So here is a reality check – African entrepreneurial news is not as exciting as that of the US and even our European counterparts. The essence is different. In the top innovation countries like the Israel, US and Europe, let’s call it “real’ innovative solutions occur. So what am I speaking about? We will share insights as to the type of entrepreneurial ventures, solutions and market changing that have been instigated, influenced and forced within consumer markets and the future.
There is purpose to this. For most part Africa is not innovating enough. Most technology as example used on the continent does not originate from here. Africa has high value as a consumer market. So, let’s illustrate the kinds of headlines that Africa needs from current and future business leaders!
“If you never want to be criticized for goodness sake don’t do anything new.” – Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos, in his own right is a disruptor. He has an outsized laugh and his innovative company, Amazon is distinctive, innovative and successfully – disruptive. In short this is a man who forced retailers, authors and printers to reduce the cost of their books – globally. On November 19, 2007 the first kindle at $399 sold out. Not only did Bezos bring down the prices in the market – but through the Kindle, he opened up markets for authors. So we have the innovator of Amazon and internet Giant and then through connectivity of the internet – the Kindle.
Such is the innovation and market leadership of Bezos that when the time came for the Graham family to sell the Washington Post – Jeff Bezos came to mind. Donald Graham, Chairman and CEO of Graham Holdings Co. – the family owners of the Washington Post say that, “Bezos is in the best position in the world to think about the problems affecting news, the future of news and to bring a different kind of resources to bear than we possibly could.”
His next innovation in the pipeline is Amazon ‘PrimeAir’ – a concept that if commercialised will see packages delivered to our doors with robotic drones – that will reach market in five years. In short, Jeff Bezos has fundamentally changed how, where and when we buy or shop; how we read and how we store information.
For the fundamental purpose of this article we also chose a female.
“I think baking cookies is equal to Queen Victoria running an empire. There is no difference in how seriously you take your job, how seriously you approach your whole life.” – Martha Stewart
We have seen here in print, on the tele and on the radio – Martha Stewart has done it all. She literally created a billion dollar empire from a concept so simple. She turned domesticity into an industry. Martha Stewart has insatiable appetite learning – this absorption she then turns to her own advantage.
The second of six children, by the age of sixteen she was already making it big as a fashion model. From here she moved to Wall Street as a stock broker, opening up her experience to the business world. It all started right at home when Martha started a catering company that she turned into a million dollar company. She made being a wife and mother fun.
In 2004 Martha Steward was convicted of insider trading and sentenced to prison time. She could have kept the case going for years with an appeal but to everyone’s shock chose to do here five month jail time and came back as the creative director for her company.
Based on the consistent evolution of herself, Martha Steward was always going to reinvent herself and this is the culture and nature of the American society and infiltrates the business world well.
Today, she is also well known and regarded as the comeback queen.
What we do know is that African entrepreneurs need to focus on genuine ingenuity, an innovation facet that has kept sustainable businesses as those in the Fortune500 alive till this day.
We are not seeing true entrepreneurs create empires from nothing. In South Africa as an example – we need more entrepreneurs like the founder of “Black Like Me” hair products, as opposed to the futile efforts of Black Economic Empowerment that has enriched the political elite. We need more technological developments such as Mark Shuttleworth whose open source platform VeriSign for a cool $570.
Looking back, we also have prime examples such as what was once a corner shop is now what we know as Pick N Pay Super Markets. The pace to get to the top, to become famous has overtaken the pride of doing what we love doing. This has and will remain the fundamental to creating business empires.