Entrepreneurship is inherently associated with risk accompanied by the possibility of great reward or great failure. Entrepreneurs have to navigate a landscape requiring them to get licenses, permits, hire people and find ways to pay for all this, all based on a plan and a hope that their ideas will see the light of day and sustain them and their team financially. The aspect of risk excluded them from economic models until the middle of the 20th Century when the ideas of theorists Joseph Schumpeter, Frank Knight, and Israel Kirzner brought them into the fold. Schumpeter proposed that entrepreneurs were inventors, creators of new ideas in the quest for profit; Knight suggested that the risk factor made them responsible for premiums in financial markets and Israel Kirzner seeing entrepreneurship as a process leading to discovery. (Investopedia)
In Africa, the element of risk is much higher than in other economies in the world. African nations have faced historical injustices and hindrances to growth that are deliberately imposed upon them by former colonizers. These, in turn, became the policies that run many ‘modern’ African economies that ensure that the people who are not connected, not influential or not seen as important, often find themselves dealing with a bureaucracy that works against them and causes them in many instances to throw in the towel early on. Other than that, issues of security and socio-economic stability in African countries and between African countries can easily turn a predictable situation into one that throws a business into turmoil. African entrepreneurs need to be nimbler and more creative than their counterparts in western and eastern economies to even earn a fraction of what those entrepreneurs earn. However, it is possible to do so, even without engaging in corrupt practices. More than possible, it is critical for Africa’s growth that those inclined towards entrepreneurship go forth and take the risks necessary to make a difference for our growing economies.
It must be clarified that there are many types of entrepreneurships in this day and age: technopreneurs, agripreneurs, academic entrepreneurs, corporate entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, or green entrepreneurs. Whichever the flavor, the common characteristics are that these entrepreneurs are not only creative but also innovative. They always come up with new ways of doing things that – if successful – will eventually make life easy for the people. Well, that’s if the good and ease of life for their people is their agenda. Another common characteristic that they share is being proactive in everything they do. They are the first movers who strike the iron whilst it is still hot. This is a distinctive characteristic that sets them apart from other people. They thrive on this and this is the reason why we end up having serial entrepreneurs jumping from one venture to the next with much success. Schumpeter was right in indicating that some innovations have the power to creatively disrupt the current state of things. This is exactly what happened when digital photography disrupted film photography and shook things up for big giants such as Kodak.
In whatever line of work that you are in, you can be an entrepreneur as you work to solve the daily problems of the general populace. This entrepreneurial culture should be inculcated in children as young as those in kindergarten, so that by the time they are adults, they have secure businesses generating income for themselves.
In Africa we need more entrepreneurial minded people to propel the continent to greater heights. The 21st century requires quick thinking individuals who change with time who will take up the doctrine of flexibility and be living testimonies of it. If this paradigm shift is incorporated, of letting go of the conventional way of doing things, we will go far. Imitating innovations is not a bad thing but it’s high time we capacitate ourselves to come forth with fruitful novel ideas that will lead to even indigenous innovations. Thus, this entrepreneurship discipline shouldn’t just be words on paper but it needs to be deliberately followed through, to end up as theory being practiced on the ground.
University incubation hubs should bring commercially viable innovations to the table that have the ability to be exported, if need be, like the Dedan Kimathi University in Kenya which is going to be the hot bed of producing semi-conductors, one of its kind in Africa. This way the African growth and development will be a sure thing and it will place us somewhere beyond those considered the big giants, such as China and America, which are countries known for their awe-inspiring innovations. By the 1940’s the American education system was already offering MBAs in entrepreneurship. Their education has been structured in a way that it inculcates and increases awareness in its students about entrepreneurial culture. This even led to the formation of the Silicon Valley under its ‘father’ Frederick Terman.
Without a doubt, entrepreneurship continues to evolve in sync with the digital way our day to day lives have turned out to be. Bearing that in mind, this might be a call for you my treasured readers to join in this bandwagon and be your own boss. It can only, start with you.
Nowadays even university graduates are being exhorted to start their own small business that will help in wealth creation for the whole nation, improving the quality of life of the people and creating employment through these new ventures. Do not die with your brilliant ideas, try them out, put them to use and you never know what might happen. It’s not a good thing to have misgivings later in your life when someone else ends up implementing a similar idea to fruition.
Entrepreneurship has many benefits attached to it, as long as you are willing to risk it at the onset. Calculated risk is a large portion of what entrepreneurship is all about. For you will be trying something new in the highest hope that the end results will be gratifying. Many entrepreneurs fail at this stage, for various reasons, with the most common issue being that they are risk averse. The point to take note of is that when you face up to failure the first time around, you should strive to overcome. Let failure be a stepping stone to success. Every success story has its hardships, the same applies to entrepreneurship. It won’t be smooth sailing, especially at the beginning. Bear in mind that a smooth sea never made good and skilled sailors.
As an entrepreneur you will be faced with many stumbling blocks, but you have to find a way to maneuver past this. Entrepreneurs are ever on guard and alert, looking for opportunities that other ordinary individuals cannot fathom are there. From constantly being vigilant in looking and searching for opportunities, the next thing entrepreneurs should do is to accept the risk associated with their new venture. When it comes to resources and finance you should leverage on the little that you have. Never let issues of finance and resources stop you, for entrepreneurship dictates a real entrepreneur worms his or her way out and around such tight spots; as one maximizes on what he already has on the ground.
At the same time, an entrepreneur should be a game player always putting their networking skills to good use in a bid to attract more customers or even business angels. Networking is a powerful skill to let people know about your products and getting word out. Through this whole experience, it can earn you referrals and later testimonials. At the end of the day many doors will open for you. This is why some people have friends in high places, it’s through their networking skills that have them rubbing shoulders with their targeted market in no time.
Your approach will depend on what drives you. Most entrepreneurs are driven by a vision, that is, foresight concerning what they want to achieve. It might take a long time and the road might be a bumpy one, but it is a rewarding one at the end of the day.
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Abigirl Phiri is a Ph.D student in commerce, free-lance writer, poet, International Ambassador of Peace, GBV activist, social entrepreneur, talent manager and an international marketer. More of her work can be found on her Facebook Page: Words are forever.