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The difference between having an idea and being an entrepreneur

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Many people have good ideas, but not everyone becomes an entrepreneur.

I’m often asked if there is a good way to work out whether your idea is a good one, so I’ve put together a quick guide for those wondering whether to make the plunge.

1. Evaluate your idea

OK, you have an idea. Now what? Good business ideas are a dime a dozen, and they are not all are worth pursuing.

Ask yourself: Have I done the due diligence necessary to take my idea to the next level? Does my idea solve a problem? Meet a need? Touch a nerve? Is it unique? Has it been done before?

Write down your answers, then critique them as thoroughly as you can. The best ideas are those that can withstand heavy critical analysis. If you can’t do this alone — which is almost always the case — then take your idea to someone you trust and ask for their perspective.

Still standing? Good. Let’s move on.

 

2. Plan for the future

Let’s assume that you have come up with an amazing new product or service that meets all the criteria outlined above. Good for you. Now it’s time to plan.

Ask yourself: What do I need to do to make this idea a reality? Have I developed a business plan? What are my capital needs? How far away am I from having a working prototype? Have I looked for potential partners and investors? What’s my distribution strategy?

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At this point, you may want to look for a mentor if you don’t have one already — a seasoned business veteran who can push you in the right direction, point out potential pitfalls and help you to navigate around them. I still rely heavily on others’ advice, though I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than five decades. After all, without the advice I received from some great mentors, Virgin might still just be a little record store somewhere in London.

3. Weigh the risks 

You had an idea, and now you have a plan. Great. Let’s talk about you now.

If you are feeling stuck and uncertain on your next steps, ask yourself: Would I rather keep paying my bills or am I ready to live on my savings for a while? Is maintaining my current lifestyle more important than having a fresh start in life?

You see, entrepreneurship is all about taking risks — potentially disruptive and frightening life risks. If your family depends on your income, it is your responsibility to think things through very carefully.

If your answer is still a resounding and emphatic “Yes” after you have weighed all the risks, then you are ready to leap.

4. Take the plunge

If you’re still with me at this point, the next stage should be a simple one: Take the plunge and give it a go. You can start small — but make sure you think big. Many businesses start off in people’s spare time as a side project while they are being developed.

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5. Don’t stop believing

The key to success is unwavering commitment and focus. You will make mistakes as you launch your product or service — a ton of them. But keep your eye on the prize and never blink. If you stop believing, your entire enterprise will be called into question.

In my case, when our team started Virgin Atlantic with just one plane and little knowledge of the airline business, we stood alone against established players who were ready to bury us. No one would have faulted us for throwing in the towel and going back to the music business. Yet we saw the enormous potential in disrupting and reinventing airline travel through superior service and innovation. So we kept going, and we are still going strong after three decades. It’s all about drive.

 

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$1.5m Prize Pool: Top 10 Finalists of “Africa’s Business Heroes” Grand Finale Announced

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The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH)  prize, a flagship philanthropic program created by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), has selected the top 10 finalists, who will pitch at the competition’s grand finale in November, for a chance to win a share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

The ten outstanding entrepreneurs – half of whom are female – have been selected from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African nations, following several rounds of rigorous evaluation. With an average age of 34 years, the top ten represent eight African countries: Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, and their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy, and financial services.

“I continue to be amazed by the passion, resilience, and vision of Africa’s entrepreneurs, and I look forward to meeting these ten extraordinary businesswomen and businessmen at the finale. I am excited to learn more about how they are driving positive change and progress across the continent,” said Jack Ma, Founder of the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Group.

The passion, excellence, and diversity of the finalists reflects the DNA of the competition. The ABH program will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and allocate US$100 million, over a ten-year period, in grant funding, training, mentoring and learning initiatives, access to key networks, and to develop a vibrant entrepreneur community to support Africa’s future business leaders. This is a testament to the Jack Ma Foundation’s long-term commitment to support Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes competition has been incredible. The quality of the entrepreneurs and their ideas has been exceptional and this is a testament to the talent that exists across the continent. I am extremely excited to follow the rest of the competition and see who will come on top as the 2020 African Business Hero!” said Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, ABH semi-finale judge and Founder of soleRebels, Garden of Coffee and Tefftastic.

