A discarded can turned into a work of art...Purchased from a craftsman at Harare's Avondale flee market (Zimbabwe).
A discarded can turned into a work of art…Purchased from a craftsman at Harare’s Avondale flee market (Zimbabwe).

Today is a very special day for Esaja.com – It’s not only a momentous occasion when Africans across the continent celebrate Africa Day, but also bears even more significance for Esaja. 25 May 2013 was the day that Esaja.com went live – a day known as Foundation Day. We’re inextricably bound to the success and development of Africa – ours is a mission of working with 10 million African traders to create a brighter future for 1 billion people in the next 5 years. It’s a mammoth task as we’ve learn’t over the past year, but one we are fully committed to. Thank you for being a part of this crazy dream, I assure you of nothing but total commitment to the cause. We will make mistakes, we will stumble, but we’ll never take our eye off the ball. We will never cease to believe in the power of our dreams.

It’s hard doing something at a scale and in a manner that’s never been done before, but we do it not because it’s hard – but rather because it is filled with purpose. Africa is no doubt making progress in it’s quest for development, converting even the most vicious of pessimists. However exciting the narrative is becoming, it’s very important to note that unemployment and barriers of participation too high for entrepreneurship to truly flourish. Small & medium enterprises across the continent are faced with challenges that would make any others shudder.In 2011, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a report on African companies and had the following gem of an statement hidden in it’s great detail:

The African challengers share several characteristics that have allowed them to prosper. First, they benefit from doing business in a place with many native advantages, including natural resources, cheap labor, and a fast growing economy that is unencumbered with legacy technology and systems. Second, they enjoy a beneficial business environment that includes market deregulation, national economic development policies, and commodity prices that, for most of the past decade, have been rising. Finally, they share the challenger mindset- a willingness to be bold & to recognise that a challenging economic environment is an opportunity to be creative and to expand globally.

While the technocrats at BCG were only looking at big companies, the real story is in the smaller guys. I’ve met a guy who was retrenched by a clothing manufacturing concern in Zimbabwe. This was after a huge government order had destroyed the big company due to poor payment. That guy worked as a manager there and didn’t give up but instead employed part of the retrenched team. When I saw them – they were hard at work on a Saturday afternoon producing shirts that compete with the Chinese blitz on price and surpass them on quality. He proudly retold a story of how a Mozambican trader began buy purchasing a few and kept coming back from more. These are the heroes that will move our continent forward!

As SMEs in Africa, we struggle to keep the lights on – pay more for less of practically everything and often do so with little to no support. As tough as the unending series of battles may become, we never cease to amaze others and even ourselves. We make the most of the very least and turn challenges into opportunities. We are African & that means we always make a plan, we always dare to dream & to act!

Thanks for taking time to read this post and let’s continue to build the Africa we long for!

 

clinton1

 

 

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