A while back, we interviewed Winnie Ouko, Director of Lattice Consulting and partner of Income|Outcome in Kenya. We spoke with Winnie about entrepreneurship in Africa, a topic we found so interesting that it deserves further exploration.
Though overflowing with natural resources, a lack of leadership has kept Africa’s people in bondage to poverty for generations.
Now, young intellectuals in many African nations are rising above their impoverished upbringings to write the ultimate “rags to riches” story. Click to Tweet!
George Ayittey, a successful economist from Ghana, has written numerous books about the economic state of Africa. He coined a new terminology for young, African intellectuals, saying,
“The Cheetah Generation refers to the new and angry generation of young African graduates and professionals, who look at African issues and problems from a totally different and unique perspective.”
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that sub-Saharan African nations are leading the global platform in early-stage entrepreneurial activity, with Zambia and Nigeria leading the world rankings.
The Cheetahs are smart, driven, and business-savvy. Their newfound economic success shouldn’t be taken lightly by corporate America.
Social Media’s Empowering Hand
The current millennials in Africa are a generation that has been let down by their government, time and time again.
Ayittey refers to the elite leaders in Africa as the “Hippo Generation.” Born in the 1950s and 1960s, these political leaders and businessmen are disconnected from the true needs of the African people.
With no emphasis on development and training, the Hippos are self-centered in their economic efforts and do not prepare for the needs of the next generation. To counter this abandonment, the Cheetahs are pushing aside the Hippos and paving their own way.
How? Social media has become an important step in bringing less industrialized parts of Africa into the 21st Century.
Marieme Jamme, the co-founder of Africa Gathering, said in an article for The Guardian,
“Social networks are talked about in villages, schools, and fast-growing cities where the middle classes are now demanding access to quick information . . . With access to computers, mobile devices, and internet connections, free social networks can enhance power of expression on the continent.”
Because of social media’s role in daily life, African people are becoming more and more aware of the Hippos’ negative effect on their economic progress. Africans are finally gaining the freedom to speak for themselves instead of being spoken for by ill-equipped leaders.
Success Stories in East Africa
All over Africa, young leaders and entrepreneurs are making waves. Kenya, in particular, is becoming a hub for entrepreneurial growth.
Eugene Mbugua, a 23-year-old Kenyan television producer, became especially interested in these rising African professionals. He began seeking out fellow Cheetahs in Africa and turning their stories into a hit television show called Young Rich.
Mbugua says he found inspiration to make the show when he noticed young people driving around in big cars and thought, “I want a big car.” He then started asking people, “How do you get a big car?” His newfound passion for learning about money-making techniques drove him to produce the show.
Not surprisingly, Mbugua’s television show has quickly become the most popular business program in East Africa, especially with young viewers.
Dennis Makori had never even turned on a light switch until the age of 13. He didn’t use a computer until his early twenties. But now, at 34, Makori has made millions as a computer programmer.
He is the cofounder of Onfon Media, a telecommunication service provider in Kenya. Because of the explosion of mobile-phone use in Africa over the past 10 years, Makori had the perfect niche for his skillset. He has had great success marketing this technology not only to businesses, but also to consumers.
Africa has also experienced an impressive increase in women embarking on entrepreneurial ventures. Lorna Rutto, for example, is a 30-year-old founder of a successful business called EcoPost.
EcoPost collects waste—mainly plastic—and makes eco-friendly materials like fence posts, tile, and furniture. By doing this, Rutto has provided a sustainable substitute for wood in order to decrease the depletion of Kenya’s forests.
Strides are being made by young women all over Africa, and specifically in East Africa, to become self-sustaining business-women. Read more about these women in our post, “Becoming Lionesses: Women & Entrepreneurship in East Africa“.
What do these newfound economic successes mean for Africa’s economy and for the world?
Considering that Africa is the home of over 1.1 billion people, which is 15% of the earth’s population, a strong presence in the enterprise could radically influence the global economy in the future.
The Cheetahs are changing the fate of Africa, for the better. These inspiring young men and women are hope for a generation crippled by the harshness of poverty.
Income|Outcome partners with men and women all over the world to help people manage their finances and fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. Our business simulations can help your team improve their corporate capabilities and reach their maximum potential.
Comment below and tell us how you have overcome adversity to yield a brighter future!