THE AFRICAN ENTREPRENEUR
One’s cultural background comes to play in everything he/she does. That is to say that, there is a great possibility of realizing different approaches to solving a particular problem, when it’s given to people belonging to different ethnic groups in a particular country. This assertion does not only hold for citizens of the same country, but internationally, the manner in which issues are understood and approaches in problem solving may vary. This is basically due to the difference in culture.
The above stated fact also applies to the business world or entrepreneurship. If our understanding of who an entrepreneur is, is someone who sees opportunity in every single problem in his society, then we can say entrepreneurship is more of an abstract quality than an awarded title. With this in mind, it is more vivid how subjective our entrepreneurial skills are to our cultural upbringing. However, entrepreneurs all over Africa, are totally distinct. In this particular write-up, entrepreneurs from Kenya and Ghana will be used as a case study. This topic will be treated with the aim of flashing out the similarities and differences that exists between them.
Imani Ghana, a local think-tank in this country, has stated that, most successful entrepreneurs in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria own an average of six companies. This phenomenon, they say, is as a result of Africans’ fear of the unknown, in this case, what the future holds. Entrepreneurs found in Ghana and kenya fear putting all their eggs in one basket. With all the risks these entrepreneurs have taken in their career, it seems the risk of owning just one company and loosing it, is not a risk they would like to take. It is obvious, this is one similarity entrepreneurs found in these two countries share. Their eagerness to own more than one company at the same time, thereby securing their future and reducing uncertainties, seems to be a quality common to entrepreneurs found in both countries.
In Ghana, however, we realize that one of the most difficult campaign promises for politicians to fulfil is providing jobs for Ghanaians or reducing the rate of unemployment . There is massive graduate unemployment all over the country due to this. This has compelled most graduates from universities in Ghana to start their own businesses. In a more appropriate term, these young graduates try to transform their dreams into a reality. They face a lot of challenges establishing their own companies. Paramount amongst these challenges is the fact that most of these graduates are financially handicapped. Financial support is not readily available to these young entrepreneurs. It is extremely difficult setting up a company without the necessary financial backing. Therefore, many of these young entrepreneurs either persevere through hard times till they make a headway or most of them just lose hope and quit.
The need for the establishment of local companies can never be over-emphasised. There are various sectors of the Ghanaian economy that need innovative ideas to move this country forward. We have seen the establishment of certain companies that seek to solve some of the most difficult problems of this nation. We have seen individuals venturing into areas which used to be the sole responsibility of the government. This is highly commendable. But one flaw realized in most entrepreneurs in this country is the failure to take a more technological approach in solving problems. Nevertheless, there are many young people scattered all over the country who have made that attempt to develop software that address disturbing issues in the country. As stated earlier, these young entrepreneurs do not get the necessary financial backing to set off.
It is quite amazing how the situation is a bit different in Kenya. Kenyans have warmly embraced the idea of taking a more technological approach in dealing with issues that bother them as a country. Software development has truly caught up with the youth in Kenya. The enthusiasm and energy with which they have welcomed this has benefitted the country as a whole. It is a known fact that Africa is the second biggest market for mobile phones in the world. Clearly, Kenyans have fully taken advantage of this fact. The mobile app industry in Kenya remains a wonder to the world. There are many programmers in Kenya providing solutions to problems that confront peasant farmers, students and people from all walks of life. This has caught the eye of many multi-national companies like Nokia , who have invested a lot into training young programmers and also providing the needed financial backing for those who want to start. One advantage these programmers have over their West African counterparts in Ghana is the fact that they have been able to get the attention of international companies. This has put Kenya on the world map, and given them the necessary recognition to put their apps up for sale on the international market.
The Kenyan young tech-entrepreneur is definitely a trail blazer. I believe they are good role models for their counterparts here in Ghana. If Ghanaian entrepreneurs would persevere and work harder to meet the standards of financial institutions, they might just get the needed support to lift their ideas to necessary heights. This is also an appeal to the many financial institutions all over the country, to help the youth of this country to aid them in making their dreams a reality.