Africans are great visionaries, they are people who always have things they wish to build or ideas they wish to advance. They have great businesses ideas, and they have admirable visions for the development of their various societies. Talk to any African entrepreneur, and you may be shocked at just how much they've got on their minds. However, while their vision may be wonderful, the fact is that much of what these people plan to do never actually comes to fruition.
Take South Africa for example:
Last year, between November 18 and 24, South Africa and 137 other countries took part in Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), an initiative aimed at getting more people to talk about entrepreneurship. The initiative was started by US think-tank the Kaufmann Foundation in 2008 and two years ago more than 7.4-million people across the world took part in more than 19,600 workshops, competitions, seminars and exhibitions run by 7,609 organisations. However, South Africa continues to have one of the most poorly attended GEWs in the world. Although the number of participants in GEW events in the country peaked at 11,620 in 2011, last year only 2,309 people attended 16 events and workshops hosted by 29 organisations. This is far behind the 1.6-million participants that Brazil attracted last year, or even the 199,000 by the small island state of Barbados.
Last year in South Africa, only a handful of organisations hosted events during the week. Notably missing were the names of large companies and that of the government’s small business organisation, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), whose staff had only taken part in events hosted by other institutions according to SEDA spokesman Marius de Villiers.
It is reported that nearly 80% of small businesses fail within the first five years. Do business owners really want to fail? Certainly NOT!!! Then what's the problem?
The Lack of Knowledge
Many potential entrepreneurs do not have the right information and the full knowledge to plan actionable steps to achieve the various visions they have. Many people jump into businesses with no knowledge on how to run a business or knowledge on the type of businesses they run. They don't make the connection between seeking out and attending events like GEW, and achieving their goals. It is better to start up a sustainable business in five years than to start a business now and close doors in seven months.
Does this mean that Africans generally lack education? This is also certainly not the case. Zimbabwe for example, has an approximate adult literacy rate of 90%, yet the country is facing harsh financial failures and setbacks, many of which have been pinned on negligence and gross mismanagement. The problem here is cultural; too many people think it is generally acceptable to simply go to school just to pass exams and get a job, rather than pro-actively gaining knowledge that can be applied in creating new businesses and industries.
If we are to advance, It is essential for the current generation to move beyond this complacent mentality, and seek knowledge they can use to become the catalysts of growth and development, leading Africa towards it's destiny.