Business

Op-Ed: Young Africans Are Ready To Make Money

Young Africans

It’s not news anymore, Africa is undergoing a silent revolution within its core. Not so much on the outer layer but if you look within, a magnifying gaze at the underground scenes of different microscopic industries you’ll feel the pulse of a new, young, innovative and curious generation reinterpreting what they envision for their future.

It’s been a long time coming and as 2018 comes to an end they’re beginning to secure their own place as growing legacies for years to come. They’re influencing the music you listen to, the garbs you style yourselves with, the tech improving your lives, the information guiding your thoughts, how art is perceived, everything that forms the essence of a culture embodying what they represent you’ll find their shadows slowly creeping into the light. These individuals are creating in uncharted waters without any systematic support only their will keeps them fighting.

Being part of this New Age hasn’t come at an easy cost and a lot has had to happen for this moment, bringing me to this particular instance to talk about what I feel is next to push even more frontiers, and that’s Money.

Having a dream, a start-up, an idea, or any thought that propels to create something from scratch can only be supported by luck, virality, bootstrapping or social media for so long. To grow, to be better, some sort of monetary value must be invested to actualise an improved step. A lot of ideas and individuals have simply given up or faded into the past because of un-sustainability in a fragmented continent that has no support system to aid them.

Over the past few years, I’ve been involved with a lot of startups, founded by individuals under 30 and dreamers with unique talents in different mediums. A common problem has been funding. Having the monetary framework to pursue their goal or even start.

Being trapped in the system is quite easy, young and resourceful but caged is a common plague among most young people. Maybe this has been good for a few pushing them out of their comfort zone and into a state of embracing something out of the conformed cycle their lives were predicted to go. The system doesn’t allow for the ideas of the young to thrive, it’s extremely difficult to monetize companies. More importantly, most of us aren’t aware of how important being business inclined in whatever we do is, we weren’t educated with a value of economics well enough.

To create the change we have to create a money value within our generation, to earn our respect we need to fund our ideas and place them at the center of our development as a New Age. This article is a call to make business dealings more prominent in every sector carving a niche for young Africans across the continent. There’s a lot the internet has provided in terms of information, and studying the things being done around us. We can do more. African start-ups raised more money in 2018 than they did last year.

We gathered a few points to help in taking the necessary steps to make sure you’re being business conscious both for young start-ups and individuals pursuing a dream.

Understand The Business Of What You Do

Unlike developed societies, most African countries are still very young, and most still suffer through terrible economic, social, political and medical states. The precise structures to be set in place to help nurture ideas, talents and companies are sporadic in existence. In the past, knowledge wasn’t so widespread, but those times have changed with the power of ‘Google’. With an infinite pool of knowledge, we can diversify our thoughts into pursuing multiple things that aren’t normally accepted in the typical African home, and also have glass hole to view how others around the world have accomplished something similar, allowing us to perfect it in our own way in relation to our environment’s needs.

It’s very important to know what you are doing, whatever it may be, read up on it, what it means, how it works completely and most importantly how to grow it into a career/thriving business. Steve Jobs once said, ‘Its the job of innovators to create and know what consumers want’. Having an innovative start-up or being talented is one thing, but knowing how to grow the idea through monetization, and expanding the impact to people with more quality and value is what we should aim for now. To do this you must have a profound understanding of what your dream or start-up requires.

Networking.

Living as a young person in a major African city like Lagos, I’ve learned to move with a very fast pace and meeting different sorts of people along the way. As an introvert I was never into going out or meeting people, my haven was on my bed but running companies with minds like Korede or Cosmas has taught me a thing or two about the importance of being physical.

So many things have happened just this year alone, Festivals, tech hackathons, concerts, art events, business forums, you name it. In whatever field you’re creating in or industry your start-up specializes there’s an event that will allow you network and know more about how what you’re doing works in the country and who you’re up against. Meeting people in your industry is key, it’s a great way to meet like minds and the industries top players. You don’t have to be at every event, only the ones that have importance to what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to pitch yourself, idea or company. You’d be surprised how many deals have happened cause two people were strategically in the same place.

Grants.

The government is definitely not going to help you directly here but there’s always a loophole in everything. Top fintech company, Paystack got their start through a grant by Y-combinator. Grants and funding exists in different forms, you just have to seek it out. Not only tech companies get invested in through grants, from fashion to art, music, media, etc, but there are also multiple grants -you can apply for African and global platforms.

Get involved, the idea of the grants is to find young individuals and platforms that don’t have any aid but have the idea and skill unique enough to create something remarkable. Always be on the lookout for any grant that might help. You might be the next start-up or talent they’re looking for.

Business Plans.

This applies to entrepreneurs in Africa seeking investment for their company or idea, have a concrete business plan detailing what your company is about, what you plan on doing and how you will make money out of it while serving your customers with something unique, innovative and important to your ecosystem. It’s very easy to overlook a business plan but it plays a significant role in how the company grows over the years, it helps investors interested know what their putting money into and it gives the founders and staff an outlook of what they plan on executing and how it’ll be monetizable to keep them growing and expanding.

Writing a concrete business plan isn’t easy but you can Google tips on how or get a financial officer to help you structure one based on the needs of your company or idea.

Working With Multinational Brands.

Africa is in its Golden Age right now which means a lot of foreign countries have their eyes focused on the continent, and a lot of multinationals are sweeping in to have their piece of this new economy. In approaching this new terrain they usually work with the people on the ground to help them understand and navigate the people. With the cultural impact the New Age is having in dictating what’s relevant and trendy, most brands are working with young individuals and start-ups to build campaigns and ideas that will position them at heart of the young African millennial.

For young companies or individuals creating partnerships with these companies [depending on your field] could help boost the image of your brand both locally and Internationally while creating a stable business partner sure to help finance your growth if done well.

Politics.

Across most countries in Africa, politics has been an old’s man game for the longest but that seems to be slowly changing with the refreshing climate of politics across the continent this year, from the election of Ethiopian president and prime minster, NotTooYoungToRun campaign in Nigeria, one can say this is an important time to be more involved in politics.

Politics not only affects the general welfare of the people but also the economy, especially for young companies and individuals. Learning how policies work to favor the growth of different fields is very important. Most of these policies aren’t favorable for now for most ideas to thrive effectively but by actively being conscious about them we can work towards change. Working hand in hand with the government to lobby in new policies.

Companies with problem-solving ideas are the future of Africa, we have the chance to bring something incredible, groundbreaking and innovative to the world. For us to keep forging on we need to equip ourselves with the structures that will allow us to be financially independent to create and grow at our own will, without being curbed by global powers or our naive system.

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