25 Oct

Feed Africa: Adesina to set up fund for young farmers

“I am proud as the Governor of Iowa State to proclaim Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate.” With these words, the Governor of the State of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, officially named President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, as the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate, on behalf of the World Food Prize Foundation, setting off an atmosphere of festive celebration at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines.

Accompanied by Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, and John Mahama, former President of Ghana, Adesina took elegant steps to the podium to receive the award – the world’s highest recognition for food and agriculture, with his wife Grace and his two children, Rotimi and Segun, and a large and distinguished crowd cheering him on. Representatives of the Nigerian Government, Purdue University, his alma mater, friends, associates and Bank staff were among the well-wishers who came in out in large numbers to celebrate the African agriculture icon, known as “Africa’s Norman Borlaug.”

In line with his avowed commitment to a new deal for youth empowerment, Adesina pledged devote the US $250,000 prize money to a fund in support of young African farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs, or “agripreneurs.”

“And so, even though I don’t have the cash in my hand, I hereby commit my $250,000 as a cash prize for the World Food Prize award to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture to feed Africa,” Adesina said.

“We will arise and feed Africa. The day is coming very soon when all its children will be well-fed, when millions of small-holder farmers will be able to send their kids to school,” Adesina said.

“Then you will hear a new song across Africa: ‘Thank God our lives are better at last.’”

The President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, paid tribute to Adesina, “whose breakthrough achievements have impacted millions of farmers and those living in rural poverty in Nigeria and throughout Africa…”

Read more: Adesina to set up fund for young farmers, agripreneurs with US $250,000 World Food Prize money


19 Oct

How this South African banker found success in the fitness industry

In April 2014 South African entrepreneur Tumi Phake clocked out for the last time from his job at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), where he worked as a structured-lending specialist, to start his own business.

Despite his experience and having studied a BCom finance degree, it wasn’t the financial sector that Phake had his sights set on.

He is now the sole founder and CEO of Zenzele Fitness Group, a gym management business which operates fully-equipped health clubs for, and in partnership with, various large companies and universities.

Interestingly, RMB – part of the FirstRand group – was founded by three of South Africa’s most respected entrepreneurs, Paul Harris, Laurie Dippenaar and GT Ferreira. In 1977, they established Rand Consolidated Investments with just US$10,000, which later became RMB. Known as the three musketeers, the founders subsequently laid the foundations for the FirstRand empire, with today includes First National Bank, RMB, WesBank and Ashburton Investments.

Despite quitting a job at one of their companies, Phake draws some inspiration from these South African banking pioneers. “Working at a corporate was very valuable and necessary – especially around understanding the governance of running a successful business… But I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to have my own company that I could grow and potentially have scale to becoming half-a-billion to a billion-rand business – and that’s my vision. And if someone else has done it on their own, such as FirstRand – why can’t I give it a shot?”

Exploiting a gap in the market

South Africa has a relatively well-developed health club industry, with Virgin Active and Planet Fitness standing out as some of the prominent chains. Virgin Active controls at least 60% of the market. It was established in 2001 when Nelson Mandela reportedly phoned Richard Branson to ask him to save thousands of jobs by taking over the liquidated gym brand Health and Racquet Club.

Read more: How this banker found success in the fitness industry

21 Sep

Startup snapshot: Moroccan platform aiming to ‘Uberise’ healthcare

DabaDoc is a Morocco-based startup that allows users in the country, as well as Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa, to book appointments with medical professionals – from doctors to dentists. Patients can use DabaDoc for free, however, doctors pay a fee to be featured on the platform.

According to the founders, brother-and-sister team Zineb Drissi Kaitouni and Driss Drissi Kaitouni, their business has already facilitated over three million leads between patients and doctors. The duo briefed How we made it in Africa on how they financed their business and the biggest risks facing the company.

1. How did you finance your start-up?

The company has been bootstrapped.

2. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

Despite quadrupling or quintupling in size each year since launch, we still have lots of growth to do. We would continue hiring exceptionally talented people and expanding our footprint into exciting markets.

3. What risks does your business face?

We have established DabaDoc as a leading brand with over 5,000 active doctors and millions of patients. Our risks mainly lie in being able to execute our growth plan in our current markets and future markets we enter. We have substantially de-risked the business as it stands, as we are leading by far in our core markets and our repeat users are great promoters of the platform.

We always keep a very close eye on our market fundamentals to make sure we are proactive and not reactive to any important changes. It’s also very helpful for us to have raised capital from local strategic partners who help accelerate our growth with much more than just capital.

4. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Our users are our best growth channel. Both doctors and patients love our product, we score very high on NPS.

