A chat with Tony, and my Understandings Part 1

Oluwaseun Macaulay Written by Oluwaseun Macaulay · 2 min read >

Lucky to be one of the in-person listeners of the conversation between Mr. Tony Elumelu CFR and the Dean of Lagos Business School (LBS) Professor Chris Ogbechie at the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) program. The topic of discussion was Unlocking Africa’s Business Growth Potentials.

The conversation began with the introduction of Afri-Capitalism by Mr. Elumelu. Which is a call on Africans, within and in the diaspora, as well as friends of Africa to develop our own continent, embracing entrepreneurship and investment. A saying goes “What is talent without opportunity and what is ambition without a platform”, Afri-Capitalism hopes to provide these two things. And to aid the continent, those who can, should endeavour to provide capital and create the right environment (training, mentoring, connecting, etc.) for the people of the continent to grow and prosper. Only Africans can develop Africans, we cannot expect others to develop our continent for us.

Now, some say – myself included—that Africa can be the future of global business but how can this growth be achieved? To answer that, Mr. Tony said the next generation must be prioritised. We have to create opportunities for them, train them, expose them, create the right environment for them to succeed (access to electricity, transportation – mass transportation, security, education, etc.), etc. If we look towards handling all those areas, not for us but for the generations to come, Africa can become the future of global business. We all must be held accountable for achieving those things, not just the government but the companies and individual people. We all have a part to play.

There are significant challenges experienced by entrepreneurs in Africa but there are ways to handle them. As an entrepreneur, it is possible to be ethical in Africa, you just have to pick your battles, be willing to substitute some matters for others and most importantly, understand that this journey is a long one, there is time, do your feasibility, understand your market and don’t rush to making a profit while some of your processes are lacking. Take your time to crawl and walk, then learn how to run and after that, fly!

Starting a business is not easy, one of your biggest challenges might be getting a license, depending on your industry. To handle that as well as other challenges you come across, map who your stakeholders are & engage them and keep to your promises. Although, one thing to note is have a medium to long term goal, do not forget, you are in this for the long haul. You can have the mini short terms but always remember that you are working towards the long term. These long-term goals or goal will aid you in mapping and engaging your shareholders as well as keeping your promises.

To buttress on the three earlier points, when there is a goal or task to accomplish, one needs to know the people who can and will be affected, as well as how they would be affected. How they would be affected takes into consideration at what point in reaching your goal would the various stakeholders be affected. Thereafter, engage the stakeholders with that thought in mind, (this is what is being done and this is how and when you will be affected). Lastly, the most important of the three points is keeping your promises. This plays a huge role in determining if the stakeholders would trust you with other work or projects, if they would want to work with you in the future, if they’ll support you in your future endeavours or if they even want to be associated with you. A lot of companies make it or break it based on whether or not their word means anything. Make your words mean something so you will be one of the ones to make it.


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