with. We have created a knowledge sharing group to help entrepreneurs have accesses to information required to kick start their businesses. We will be giving access to the following information on the platform, information on grants and funds for entrepreneurs, advise on business models, advise on business plans, give you access to our idea generation bank template and credible businesses will also have access to angel investors who will fund their ideas. Here is the link to the group, https://chat.whatsapp.com/invite/IJxL1Po59X6GAaF3tIFlvm kindly join and share with family and friends, all assistance rendered will be free of charge. We are all about empowerment and also have the backing of an African Development Bank Consultant in an advisory capacity. With businesses, there are no short cuts, but without knowledge infused into the foundation of your business, you are reducing your possibility of building a sustainable business. Still thinking about joining? I will ask you a few questions if you don’t know the answer, then this a group you should definitely join. What’s the startup bible for every entrepreneur? What types of entrepreneurship exist? I will ask you another question, have you had a strategy session around your business model? Like, used a canvas to map your business model? Even if you know the answers, please join, your knowledge will help others scale their businesses. Thanks for reading to the end and don’t forget to share the link with friends. Here is the link to the group,https://chat.whatsapp.com/invite/IJxL1Po59X6GAaF3tIFlvm