“It’s been fascinating to be part of this unique initiative. From the start, I was struck by the diversity of people and projects involved, with the finalists providing almost even split of talented men and women from all over Africa. This competition has shone a light on our continent, and helped to showcase African solutions to African problems. As someone who knows how challenging it is to boot-strap their own business, I was heartened to see that many of the entrants are entirely self-funded, and have shown great determination, ingenuity and spirit to get this far. All the finalists are truly deserving of the opportunity they have been given. Jack Ma represents the very best in global entrepreneurship, so I am delighted to have been involved in such a fantastic project.” commented Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, ABH semi-finale judge and Founder and Chairman of APO Group.

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On November 13th and 14th, Africa’s Business Heroes will host its Grand Finale, and winners of the 2020 ABH prize will be announced on November 14th, 2020.

During the online Grand Finale pitch, the top ten Heroes will present their business ventures, as well as their vision and leadership profile, to the finale judging panel that includes: Jack Ma, Founder of the Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Group; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group; and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of the Alibaba Group.

The next few weeks will be crucial for the finalists to finesse their pitches and leverage the in-depth training, learnings and insights that they have gathered along their ABH journey, culminating in the finale. All of this will be part of ABH brand-new business entertainment televised show, due to air in five episodes from November 21st to December 19th across Africa. The show will give the audience exclusive access to the real-world stories of the entrepreneurs of this edition, following them as they go head to head in the finale, and unveiling the key insights and advice shared by the finale judges, alongside the best moments and experience of the competition. By showcasing the huge talent of the contestants, ABH hopes to talk to the entrepreneurial spirit of startups and small businesses in Africa and around the world, inspiring them to pursue their aspiration and turn their ideas and solutions into concrete business ventures.

 

Meet the Top 10 finalists:

Abdulai A Dasana, CEO & COO, Amaati Company Limited (Ghana)

“We nourish the world” – Amaati is a social enterprise whose mission is to build sustainable communities through the use of an extinct and neglected crop called Fonio. The company is led by Abdulai A. Dasana, an agricultural technologist with a decade of experience in finance, banking and SMEs, and with a vision to revolutionize the agriculture sector to benefit the most vulnerable.

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Aboubakar Karim, CEO & Founder, INVESTIV (Côte d’Ivoire) 

“Technology and passion for agriculture” – INVESTIV is an Ivorian company whose mission is to help build the future of African agriculture by leveraging innovative technologies to support smallholder farmers throughout Côte d’Ivoire and West Africa. The company is led by Aboubakar Karim, a 25 years old agro-economist.

Axel Emmanuel Gbaou, CEO & Founder, Le Chocolatier Ivorien (Côte d’Ivoire) 

“Cocoa revolution in progress” – Le Chocolatier Ivorien manufactures and offers Africa-made, handcrafted and quality chocolate, promoting sustainable cultivation techniques and a fairer distribution of income in the cocoa chain through a direct partnership with female growers. The founder Axel, who started his career as a banker and established the company in his mother’s kitchen, holds a degree in International Public Law, and a Master’s in Taxation.

Chebet Lesan, Founder & CEO, Bright Green R. Energy (Kenya) 

“Revolutionizing Africa’s kitchens” – BrightGreen Energy produces life-saving fuel bricks that reduce the cost of cooking for underserved communities across Africa and save forests. The company is led by Chebet Lesan who has a background in Leadership from The University of Cambridge, Product Design from The University of Nairobi, Supply Chain Management from Rutgers School of Business and a Business-Design Fellowship from Massachusetts Institute of Technology D-lab.

