Half full or Half Empty?


I once came across a statement by Richard Branson, he said: “Africans are natural Entrepreneurs”. I am not quite sure why he thinks so but I agree with him. From my perspective, a continent plagued with societal problems is a reservoir of vast opportunities. Jack Ma put it this way: “opportunities lie in places where complaints are”.

To build a business that will achieve sustained success, it is important to solve a real need. For instance, an entrepreneur who decides to help working mothers with grocery shopping/weekly errands at a fee is likely to be successful. Particularly if such an entrepreneur decides to target bankers that work in a city like Lagos.

Now to depict this clearly, the challenges identified are traffic jam and long work hours coupled with the need to maintain a home. In fact, we might add the closing time for supermarkets.

All these are challenges that create an opportunity for an entrepreneur who can step in to bear the burden. A problem is being solved in a profitable way. The entrepreneur actually creates value. This is the concept of social entrepreneurship.

An entrepreneur for illustration purpose. Courtesy Bossip.

In Nigeria, there are many opportunities waiting to be exploited: the issue of dirty roads, plastics that can be recycled instead of clogging canals, the need to buy pharmaceutical products from reliable sources, STEM hubs for children in public schools, creating inventory apps for market traders and many more. And as we discussed in the last article, you can pick a chunk of the entire problem and start with that.

Most often when a real need is not being met, the entrepreneur finds it very difficult to sell. One has to do so much to convince the customer of the need to buy the product. In some cases even when it is an excellent product/service, you might get the customer to buy once but a repeat purchase is very less likely.

A salient idea to note here is that the more generally applicable the problem identified is, the more money you are likely to make by creating a solution. So you can either solve a challenge peculiar to 10 people, or one that is peculiar to 10,000. Of course, there are many other considerations such as right pricing, continuous innovation and easy accessibility for instance.

But in essence, identify a problem, see it as an opportunity, create a relevant solution and offer it at a reasonable price.

Sustainable success in entrepreneurship is doing well by doing good. The glass is either half full, half empty, or a great platform to provide more water.

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