Scaling African Business

When we think o f scaling African businesses, we often look at it as a whole.  As a massive initiative that needs to be conducted through a five-year government plan.  This isn’t to say that Government cannot be a part of the equation.  But scaling African businesses is much more than looking at Africa, “the continent” as a monolithic entity that needs collective charity or even investment from outside sources.

This isn’t to say that investment isn’t useful.  However, many times those investments do not trickle down to the average citizen.  Remember there has been investment in Africa from foreign entities and nations for years now.  The greatest gains African nations saw in terms of material wealth on the micro level (individual level), came from remittances.  That is to say, African states must look to empower the average citizen with not just infusions of cash, but access to equipment and materials to scale their small businesses and farms.

It is not enough to have a foreign investor plow 45 million dollars into a cash-cow industry like oil, ITC or mineral resources.  These gains are seldom felt by the average individual.  And it is the build up of wealth in individual communities, businesses and families that creates truly wealthy and stable nation-states.  As a marketer, I can tell you that your greatest asset is word of mouth.  That strong person to person witness is invaluable.  Likewise, getting capital, equipment and resources in the hands of the average citizen is how to create economies and business that scale.  Companies that employ 5-10 people need to employ 30 and businesses with 30-50 employees need to employ 1000.  Government must be invested in the growth of the micro economy–the men and women that sell goods to you on the highways, the small merchants selling biscuits and roasted plantain on the street.

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