Turn your business into a “technology company” (Part 2)

Turn your business into a “technology company” (Part 2)

__What are you waiting for?

I was inspired this week to hear stories from so many of you who are using technology to connect buyers and markets, and, in the process, create income for yourselves. This kind of thinking will really set Africa alight!

One post really caught my attention: “It’s through OLX that I’m able to place food on the table for my family. What I just need is to get a wind of it that you want to sell something. I take photos using my phone and post it on OLX. Within a few days your product is gone and I pocket a few coins out of it. So my ‘little business’ is technology oriented.”

“Wow, wow, wow!!!” was my reply to Ken in Kenya.

When we later contacted him, Ken said he works as a police dog trainer (he’s a civil servant) and discovered he could use his phone to take pictures of things for sale which he posts on OLX. After posting the items (which have included even animals like goats and dogs), Ken waits for customers to call him on his phone. Like Econet’s Ownai online classifieds in Zimbabwe, OLX is a free mobile marketplace for all sorts of goods and services. You’ll find many such free platforms online.

To make extra money for his family, Ken even does commission sales for his friends, and arranges delivery. He also trains privately-owned dogs after-hours Sometimes he even sells puppies online (not police pups) thus expanding his potential client base.

I told Ken that there are people sitting at home who should be doing exactly what he’s doing… using a unique mix of skills, technology, fresh ideas and local knowledge to create their own little (or big) “technology businesses.”

In the palm of your hand today, you have at least one exceptional tool to open doors and close deals. What are you waiting for?

# Imagine what would happen if every smallholder farmer, informal and cross border trader across Africa discovered what Ken has discovered!
# Imagine what would happen if every single person who runs any kind of business in Africa set up a website (Africa has the lowest penetration of business presence on the Internet in the world)!

__These are things you shall begin to see. What we need is young people to go out and show others how this can happen so easily. This is all technology — changing the lives of people.

Techno-entrepreneurs like Ken give me so much hope for the next generation on our continent. (I highlighted Ken today, but you’ll hear about others later on). With the power of technology, everyone can be a winner: What do people want and need? Maybe it’s not invented yet. Maybe it’s available somewhere, but not in your country. Maybe it’s a service in short supply and you can bridge that gap. Maybe it’s old technology but you have the imagination to do something new with it, like Ken did.

No one really knew how much they “needed” a mobile phone till very recently in historical terms. Now most people can’t imagine life without one, or more. Technology makes it possible to build new bridges of all kinds. Do you know where you want to go?

To be continued. . .

Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.

9 Replies to “Turn your business into a “technology company” (Part 2)”

  1. Afterthought 1.
    “We build too many walls and not enough bridges,” said Sir Isaac Newton. He was one of history’s great scientists (the theory of gravity!) but was also a great student of the bible. Almost 300 years ago, Newton said: “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”

  2. Afterthought 2.
    The fact that you’re reading my post means you’re one of millions of Africans who have gone online, as Facebook is part of the Internet. As an entrepreneur or entrepreneurially-minded person (even if you don’t own your own business), you should be rushing to find ways to earn money by going online. Don’t get hung up that you have no capital, or that your government does not help you. Let people like Ken inspire and challenge you today. All these things like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Ownai, EcoCash, M-Pesa — they can be tools for you to make money for you and your family. They can help you contribute to employment creation and economic growth. It’s up to you!

  3. Afterthought 3.
    I went “cashless” 2 years ago!
    Yes, I decided I would no longer carry cash in my pocket, and I use plastic cards, or mobile money. I even bought a small wallet which cannot contain cash. It was quite challenging initially, but over time I have adjusted my lifestyle to eliminate the use of cash. In countries like Kenya, and Zimbabwe there are now millions of people who don’t carry cash. This is the future.
    If this is not yet possible in your country, just wait, because it will soon be possible.
    In most developed countries, people no longer use cash money for anything other than small things like coffee.

  4. Afterthought 4.
    One of the biggest international news this week, is a report that an African based eCommerce company called Jumia (which many Nigerians, and other countries know well) just raised over $250m from some of the most respected investors in the world. The company is now valued at over $1.5bn. Who will be the next Internet billionaire from Africa?–maybe you!

  5. Joemack writes:

    This is in thing in commercial activities in India, net marketing and sales

    My reply:
    In India and China, young entrepreneurs have taken to buying and selling goods Online in a big, big way, and some of them are now billionaires. China used to have informal markets such as we have in many African cities today; they have almost totally disappeared. I predict that within 10 years the same will happen in Africa, even vendors at street corners will disappear; it will all be done Online using a mobile phone. Let’s see which African country does it first.

  6. Daniel writes:

    I studied forestry at a time kenyan government was experiencing cash crises- meaning no job opportunities in forestry sector. After working on few low paying jobs & armed with experience, i joined face book & started advertising my services for farmers with idle land & would like to grow trees as a form of investment. I created a unique tree farming model ‘food forests’ where a farmer can grow wood trees, fruits fodder, beehives all under one roof. I formed a face book page ‘Creative tree farming & solutions’ where i interact with my farmer clients /prospective clients- thro face book am able to network & pay bills & hope to build an unique buz enterprise. Thanks strive, continue inspiring us.

    Every single entrepreneur on this platform should do exactly what you have done for their own business.
    Let’s also agree that within 60 days everyone who has a business no matter how small it is, or where it is will have a Facebook page (for business purposes), a website for their business.

  7. Onyinye writes,

    @Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Your highlight on Ken’s online skill is explosively inspiring. Like Ken, I built my house and family, selling magazine. I got into it while in Law school. I took it online 4 years ago. Before then, I was using bulk SMS , Facebook, LinkedIn, BBM and 2go contacts, to announce new arrivals and track delivery. Today WE have ecommerce portal with full social media plugins to promote, sell and track dispatch and subscribers opinion of our performance. Today we receive enquiries and subscriptions online from every part of Nigeria and delivering magazines nation wide. We have given employment and businesses to so many young Nigerians. We are actually prospecting for investors to enable us build our app. http://www.internationalnagazine.com.ng
    My vision is to do with magazines and books what Jason Njoku did with Nigeria movies..

    My reply,
    Well done. This is really great. I hope others are reading what you did and will also apply it to their own businesses. I like Jason very much and I admire what he did with his business iROKOtv, and we have partnered with him for Kwesé Tv.

  8. Tough Bone,

    Thanks a lot for your inspiration sir. I am a young film maker and It was through internet technology that I could raise 1.3m to shoot my 3 minutes short film “Shadow of Justice”. The current best action flick in my country.
    And if not for this same technology no one would get to watch it on my YouTube channel.
    People don’t know the value of technology until they try it. Thanks for all your teachings sir. ‪#‎AfricaToTheWorld‬

    My reply,
    Great example. Some of the biggest emerging recording artists, and movie stars are first seen through the Internet. Every single African artist,athlete, football player, musician should have a social media presence, and use things like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Let’s encourage them to do what you did. We have to step up Africa’s presence on the Internet. And we have to broaden our use of the Internet beyond social media. Things like Facebook whilst popular are a very small part of what the Internet is, let’s make sure people go beyond them.

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