Cyrille Nkontchou, Founder & Chairman, Enko Education (Cameroon)

“Your launchpad to the best universities” – Enko Education operates the largest single network of private schools in Africa that teaches the International Baccalaureate curriculum to democratize access to quality international education for African youth. The company was founded by Cyrille Nkontchou, an economist by training with extensive experience as a fund manager, a banker and a consultant.

Ethel Mupambwa, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Moneymart (Zimbabwe)

“Creating wealth; changing lives”- Moneymart is a Zimbawean based microfinance institution that offers tailor-made business loans to MSMEs and individuals who live off the power grid to access quality solar-lighting-kits. The company is co-led by Ethel Mupambwa, who has nine years of experience in finance and is a Level 2 Chartered Financial Analyst Candidate.

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Dr. Emma Naluyima Mugerwa, Founder, MST Junior School (Uganda) 

“Little seeds, big dreams” – MST Junior School is a Primary School with a unique approach and learning model. It aims to equip the pupils with unique skills to solve agriculture issues such as food insecurity, waste mismanagement and malnutrition. The school was established by Dr. Emma Naluyima, a vet, farmer and educator with a desire to train young people and change their lives through Modern and Purposeful Farming.

Joan Rukundo Nalubega, CEO & Founder, Uganics (Uganda) 

“Buy a soap – save lives” – Uganics is a social business that manufactures life-saving organic anti-malaria soap to address malaria, which kills millions of people every year, and sells around the world at a high profit margin to subsidize sales to poor populations at the same price as regular soap. The company is led by Joan Rukundo Nalubega, a Malaria survivor and a social entrepreneur with a vision to fight Malaria.

Mame Diarra Bousso Gueye, CEO & Founder, Diarrablu (Senegal) 

“Artisans & algorithms for a conscious lifestyle” – Diarrablu is a Senegalese fashion tech company merging African artisan traditions with technology to empower African artisans and build an ethical and sustainable fashion future centered around ancestral African craftsmanship. The company is led by Diarra Gueye who has experience in finance, mathematics, and design and recently completed her Master’s at Stanford University with a focus on creative mathematics.

Oluwasoga Oni, CEO & Co-Founder, Mdaas Global (Nigeria) 

“Unlocking diagnostics for Africa’s next billion” – MDaaS Global builds and operates modern, tech-enabled diagnostic centers in clinically-underserved communities starting in Nigeria to provide a world-class patient experience at highly-affordable prices. The company is led by Oluwasoga Oni, an MIT-trained system engineer.

 

 

 

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Naira strengthens against dollar

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Barely 24 hours, the Naira was forced to a downward trajectory by dollar scarcity, it bounced back, closing at N477 to a dollar at the parallel market in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Pound Sterling and the Euro traded at N608 and N550, respectively.

The Naira, however, weakened marginally at the investor’s window, losing one point to close at N386 to a dollar.

The volume of trade at the window shrunk by 1.83 million dollars when compared to Tuesday, to close at 18.44 million dollars

The Nigerian currency exchanged at N381 to a dollar at the official CBN window.

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Oyo govt. will continue to support SMEs, Olaniyan assures

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The Deputy Governor of Oyo state,  Engr. Raufu Olaniyan has reassured the state’s government commitment to supporting Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in the state,

The deputy governor gave the assurance at the Commissioning of a new shopping mall ATM located in the Oke Ado area of Ibadan.

Olaniyan noted that small scale businesses with adequate support have the potential to be a major employer of labour.

He reiterated the state’s government desire to support entrepreneurs who chose to do business in the state, stressing that the present administration has put necessary machinery in place to make doing business in Oyo state stress free.

Alhaja Adeogun Tunrayo Muslimat,  owner of ATM mall had earlier informed that her desire to set up business in the state aside profit was also borne out of her avidity to support the government in the area of job creation, and also boost the economy of her home state.

 

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