Read more: Start-up snapshot: Moroccan platform aiming to ‘Uberise’ healthcare


19 Sep

Nigerian Tech Entrepreneur Is Building An African Digital Powerhouse

Over the last 15 years, Africa has seen significant mobile telecoms growth and now data is being viewed as the ‘new oil’ on the continent.

Founder of the Terragon Group, Elo Umeh, a 35-year-old Nigerian with a knack for mobile, digital innovation and creative solutions, has made overcoming data access and reach on Africa’s most pervasive device the mission of the company he founded 8 years ago. With a vast amount of experience in the mobile telecommunications industry having worked in different countries in Africa – Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire – Umeh has consulted widely for various organisations in the telecommunications and banking sectors, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on management of rural telephony initiatives, mobile payments in West Africa and the deployment of new products.

A keynote speaker at TMT Finance Africa which recently took place in London, Elo Umeh is the current co-chair of the Mobile Marketing Association in Nigeria. He talks to me about being a significant player in a fast-growing market.

What has fuelled your entrepreneurial drive?

My love for digital has come from the iPhone. As an undergraduate in Lagos people couldn’t communicate unless they queued along with 30 or 40 people for hours to use a public phone. The government held a monopoly on phone lines and provided relatively substandard service, so not much was happening from a commercial standpoint. The development of mobile communications was a real gamechanger and from the beginning it began to make a significant impact across the continent. I realized it was going to change everything.

Why create a technology business?

I saw the potential of reaching an untapped market, that struggled due to the lack of basic infrastructure, therefore, development of communications, transportation, power and could be bridged through the innovation that potentially was being heralded by the launch of the smartphone in 2007.

Read more: How Nigerian Tech Entrepreneur Elo Umeh Of Terragon Group Is Building An African Digital Powerhouse

11 Aug

The ups and downs of building a pan-African business: In conversation with Aliko Dangote


The ups and downs of building a pan-African business: In conversation with Aliko Dangote. This is how Aliko Dangote, CEO of Nigeria’s Dangote Group, described the company’s expansion across the African continent.

Dangote started the business almost four decades ago as a trading enterprise – focusing on products such as cement, sugar, flour, salt and fish – and later ventured into full-scale manufacturing. Today the group is a behemoth with interests in cement, sugar, salt, pasta, beverages and real estate, to name a few.

Cement is one of Dangote’s most successful products, and the company is currently Africa’s biggest producer. It has existing and planned operations in 16 African countries, including Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon and Ethiopia. Dangote Cement’s unaudited results for the six months ended 30 June 2017, released yesterday, showed revenues from Nigeria reached ₦291.4bn (US$924m), while turnover from the rest of the continent stood at ₦124.4bn ($394m).

But it seems that even for one of Africa’s richest men, building a pan-African company hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Speaking during a session at the recent Afreximbank annual general meeting, held in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Dangote identified some of the international expansion hurdles his company had to overcome.

One of these has been legal action by local cement companies who weren’t happy with a new kid on the block. Some of these cases dragged on for as long as three years, and even ended up in the supreme court.

Political risk is an item high on the list of concerns for frontier-market investors, especially uncertainties about whether an incoming government will continue with existing policies. But Dangote said his company typically doesn’t get involved in politics, and aims to work with whichever party is in power. However, he conceded there have been challenges such as finding out that the “minister of finance himself is the chairman of the competition”.

To mitigate against the potential adverse effects of a change in power, Dangote advises foreign investors to decline concessions or incentives not available to other players in their sector. This means they cannot be singled out when a new government introduces policy changes – the entire sector would be impacted.

Dangote said foreign companies typically wait for the results of the next election before entering a country. However, once the election is completed, they again postpone their investment decision as they wait for the government to stabilise.

But this is not how Dangote does things. “With us as Africans, we are used to this, we are not going to wait for any election outcome, we will continue to invest. And even if there is a new government, we are not going to wait and see the stability of that government. We will continue in the hope that they will do the right thing,” he explained.

“In a country like Nigeria, from 1977 to date, we’ve seen 11 governments. And I think so far, so good – we’ve not been thrown out, yet.”

Becoming an electricity producer

Many African countries suffer from inadequate grid-connected electricity to drive industrialisation. However, Dangote Cement has overcome this challenge with a simple solution – generating its own electricity to power its plants.

“We are power producers… In the entire Africa, only in South Africa and Ethiopia, we don’t produce power. [In all the] other countries, we produce our own power for our businesses.”

Dangote added that in Nigeria, which is known for its significant electricity deficit, it costs the company three times less to generate its own power than what it would have paid to buy it from the national grid.

