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July 13, 2018

Generally, the most common outcome for entrepreneurs who hire friends is ruined friendships. So, can we really mix business with friendships? Can we effectively navigate both, with the knowledge that business relationships gone sour can ruin friendships?

Research suggests that social connections such as close friends are critical for our wellbeing as good friends help us put things into perspective. These are the people we speak to when we feel overwhelmed; they help celebrate our wins and enable us to move on from losses with our heads held high.

Essentially, our success is improved when we are supported by strong and stable friendships because for the most part, friends become advocates of our businesses.

This said, being a good friend doesn’t always equate to becoming a good employee.

While friends are likely to support your vision, work long hours, or accept less salary to help you build your business in the beginning; they can also have a negative impact on the business by bringing pe...

June 27, 2018

McKinsey Global Institute has identified four groups of consumers driving most of Africa’s consumption growth between now and 2025: those earning more than $50,000 a year in North Africa and South Africa, Nigerian consumers, middle-income consumers in East Africa, and middle-income consumers in Central and West Africa. Similarly, Economists project that by 2060, Africa’s middle - class population, which is currently around 300 million people, will triple to about 1 billion people. While this may present a lucrative market for products and services that entrepreneurs, large companies and multinationals are eager to access; this data cannot be used in isolation to predict consumer purchasing power.

Consider South Africa for instance; given the current tough economic conditions; consumers are shopping less frequently, spending less and buying bigger packs for better value. They are also becoming less loyal to brands as they seek out the best prices for the day-to-day practical usage. Essen...

June 4, 2018

Imagine what we could achieve in our businesses if we were able to spot potential problems in advance before they become catastrophic? Where we can detect problems ahead of time and solve them before losing too much money.

The costs and consequences of recalling faulty products from the market or the legal ramifications of failing to read the small prints on a contract or failing to pay taxes all can accumulate to millions, including the brand degradation associated with them.

In his book, Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School suggests that checklists can help most of us manage the extreme complexity of the modern world, regardless of the industries we operate in. He further states that in medicine, the problem is making sure they apply the knowledge they have consistently and correctly. He argues that failure or problems result not so much from ignorance (which is not knowing enough about what works, but from ineptitude (not properly applying what we know works)...

May 24, 2018

Imagine what we could achieve in our businesses if we were able to spot potential problems in advance before they become catastrophic? Where we can detect problems ahead of time and solve them before losing too much money.

The costs and consequences of recalling faulty products from the market or the legal ramifications of failing to read the small prints on a contract or failing to pay taxes all can accumulate to millions, including the brand degradation associated with them.

In his book, Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School suggests that checklists can help most of us manage the extreme complexity of the modern world, regardless of the industries we operate in. He further states that in medicine, the problem is making sure they apply the knowledge they have consistently and correctly. He argues that failure or problems result not so much from ignorance (which is not knowing enough about what works, but from ineptitude (not properly applying what we know works)...

May 10, 2018

Mentorship is an effective tool used to transfer business knowledge, perpetuate wisdom and expertise across generations. Mentoring relationships between mentors who are generally more experienced and knowledgeable business owners or experts in their specific fields and mentees who are less experienced or knowledgeable, have existed throughout history. However, peers have always been and are still the most underutilized source of mentoring support.

While it is important to identify highly successful individuals whom you like, respect, and trust to mentor you, remember that someone at the top of their field may not necessarily be ideal for what you need. So, do not pursue someone just because they are successful and famous; rather, identify different mentors at different levels whom you can relate to and who share your goals and understand your priorities.

It’s important to find a mentor you can see yourself becoming. In fact, I’ve discovered that the best business mentors are those who ha...

April 30, 2018

While energy access has increased in sub-Saharan Africa, with more people gaining access to electricity over the past 10 years; it has not kept pace with the rising population and other changes in the sector. Research shows that there are at least 600 million people in Africa who still do not have access to electricity, despite the continent’s endowment with all forms of fossils and renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, ocean and bioenergy. That represents a sizeable entrepreneurial opportunity.

In essence, Africa’s progress and economic growth continues to be hindered by the lack of power; hence the World Economic Forum warns that Africa risks missing out on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its economic benefits. So, there is an urgent need to support African countries to strengthen their capacities not only in the energy production but also in the planning, transmission and distribution to be able to optimize investments in the energy sector. Poor...

April 16, 2018

While passion doesn’t necessarily guarantee business success, it is one of the key and essential ingredients in entrepreneurship. It is your passion that determines your level of commitment and enables investors to have confidence in your vision, it is your passion that attracts customers and motivates you and your team to keep going during tough times.

Essentially, when you have passion you breathe in positive energy, excitement, enthusiasm and fire up commitment to succeed regardless of any obstacle. However, the same passionate disposition that drives you as an entrepreneur toward success can sometimes consume you if not properly managed. According to Psychologists, business owners are vulnerable to the dark side of obsession.

Basically, given our passionate disposition and the business pressures we deal with, we are more likely to also experience the strong emotional states such as despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of motivation and suicidal thoughts.

So, at what point does...

April 11, 2018

Imagine creating one African market; a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of businesses, trading partners and investments that enable us to trade with one another in the continent. Imagine prioritizing the production of value-added goods made in Africa, by Africans for Africans and the rest of the world.

44 African countries recently signed an agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA has a potential to boost intra-African trade by 53.2 %. The goal is to create a trade policy that all African countries in the free trade area agree upon.

Essentially, the African countries that have signed the free trade agreement will develop rules of engagement pertaining to various factors such as customs procedures each country will follow, tariffs to invoke if any, trade dispute resolutions amongst the participating countries, how goods will be transported for trade including...

March 26, 2018

It is evident that trade is a gateway to development as it contributes towards the industrialization and economic transformation of nations. So, boosting intra-African trade is critical to the development of the African continent. However, for the continent’s GDP to grow we need to collaborate in order to have significant production or purchasing power because alone we can only do so much.

While there are various factors that are barriers to effective intra-African trade which currently constitutes a mere 13% of the continent’s total trade, could stereotypes be one of the factors? Do we form unfair judgement about African cultures that are different from ours? Does this affect our ability to do business with one another across the continent?

I was recently invited to speak at the When Women Win Conference held in Nigeria, in commemoration of the International Women’s Day. I was taken aback by the warm reception I received, from the time I landed at the airport to the time I lef...

March 17, 2018

One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs and SME’s alike is how to handle clients who pay late or do not pay at all. So, how do you ensure that you get paid for the services you render to your clients?

When do you draw a line between preserving the relationship and risking a big fallout by taking things further to collect an outstanding payment? Furthermore, if an invoice is overdue, how should you address it? Especially if you still value the relationship and want to work with the company again. At what point do you need to involve a lawyer?  

Firstly, the best and the most sensible way to ensure you get paid is to work only for reputable clients so, it’s important to vet who you do business with. Despite your best efforts, there may be times when a client (including a reputable one) misses a payment deadline. How you deal with the situation makes a huge difference.

Here are a few points to consider:

1. Payment Policy and Contract 

Have a contract or payment policy in place...

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