This is the first ever Esaja blog post, as you can imagine it was extremely difficult picking a topic for it. Esaja.com has been in the works for a very long time now. To make the shift from idea to product possible, I’ve had to face challenges entrepreneurs and businesses face on the continent every day. This includes but is not limited to power cuts, lack of seamless financial systems, expensive internet bandwidth and hiring headaches. I can personally relate to the very tough conditions out there, Esaja.com has emerged amidst them. Hailing from Zimbabwe, this is even more profound for me as we’ve witnessed record breaking inflation and a host of other challenges. The types that have been pushing skilled Africans to seek greener pastures for decades now…
So why am I bullish about the entrepreneurial potential and contribution Africa can make to the world? One word does it all for me. That word is Resilience. Each and every day, multitudes of people on the young continent wake up with a lot of uncertainty. They probably pause for a moment and ask themselves some of the following questions, like I have done before:
- Where will I find a job/means to sustain myself or family?
- Is leaving really the best thing for me to do?
- Was this education worth it?
- Where will I be in the next few years?
- How can I be part of the elite/the ones that has access to normal lives?
- All I want is to make an honest living, is this possible at home?
- How can I make a difference to someone’s life today?
- Will the lights be on this evening?
Most of the time, answers to the above questions are simply never found. But yet all those multitudes go on and step out into a daunting world. They do so not in search of aid, political handouts, or a one way ticket out, but a means through which to sustain their being. The traders in Alaba market (Lagos), Juakali (Nairobi), the Makarapa man (South Africa) and Mbare Musika (Harare) all share a common yearning for a better future. So too do the bands of cross border traders that move about the continent. It is by analyzing their activities and not listening to economists that Africa’s meaningful development can occur. They wake up and get things done, over and over again.
Since 2008, the global economy has undergone a beating that might only be outdone by the great depression. As the search for sustainable solutions continues, Africa has begun to attract more attention as the last great frontier. Many investors look at the growth figures and set themselves up for “a second scramble”. A lot of them will get their fingers burnt, some will “succeed” and the African sun will look forward to yet another day. No matter what, the African trader will march on. She will sell airtime, fresh fruit or sew beautiful garments. Her spirit of resilience will see her send her children to school and set the course for a better future.
Solutions for the development of Africa can be unlocked by looking within. Collaborating with international partners is important but Africa is best placed to overcome her own challenges. Great regional companies have begun to emerge amidst uncertainty. Telecommunications operators that were laughed at are now heroes, entrepreneurs are employing thousands and the need to serve bigger markets has become even greater. To make the most of emerging opportunities and contribute towards the development of the continent, one word is key…There will be sunny days, cloudy days and even rainy days. Whatever happens, for as long as you’re resilient, Mama Africa will carry you through.