Reportback: African Entrepreneurship Forum
Capacity building and peer-to-peer learning
It was with much anticipation that the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) launched and hosted the first African Entrepreneurship Forum on 18 February. The quick response and uptake from entrepreneurs throughout Africa just showed how much hunger there was to not only learn, but also to connect.
The second gathering, hosted the following quarter on 13 May, was no different. This iteration introduced the entrepreneurs to some opportunities (and insights) to aid them in capacity building and development, and, more importantly, peer-to-peer learning.
Information sharing sessions featured Visa (through their Practical Business Skills platform) and Human Capital International. Both organisations outlined their respective programmes that support entrepreneurs, albeit approaching this from different angles.
Visa’s Practical Business Skills is a platform that aims to help entrepreneurs get started in their journey, by providing a freely accessible e-learning portal that busy entrepreneurs can access whenever they want or need. Just one part of an ecosystem that demonstrates Visa’s commitment to “Digitally enable 50 million small and micro businesses”, the platform features 50 modules and videos, as well as various tools to respond to identified areas of need – all accessible at no cost to individuals.
In further recognising the potential for great impact through partnership, Visa also offers customisation options for organisations with access to broader audiences across the continent.
The 5×5 Rule: If it will not matter in five years, do not spend more than 5 minutes on it.
This phrase by Emmanuel Dei-Tumi, President of Human Capital International (HCI), was one of several memorable phrases imparted to our entrepreneurial audience. HCI is a capacity-building organisation from Uganda, which publishes books and other content, as well as facilitates labs and events to enhance entrepreneurs’ learning in their journey.
At this Forum, however, the platform belonged to our young leaders – with Andrews Akoto-Addo as moderator, and featuring Talifhani Banks (CEO, Analytics) who gave an inspiring keynote address before joining the panel discussion; Elizabeth Okullow (Co-Founder Aafri Fudi); Mahlatse Matlakane (Founder, Wozilex) and Alex Kamanga (Co-Founder & MD, Fundis) – all eager to share their experiences.
Entrepreneurship and Resilience: An Entrepreneur’s Journey was the topic of Talifhani’s address, outlining the key elements not just to his success but his tenacious drive to keep going, despite challenges. In reflecting on his journey, he highlighted a focus not on money, but on finding solutions to problems he identified, and the importance of connecting to those who this solution will help.
“Business is human-to-human. Practice humanity – it is key to growing and reaching out to more people,” he said.
He also challenged his peers to be tenacious in their journey: “You’ll go through hell, but why should you stop in hell? Keep going.”
Where opportunity met need was the starting point for these entrepreneurs, on their respective journeys and, while they may not have known immediately where this would take them, they followed their instincts and used resources to the best of their abilities.
Both Elizabeth and Mahlatse are active in the agriculture sector, where women are in the majority contributing to the growth of the sector, but not recognised accordingly. They shared their experiences with access to funding and identifying market opportunities, as well as the need to constantly having to prove one’s expertise.
In reference to the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek, Alex reminded everyone to “be resilient, approach every day as a new day; not business as usual. Always remember your ‘why’, and adjust your sail.”
This Forum was also the launch of the first Investor Readiness Workshop, offered by the Shared Value Africa Academy in partnership with Three Arrows Impact. The workshop will be hosted on 10 June 2021 with a select group of entrepreneurs participating as part of a pilot phase. More information on future workshops will be shared across our platforms.
Africa’s entrepreneurs are best placed to drive growth on the continent, and platforms like the African Entrepreneurship Forum will hopefully help them get there. A recording of the second Forum is available via this link. To stay in touch on the Africa Entrepreneurship Forum sign-up for our newsletter.
* Some interesting reading: New GEM research highlights entrepreneurship trends around the world. Read more here.