Cross-border trading challenges

Transacting across borders in West Africa is “very, very tough”, according to Dangote, due to the numerous extra costs and transport challenges.

For instance, the Dangote Cement plant in Nigeria’s Ogun State is located much closer to countries such as Benin, Togo and Ghana, than to some major Nigerian cities – Ghana is about 450km from the factory, while Nigeria’s capital Abuja is 670km. However, despite the proximity of these countries and the fact that they rely on imported cement from as far away as China, it has been challenging for the company to sell its cement there due to various border charges that can inflate costs by as much as 30%.

According to Dangote, the markets in some individual African countries are often too small to justify investing in a dedicated factory. To benefit from economies of scale, manufacturers therefore need to be able to easily sell their products across borders.

Dangote said the new $11bn oil refinery and petrochemical complex his group is constructing in Lagos will produce enough fuel and polypropylene (a common component of plastic products) to cater for the entire West Africa region. “In refining, the margin is not that much. So the only way you can make money is by volume of business.”

He further highlighted the challenges associated with moving staff from one African country to another. As a Nigerian, he requires a visa for over 30 countries, while a British passport holder needs a visa for only a handful of African territories.

11 Aug

The spirit of entrepreneurship in Nigeria


An ode to Lagos’s (Nigeria) numerous bridges, this pidgin expression basically says – “I am here to make money and not to waste time” – epitomises the ‘hustle’ in every Nigerian.

Every visit to Nigeria is fascinating and telling of peoples’ sheer drive and energy to do more to uplift themselves. Yet, Nigeria is very misunderstood. Take the infamous 419 scam. Commonly in the form of emails masquerading as potential windfall gains from helping a deposed ‘prince’, this scam is often first associated to Nigeria and Nigerians but really has its origins outside the country, the US to be exact – a fact that the public at large are oblivious and care to be oblivious about.

If one has a genuine interest in diversity and how people shape their lives, so many insights can unfold during a normal working day, that shed light on even the most misunderstood of places – and a chat with a taxi driver between meetings did just that. Breaching our security protocol and opting not to use the company car, I struck a deal with a local cab driver, Samuel to get me to the mainland following my meeting in Victoria Island.

Sam, who works for a hail-taxi multinational, rents his ride from the head of international trade of a leading financial services institution in Nigeria and he is a wealth of information. A software engineer by education and profession, he was part of the bank’s IT team. They had let him go as part of the bank’s recent retrenchment drive. Even specialised roles like Sam’s are at risk in a market like Nigeria – talk about competitive. Even for the less biased, finding out software engineers are in high supply in Nigeria is a surprise.

Telling me this wasn’t an attempt to elicit sympathy, I was nosy and had prodded him for more information, to which he gave in and decided to shut me up for the long ride.

Sam seemed to have taken his misfortune in his stride, partly because his full-time job was a ‘part-time job’, or rather just one of a few part-time jobs.

Take a gander at the number of business pies our friendly driver had his fingers in:

1. Acting as a facilitator for applications and permits processing for prospectors looking to work within the fabled Nigerian oil and gas industry

2. He and his software buddies are building a loyalty platform/engine and already have some interested clients (in his own words – ‘a loyalty platform similar to the Starwoods Preferred Guest programme’)

3. Along with a friend, he also runs a crude-oil pipeline-unblocking outfit. His friend, a sub-sea engineer with an oil and gas company, saw an opportunity in the millions that his employer spent flying engineers into Nigeria when oil pipelines got blocked. Having invested in US$20,000 pumps, they now reach out to oil and gas majors as an alternative to flying down specialist services from countries like Norway.

I cannot help but leave Sam a sizable tip. Who wouldn’t? Part of my conventional conditioning could not help but wonder how much of the story was true. Either way it was worth writing about.

Since these stories are more than commonplace in Nigeria – what can prospective investors potentially infer or learn from this?

Perhaps that there is local talent, aspiration and ambition in abundance in this market. Perhaps that conventional recruitment might not be the way to go and it is time to rethink local talent-sourcing and engagement strategies.

A key consideration factor should be that there is no safety-net for most people, only a keen sense of survival and determination that would be a worthy addition to any business looking to grow on the continent.
From HowWeMadeItInAfrica

09 Aug

Happy Women’s Day: We’re celebrating these 10 amazing female entrepreneurs from SA

South African Women's Day

To celebrate South African Women’s Day, we’re looking at 10 female entrepreneurs from South Africa and how they achieved success. Many are inspired by their families, but all of them have succeeded through hard work and sheer talent.

