The answer is very simple. Africans don’t want to start small.
Recently a friend asked me why there so little African entrepreneurs in Europe, in America and among the westernized Africans.
My response was simple. Africans don’t want to start small. They are only interested in industrial entrepreneurship.
Industrial entrepreneurship means starting a business with a blueprint, years of expenses money secured in the banks through vested business plans, and a headquarter with a shiny front logo, nice cars parked on the side, and the CEO speaking all day long with journalists and posting the link on Facebook and Twitter/instagram, enjoying endless fame, recognition and accolades.
This is the king of the business they dream to own, right from the start, when you scratch their head.
Then there is the other type of entrepreneurship: artisans entrepreneurship, which means starting with what you have, where you are, securing your existence through good service to customers, frugality, self-discipline, humility, while been ignored during years with no time to be on Facebook or Twitter.
My next step to explain things furthermore is to point to the humble origin of most the enduring companies they often admire.
I also warn my friends that industrial entrepreneurship is for white kids from oligarch families, who receive millions dollars cheque for their latest night dream project. Failing does not affect their future.
Most African countries don’t print money at will like Americans and Europeans. And seldom banks trust a black man with their money, let alone on unproven ideas.
The Pakistani, Indians, Chinese in our suburbs are real, and are not ashamed to start small, without a press release or attending multitude of conferences. They pool money for a rent, team as a couple or friends, and sweat until it flies. They grow and ended up bigger and bigger, while building their communities.
When you visit China, then you can confirm my opinion. The Chinese export comes from myriad of semi-industrial factories with a good part of the work done manually. Contrary to illusions, the Chinese products don’t come from push a button and voilà factories, but highly artisan like production units.
As we the Africans don’t want to start small, we end up preferring looking for jobs inside big corporations, never dreaming of creating ours. We work for others.
The key is to Be shameless, dare to start small, using non industrial methods but pure ingenuity, forgetting about shining on Facebook or Instagram, or media coverages, while willing to get dirty to achieve your dream.
In the book ‘The millionaire next door’, it’s said that the majority of millionaires own boring small businesses.