Saturday, June 07, 2008

Problems faced by Young African Entrepreneurs below 25yrs [ part one]

I am a young Entrepreneur below 25 years in Africa and I want to put some of the problems I face alongside what some of my peers have been facing while doing business in Africa.
Unlike in the 1st world where age is just a number and guys like Mark Zuckerberg (24 yr old facebook.com guy), Blake Ross (22 yr old Firefox browser guy) can do normal business , here in Africa its a whole different situation.
Below are a couple of the problems:
- Young is equal to Wrong: As a young man, doing business in Africa, when you have a client who is an old man, about your dads age or a few centuries above you, he considers that you are not skilled enough and you could make soo many mistakes. No matter what portfolio you present, it will take the client a second thought and lower pricing to award you that project. The worst part is when its time to hand in the initial funds, they will prefer that you do the work they see before they hand in the initial funds. In other situations, if you want to tell them what is correct professionally, they will tell you to sit quit you are still young and they will say come let me advice you. Can you imagine someone with no skills in programming telling me how to build his web app or software ??
- Young is equal to Cheap: When your a young man, no matter how big your company is here in Africa. The client will not be comfortable paying you the amount he would have paid you if you were above 35yrs. So am I suppose to grow till 35 before I can be able to run my own company.
- Young has no right to take a decision: When your a young entrepreneur of my age, your parents would not want you to go the way your doing and if you follow your heart, they will either think your under a spell or your a criminal and start instructing you to do something different. personally I decided to be heady from the start but later they realised the road I was taking was where my heart was.
- Young is equal to incompetence: I can recall clients looking at me in despair after reading project documents and seeing the costing. I guess when they look at me physically and think of my age they just wonder how such a young African boy would be making such money. They dont consider the amount of time my firm is going to put in the project.

I think most African entrepreneurs should forget corruption and age descrimination, they should keep working hard and pay the price to stand out. After that their firm will be getting the clients coming.
If you are also experiencing some problems as a young entrepreneur below 25, please share your experience here.

15 comments:

Uchechukwu Ugo said...

Ya this really true

bangbang said...

guess it applies to us in India too.

mambenanje said...

uche, bangbang
thanks for sharing your thoughts towards this issue. And I am realy amazed this applies too in India. The comments will help me in the part two

Phebe said...

U know what i think, i think that it is possible to compete against the older guys if the way u present urself to them is stellar. meaning that in EVERY thing you have to appear professional. is true they might be older than you, but talk to them as if they really DO need and can't live without what your offering them, and trust me there will be results. Hmmm. i don't know maybe i see things from a different perspective. maybe the next blog u should post is about why there aren't female entrepreneurs running companies in africa today :) as a female who is serious about getting into the business, if people don't take you GUYS serious, how will they take me, a woman serious...good topic to talk about Mr. Churchill

mambenanje said...

hey nice comment phebe, and I think your case as a woman will be worse, I will do some research and come up with problems faced by female entrepreneurs.
As for the presentation, no matter how you present yourself to this old men, most of them will still underlook you as being incompetent

Bigmodel said...

I can't help but agree with you on many issues related to this article. I, personally, some years back I was into business back home in Cameroon running my father's wood enterprise as a manager. Then, I just got out of high school, and I was 19 years old. Many at times, I was been discriminated because of my age and I had pretty tough times with my workers(who were something like +5 years older than me) taking assignments from me ...later, I found out that my age was acting like a liability to many of my business dealings and creative solutions I had and because of this, I had to work extremely had just to offset this...

I think, it is time, we as a people, should stop this poor thinking of like "being young is being unwise or too risky or too cheap or something", it is counter-productive in the business world..to me, age discrimination is just another evil! It is not only exercised in the cooperate world but one can diagnosed this problem in almost every area in the Cameroon society.

Let's give room for the young to grow. Let's encourage and support them, assist them turn their imagination into physical equivalent.

We are now in a mental era...what should matter in our world of today is one's self worth!

Thanks for the post Mambe Nanje and many others...you are doing a tremendous fine work. Keep it up...you guys at AfricaVisioN might just be the next internet sensation!!!!

alberta atieno said...

dear mambe,
i can only say im in the same spot right now. i am really interested in your particular area of expertise myself. as a 19 year old investment strategist i have big dreams i need to turn into realities.

i have a company i had my mum open about 10 years ago that i have recently commenced using, yet every time i churn a proposal and a cost plan to a potential client, my age turns me int o a joke cum con-woman. i am neither.

i am just one of the few like you who realizes that my future is now.

i wish you all the best in whatever you do. thank you so much for your post, you have no idea how encouraged i am. its you and me too in kenya

Mambe Nanje said...

alberta atieno,
I am happy my blog post was helpfull in your situation. I wish you all the best and keep checking. Also I could be a potential client to your company hit me up mambenanje@afrovisiongroup.com

aimable said...

Dear Brother, you are really still young in mind, let me advise u on what you have to do instead of closing off ur business and wait till u get 35yrs old, i am also a young entrepreneur with almost 30yrs old residing in RWANDA country with atleast 5yrs in entrepreneurship. U kwon that time tells, and the quality of product markets itself without promotions. The most key success in entrepreneuship is persistancy. pls u need this:
1. Dreams .
2. Decisiveness success.
3. Doers
4. Determination
5. Dedication
6. Devotion
7. Details
8. Destiny
9. Cash – Getting rich is not the prime motivator of entrepreneurs. Money is more a measure of their success. They assume that if they are successful they will be rewarded.
10. Distribute – Entrepreneurs distribute the ownership of their businesses with key employees who are critical to the success of the business.

I have been struggling more than enough, but now i have decided no turnning back. so i encourrage you to be motivated and make sure your time is right now,,,,,,,, any assistance u may need from me pls conatct me on : ntagungira@gmail.com

Mambe Nanje said...

@aimable
thanks for supporting and encouraging me and for sure am following all of the above and my young business is doing fine. with stress as usual but we are fine

Anonymous said...

this is true, in Nigeria.you tend to be underrated if you are very enterprisinig.i sell websites and can remember vividly how people would make me write proposals without even considering it,preferring to tell the receptionist to always tell me to come back.onwuchekwa stanley

Anonymous said...

this is so true and somewhat unfortunate just hope that we as the next generation don't repeat the same cycle and embrace the truth that any society that does not invest in its youth does not deserve a future......lets also remember as young African entrepreneurs that nothing of value was ever built overnight and the rewards of success may come later in life but lets keep marching towards our goals

Mambe Nanje said...

@most recent comments
thanks for confirming and pushing out the reality we living in down here in Africa

generic cialis 20mg said...

I, of course, a newcomer to this blog, but the author does not agree

dimple said...

it is so very true...difficulties do come as ppl are more redundant in the way they thnk..ppl go with xperience whereas wat they require to c is the knowledge tat the person is having...