When women are empowered and able to implement their ideas on a business landscape, some truly wonderful things happen.

South African Female Entrepreneurs

  •  Farah Fortune, African Star Communications

Fortune didn’t have much look when she first started out, after taking the bold step to leave her job and begin this company. Times were particularly tough when she first started out with a young daughter to support.


Yet it seems Fortune was eventually favoured for being brave: Her African Star Communications network made a name for itself by giving platforms to previously unrecognised talents (Loyiso Gola, Jason Goliath).

Her ‘build from the ground up approach’ has paid dividends for her, and Farah is continuing to flourish in the job she risked everything for

  • Lize Fouce, Number 1 Foods

Her muesli-based food company started up shortly after she gave birth to her baby girl. Fouce threw her last few thousand rand at a steel roasting drum to deal with the demand for her snacks.

The drum created a unique flavour in the muesli, which gave her organisation a new unique selling point. The roasted version was an instant hit, with her Nutri-Start product available in Pick N Pay stores nationwide.

  • Vanessa Gounden, HolGoun Investment Holdings

Vanessa has taken a seriously hands-on approach to her investment business, which has been up and running since 2003: The company only invests in outfits that they can directly help grow and develop.

For the last 14 years, Gounden has acquired a diverse portfolio of businesses, with partnerships in mining, healthcare, property and media. Holgoun currently has a net worth of R3bn. That is unbelievable, take a bow Vanessa!

  • Angel Jones, Homecoming Revolution

Another company that began in 2003, Jones set up a network aimed at headhunting African talent currently working abroad. Homecoming Revolution have thrived over the last decade, and their M.O shows how they’ve cracked a gap in the market:

“as a website to tell the stories of people who have come home – the good bits and the bad. You’re not a failure if you come back; you’re a pioneer, entrepreneur and revolutionary, and look at all these amazing things that are possible. Don’t wait till it gets better, come home and make it better.”

  • Sonia Booth, Bonneventia S Footwear

She founded Bonneventia S Footwear and manufactures her shoes in Johannesburg. Local designer Thula Sindi has even used Sonia’s shoes in his shows and more local designers are following suit.

Her business has grown into successful enterprise. Booth now offers her customer pedicures while they wait for their custom made shoes to be made

  • Nicole Stephens, The Recruitment Agency

Nicole is leading something of a revolution with her recruitment business. The savvy entrepreneur solely employs four women on flexitime and they also have no head office or basic salary – they are utterly fluid.

They’ve used the technology at their disposal flawlessly and it has created a sustainable, impressive business model that will be the envy of many. They can all conduct their operations through Skype, WhatsApp and E-mail. It’s incredibly futuristic!

  • Nkhensani Nkosi, Stoned Cherrie

Since she launched the fashion enterprise in 2000, Nkosi has showcased her range at New York Fashion Week. Recently, Stoned Cherrie introduced the beautiful talents from New York-based South African designer Darryl Jagga.

Stoned Cherrie continues to grow and has recently expanded into eyewear – a firm favourite of several African and international icons, including South Africa’s pop singer, Lira.

  • Amy Kleinhans-Curd, PLP Group

PLP Group (Pty) Ltd is a diversified services company that provides brand enhancement and stakeholder engagement solutions to clients across Africa and the rest of the world.

The former Miss South Africa has proved she is equally smart as she is beautiful, and has been operating in business for the last 24 years. As a successful mom-of-four, her remarkable career makes her look like a very humble superwoman.

  • Michelle Okafor, Michelle Okafor African Designs

“Today, her distinctive and colourful designs can be found in boutiques and in her online store. Okafor’s collection includes everything from dresses to jackets, shoes and accessories. Her vision to combine traditional African culture with urbanity can clearly be seen in every piece.”

  • Basetsana Kumalo, Tswelopele Group

Aged just 20, Kumalo negotiated the first external contract SABC handed out to an all female production company when Tswelopele Productions – who she owns a 50% stake in – took on the responsibility of making Top Billing. The rest is history…

She’s gone on to launch an empire of make-up, clothing and sunglasses as well as ventures into mining and property businesses.


via The South Africa

08 Aug

Nigeria: Govt Announces 27 Industries to Enjoy Tax Break Under Pioneer Status (Full List)

The federal Nigerian government on Monday released the full list of the 27 key industries and products who will enjoy a tax break

The federal Nigerian government on Monday released the full list of the 27 key industries and products who will enjoy a tax break, being included in the revised list of ‘pioneer status’ incentives for prospective investors.

At the end of the meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, last week, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, disclosed the approval given to the 27 industries.

Mr. Enelamah did not, however, list the 27 industries.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, later confirmed that the creative industry was among the 27.

