Tips For Success From African Entrepreneurs Who Made It

February 26, 2015

Whether they own a successful flower shop or hire thousands of employees in their investment company, if you want to know how to make it in business, who better to ask than someone who’s actually made it? They’re obviously doing something right. But even among the success stories, you’ll see some advice repeated over and over, while other tips are based on individual, circumstantial experience. Here are some tips for success from African entrepreneurs.

Jannie Mouton, founder of investment company, South Africa Mouton is the founder of the PSG Group,

A top investment company in South Africa. Here are a few tips he offers: Analyze your strong points, your weak points, and then look at the outside world to identify what opportunities and threats are there. Choose competent people, place them in key positions, and trust their judgment. Be decisive. Rather make the wrong decisions, but you have to make decisions in life.

 

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Maybin Mudenda, private equity specialist, Zambia

Mudenda holds 50 percent of African Grey Insurance and 20 percent of Genesis Finance. Mudenda gave these tips in a BBC interview:

  • “Do not rush it. Entrepreneurs are often too quick to present their business ideas. An idea must be perfected first through extensive research and planning before being presented to a potential investor.”
  • “Learn from your mistakes: One of the most important ways to assess an entrepreneur is to see how they respond to failure.”

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Francis Oghuma, entertainment promoter, Nigeria

Oghuma is the founder of Naijaborn, a social network focusing on happenings in Nigeria. Here’s what he’s said of his success:

  • “You have to hang in there. When you have the right product and you wait long enough, the rainy day will come.”
  • “Putting in the street style works for me. Formal training can help but businesses are driven by passion and innovation.”

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Gaulphine Nyirenda, bookseller, Malawi

Nyirenda is the brains behind Mallory International Ltd, Worldwide Bookselling Services. The company sells mostly education books in the fields of technical, medical, legal and vocational, to name a few. The company specializes in British exporting bookselling. Nyirenda says the secrets to success are:

  • “Hard work. Being honest with my customers, telling them the truth, honoring my bills, and knowing what it is the customers need in the area.”

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Fred Robertson, executive chairman of investment corp., South Africa

Robertson is the executive chairman of Brimstone Investment Corporation and the boss of more than 3,000 people. Robertson says:

  • “You mustn’t be afraid of hard work. Remember overnight success is never overnight. Hard work and honest, innovative, clever thinking all has to come together for you.”
  • “Go meet with other entrepreneurs that you think are better than you. You could find that they aren’t that much better than you but it’s nice to admire somebody else.”
  • “Go work with people with high energy, who are clever and have integrity.”

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Dominique Lalous, logistics company manager, Mozambique

Dominique Lalous is country manager for the shipping and logistics company DHL in Mozambique. He says:

  • “Focus your energy on what’s in your circle of influence. Everything outside that circle is a waste of time. That doesn’t only apply in a business environment, but your personal life as well.”

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Benedict Mundele, founder of organic food company, DRC

Mundele is the founder of Surprise Tropicale, a local, organic food canteen and catering company. Mundele said she learned this about location, location, location, when starting her business:

  • “I need to think more carefully about where I position my store, and what the needs of the customers are. Then I can better adapt my offering to their needs, as well as stay true to my vision.”

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Dinah Binah, florist, Tanzania

Dinah Binah owns Dina Flowers Co. Ltd. Some of her tips for success are:

  • “If someone asks, ‘Are you selling your blouse?’ sell it! You can always buy another one.”
  • “You have to network, network, network. Families, friends, classmates, schoolmates, the people you met in church, neighbors — they are all your prospective customers.”

Stani Muke, graphic designer and animator, DRC

In 2003 Muke blazed trails by establishing a production company for TV, radio and graphic design. Muke noted that he was very on his own. He said this: You must have “…lots of patience and nerves of steel.”

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Rahman Bholah, logistics company manager, Mauritius

Rahman Bholah is country manager for shipping and logistics company DHL. Bholah puts an emphasis on responding to trends. He says:

  • “The best advice I’ve received is that business is dynamic and subject to trends. And as a good business leader I should anticipate these trends. Success depends on the speed at which we respond to trends.”

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Sylvia Banda, restaurateur, Zambia

Sylvia Banda is the owner of Sylva Food Solutions, a company that connects local farmers to markets in Zambia. She also runs more than 16 canteens for corporations. Banda’s advice is:

  • “…persevere. I remember very well the first day I opened my restaurant. I did not have any chairs…Today, we have 16 eating places in Lusaka and we have opened a college training students in hospitality.”
  • It is important to say to yourself, “I am as good as the other person. If that person can do it, then so can I.”

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