Successful African tech entrepreneurs have learned many lessons along their business journey, and they are often able to pass on great advice to the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Success means different things to different people. For one entrepreneur it means the ability to acquire other companies, for another it may be raising capital, while for another it is being able to make money while helping others.
We have gathered words of wisdom and useful advice from tech entrepreneurs who have grown their businesses across the African continent.
Here are 10 pieces of advice from tech entrepreneurs who made it in Africa.
Ommo Clark is the Nigerian tech entrepreneur and founder of iBez Nigeria, a full-service business software company. She achieved success by growing a thriving ICT business in a male-dominated industry.
“Whenever I encounter a challenge my first instinct is never to think that it’s because I am female but on overcoming it. I think people will respect you if you are good at what you do and deliver the right results,” she said in a Moguldom interview.
“Wisdom and experience is borne out in results. The Bible says by their fruits we shall know them. There are a few who are wise and experienced – we will consult them but let it not be in question who will lead the future. It is the young,” he said on Twitter.
South African CEO of software company Adapt IT, Sbu Shabalala is a leader who knows how to get the most out of his staff. His success has come in the form of heading a company that is now listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
“Our people (staff) must be able to grow. They have clear career paths, clear KPIs, clear incentives. We set stretch targets but share all information necessary for them to achieve these targets,” he told MoneyWebInvestor.
South African Lebo Gunguluza is an entrepreneur, media mogul and motivational speaker who owns Gunguluza Enterprises and Media (GEM) which focuses on hospitality and media. With a net worth of around $19 million, his success came in the form of becoming one of South Africa’s youngest black self-made millionaires, without any government funding, at the age of 27, according to his website, Gunguluza.com.
“Most entrepreneurs think entrepreneurship is about hustling. I don’t like the concept of hustling. You want quick cash. You don’t have a long-term view, you don’t build processes, discipline. I say, ‘Build a sustainable clientele’. Rather than going for quick cash, it’s important to build a sustainable business with discipline so the business can outlive you,” Gunguluza said to CNBCAfrica.
Joseph-Olivier Biley is the Ivorian founder and CEO of WeFly Agri, a startup that provides user-friendly, drone-enabled technologies and services developed exclusively for agriculture. The entrepreneur is considered successful because his startup was chosen as one of the finalists for the New Venture Competition run by Harvard Business School’s Africa Business Club earlier this year, according to DisruptAfrica.
“We have to make sure we do not mistake hype for reality, do not mistake hope for achievement, we still have a lot of work to do,” he said, according to Tech in Africa.
Tayo Oviosu is the founder and CEO of Paga, the leading mobile payments company in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. The tech entrepreneur is on a mission to change the way people think about money, and so far his efforts have been successful. Paga now has wider reach than all banks in Nigeria combined.
“Try your very best to raise money from other people, demonstrate progress and find people who believe in you, who would invest in your business so that you move forward,” Oviosu said on the GHOGH podcast with Jamarlin Martin.
Nigerian Temie Giwa-Tubosun’s company LifeBank implements digital supply chain strategies that enable the delivery of blood and other high-value medical products to hospitals and health centers across Nigeria, saving lives while ensuring better quality of healthcare through improved efficiencies. On the subject of successfully balancing family life with the demands of a startup, she shared this advice.
“My way of managing it is by giving myself permission to be flexible with my life and make sure I set aside time to spend with my family. As women, we have to realise that we are human and we don’t always have to chase perfection by trying to do it all. Work-life balance is about allowing yourself that flexibility and having a strong support system. My view is that I am a member of the family and this means the family has to support me as well,” she said, according to Africa.com.
Ghanaian David Osei was the co-founder and CEO of Dropifi, a startup that provided a customized smart widget that allowed companies to analyze, discover and re-channel messages. Osei was considered a success because Dropifi was the first African company to be excepted into the Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups program. The startup closed down in 2015, with Osei following his own advice.
“It is okay to fail, but it is not okay to not know when you are failing. You need to know when something is going wrong and what is causing that very thing to go wrong,” Osei said, according to HowWeMadeIt.
Vital Sounouvou is a Beninese entrepreneur who founded Exportunity, a trade management platform that allows producers and wholesalers of goods and raw commodities in emerging markets access to international markets. He has been successful because he has helped many business people while bringing African products to the world.
“I can clearly remember the day that I asked for my first bicycle. I had to write a letter to my father justifying why I needed the bicycle, and (what I) was going to do to deserve it. I can also remember those days where our father brought the whole family to farms to learn how to plant, grow and harvest crops, and also hunt. Events such as that one shaped my personality into understanding that everything had to be earned and that nothing was to be granted, and definitely planted the seeds of my entrepreneur life,” he told Moguldom.
Ted Boulou is the Cameroonian businessman behind Somtou, an intuitive software and hardware device that combines a solar-powered central console with a tactile screen, barcode reader and mechanical scale, allowing the device to record the many types of transactions that occur in small shops. Boulou’s success is due to him addressing the needs of informal and small-scale businesses in Africa in an innovative way.
“Our biggest mistake was perfectionism … But we realized that our main source of improvement would be customers’ reviews. We decided to go out with a minimal viable product and gather customer feedback. This made us progress a lot more quickly and efficiently,” he said, according to HowWeMadeIt.