Earlier, the trade and investment ministry announced the lifting of the administrative suspension on processing pioneer status incentives, PSI, applications for prospective investors in the country.

Some of the benefits of the pioneer status include tax relief, mainly for corporate income tax.

Here is the full list of the 27 industries to enjoy the pioneer status.

Mining and processing of coal;

Processing and preservation of meat/poultry and production of meat/poultry products;

Manufacture of starches and starch products;

Processing of cocoa;

Manufacture of animal feeds;

Tanning and dressing of Leather;

Manufacture of leather footwear, luggage and handbags;

Manufacture of household and personal hygiene paper products;

Manufacture of paints, vanishes and printing ink;

Manufacture of plastic products (builders’ plastic ware) and moulds;

Manufacture of batteries and accumulators;

Manufacture of steam generators;

Manufacture of railway locomotives, wagons and rolling stock;

Manufacture of metal-forming machinery and machine tools;

Manufacture of machinery for metallurgy;

Manufacture of machinery for food and beverage processing;

Manufacture of machinery for textile, apparel and leather production;

Manufacture of machinery for paper and paperboard production;

Manufacture of plastics and rubber machinery;

Waste treatment, disposal and material recovery;

E-commerce services;

Software development and publishing;

Motion picture, video and television programme production, distribution, exhibition and photography;

Music production, publishing and distribution;

Real estate investment vehicles under the Investments and Securities Act;

Mortgage backed securities under the Investments and Securities Act; and

Business process outsourcing

Via AllAfrica 

02 Aug

Mobile contributes $110bn to sub-Saharan economies

sub-Saharan economy

Sub-Saharan Africa is, and will continue to be, the fastest growing mobile market in the world, contributing  $110bn to Sub-Saharan economy

By the end of the decade, there will be more than half a billion mobile subscribers in the region, up from 420 million at the end of 2016.

Among the growth drivers is the under-16 age group, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the population in many countries, and women, who are currently 17 percent less likely to have a mobile phone subscription than their male counterparts.

Mobile is now also a significant contributor to the sub-Saharan African economy. In 2016, mobile technologies and services generated $110bn of economic value, equivalent to 7.7 percent of regional GDP.

This figure is expected to grow to $142bn, or 8.6 percent of GDP, by 2020. The mobile ecosystem also employed about 3.5 million in the region last year, and contributed $13bn to the public sector through taxes.

Here are some of the key trends industry group GSMA has observed:

Transforming industries

Across Africa, mobile is transforming traditional industries and enabling innovative business models to deliver affordable and sustainable services.

Perhaps one of the best examples is mobile money, which has been critical in advancing financial inclusion over the last decade. There are now 140 live mobile money services in 39 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for nearly 280 million registered accounts.

Today, more than 40 percent of the adult population in seven countries – Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe – use mobile money regularly.

Utilities are another area where mobile is driving innovation. Mobile-based, pay-as-you-go solar enables access to clean energy solutions, with entrepreneurs partnering with mobile operators to deliver the solution.

Growing by nearly 40,000 systems per month, there are now one million home systems installed globally. Some 95 per cent are in sub-Saharan Africa, impacting about 4.8 million people.

We see similar innovation in sectors such as healthcare, agriculture and others. This is just the beginning as we move forward in Africa’s digital age.

Fuelling economies

Local mobile operators have invested $37bn in their networks over the past five years, mainly to deploy new 3G/4G mobile broadband networks across the region.

Fuelled by growing access to mobile data services and smart devices, the local mobile ecosystem is flourishing, supported by investments from operators and others in mobile-focused start-ups and tech hubs.

Seventy-seven tech start-ups across the region raised almost $370m in funding in 2016, up 33 percent from the previous year.

However, this continued growth and investment is not a given. The mobile industry faces several challenges, such as high levels of taxation and outdated regulatory frameworks.

Positive collaboration is needed between governments and the mobile industry to enable innovation and extend connectivity to all.

Connecting everyone

Looking beyond the numbers, mobile is positively impacting African society and helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in time for the 2030 deadline.

Mobile operators across Africa are working together to deploy mobile-enabled solutions to deliver key services such as health and education, increase women’s access to mobile, create employment opportunities and decrease poverty.

Of course, the mobile industry cannot solve the challenges of the SDGs alone – no one can. Governments, industry, humanitarian organisations and individuals must come together to build sustainable partnerships.

Having just visited Tanzania and witnessed much of this first-hand, I am struck again by the power of mobile to foster innovation, to fuel economies and to transform lives across Africa.

[Via thisisafricaonline]