Creating, maintaining and establishing a startup is difficult.
During my entrepreneurial journey in the US and my trip to Nigeria during the World Economic Forum and Women’s Inspiration Enterprise last year, I noticed one common thread; that all entrepreneurs faced similar challenges–irrespective of their geographical location.
Lack of knowledge or training, access to financing, and poor mentorship were common challenges that resulted in startup failures.
The challenges of establishing a startup is a global issue, however, in many countries (like Nigeria) that have further political and social economic complexities, starting out as an entrepreneur can pose an even more daunting challenge.
Tony Elumelu, a distinguished business leader, who was inducted into the Forbes list of Africa’s 50 Richest, is an advocate for Africa-focus entrepreneurs. With limited access to finance, electricity, and markets, and to address the needs and challenges of entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Tony Elumelu created the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program ( TEEP ) Program.
Years ago, Tony Elumelu, announced, in a video message, the official opening of his $100 million pan-African entrepreneurship initiative, TEEP. The Foundation, pledging $100 million towards creating 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa for the next ten years, was open to business ideas, submissions and entries from applicants across Africa via its online application portal, TEEP.
The following is what Tony Elumelu can teach every Entrepreneur who needs to run a successful startup (especially in the toughest phase, the developmental stage/ and emerging countries):
Create a vetting committee (a group of esteemed Entrepreneurs, Companies, and C-level executives from Fortune 500 companies) that will aid you in developing your business, ideas, products, and services is critical. Tony Elumelu led by example. While reviewing applicants for his program, he had a selection committee whose members included a few of Africa’s leading entrepreneurs and industry captains. Members included: Monica Musonda, CEO, Java Foods; Mariéme Jamme, CEO, Spotone Global Solutions; Ory Okolloh, Director of Investments, Omidyar Network’s Government; and Dr. Wiebe Boer, CEO, The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
As an Entrepreneur, confidence is vital. You create jobs and build economies. Your success triggers many others’ successes. Therefore confidence is not about being cocky it’s about having certainty in your idea. When your idea developed into a functioning company, you are contributing to the lives of others.
Your confidence should not only rest in your abilities but also your importance to making the world turn progressively. Tony Elumelu stresses the importance of entrepreneurs to the continent’s growth, let alone the world. He’s not cocky, he’s confident.
Education plays a significant role in promoting entrepreneurial attitude. Part of Tony Elumelu’s mission of this program is to create educational opportunities, to stimulate the entrepreneurial mindsets of young people. Looking for programs, workshops, seminars (free and paid) are essential to your development as a professional and entrepreneur.
4. Seed Capital
Let’s not water down the truth. Tony Elumelu’s mentorship program attacks one of the main issues that many entrepreneurs face, seed money (aka funding). One of the most challenging aspects of executing your vision and growing your idea is acquiring seed funding or having direct access to guaranteed funds. Securing seed funding (whether it is using your 9-5 to reinvest in your business), using sites like crowd funding, or acquiring a small business loan, it is essential to secure funding to be sustainable.
Tony Elumelu’s program provides mentorship within its program, further outlining the importance of mentorship in the entrepreneurial endeavors. It “takes a village” to grow successfully as a startup. Having a mentor is invaluable, especially when breaking the rules and making mistakes to build your business are so commonplace. Having the support of someone who has been there and done that could help.
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