Celebrating African Ingenuity and Entrepreneurship
There is often a misconception by those living outside of Africa that it is a continent of depravity and extreme poverty, and whilst this is true in certain regions, there are lots of people making huge strides in the business world, making a positive change for their local economies, and competing on a global level with multinational companies.
African Awards for Entrepreneurship
The Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship is a celebration of young African business entrepreneurs who have excelled in their field during the last 12 months. The last awards ceremony was held in October 2012, in Accra, Ghana, and it was a huge success for all involved, highlighting the superb work of a large number of young Africans.
La Laiterie du Berger was awarded the prize for Small and Growing Businesses, having come up with an extremely beneficial and profitable business in Senegal. The dairy company discovered that more than 90% of Senegalese milk was being imported into the country in powder form, yet there were more than 4 million livestock herders living in the country that had the ability to produce milk at a local level. The company now sources and processes large quantities of milk for the Senegalese people from the semi-nomadic Fulani peoples living along the Senegal River, and this has made a huge impact to the local economies involved as well as the health and nutrition of those with access to the fresh milk.
Bridge International Academies was the runner up in the Outstanding Small and Growing Business Award, due to the huge success of their ultra low cost private school systems. The “school in a box” concept originated in 2007, since which time 80 private academies have been opened in Kenya, teaching more than 25,000 students. Schools operate for just $4 per month, and are able to provide a high level of education for that, helping to improve the lives of those able to attend.
Generating a Better Future
Forbes magazine recently published an article called Africa’s Best Entrepreneurs, and it detailed 30 of the highest achieving business minds in Africa who are all under the age of 30. Many of these young entrepreneurs have made their money working on local projects in Africa, and this is doing wonders for the local economies in which they are operating. Market stimulation is extremely important to the ongoing financial success of the region as it means that there are more borrowing options available to start up businesses in the regions where the economic situation is improving. This is a key part of the strategy required to boost the micro-economies in each of the different African regions, as selfgenerating profits and more internationally successful businesses will help to bring the sub-Saharan African Economy closer to others in the world economy. As well as helping to increase localized wealth distribution, entrepreneurs like these are tackling problems such as healthcare, energy production and food distribution. There is a new generation of innovators coming through, and they are taking the economy by the scruff of the neck and pulling it forward.
One of those listed by Forbes was Patrick Ngowi who identified a problem with the lack of sustainable and reliable electricity supply in the Northern Circuit of Tanzania, and he set out to solve this issue. Aged 28, his company Helvetic Solar Contractions Limited turned over more than $3 million revenue last year, and helping to create jobs and revenue for people in the local area. Lorna Rutto, also 28, was the creator of the now well established EcoPost company which uses 100% recycled plastic to create fence posts which can be used for a huge range of projects. The posts reduce the amount of timber being cut down, and provide a solution to Kenya’s increasingly large problem with waste plastic. It is businesses like these that are really making a big difference to the local economies where the projects are based, and they are helping to change perceptions from onlookers to the African continent. It is easy to forget how much of the world’s produce, new inventions, great business ideas, and awesome design concepts come from Africa, and it is encouraging to see such a wealth of enthusiastic and successful young entrepreneurs creating businesses that are competing at a global level.