African Entrepreneurs must be Proactive

Published on 1st November 2010

The developmental reality of the 21st century is plagued with complex socio-cultural, economic, political and technological milestones and challenges. During the last 100 years, the globe has witnessed extraordinary entrepreneurial novelty, higher frequency of ground breaking technological innovations and discoveries. These phenomena have changed the way we live, think, plan, act and function. The extraordinary innovations and progress in the information technology is making Africa to fast become the focal point of interest in socio-economic and technological developmental continuum amongst international and local stakeholders.

Due to rapid  globalisation, the world business community is no longer ignorant of what Africa can bestow. It is indeed the epoch of increased global integration of national economies at least at continental and regional levels. African entrepreneurs must seriously consider expanding their business outreach and impact beyond their domestic domains. They should do this before others do it on their behalf and -right in their backyard. 

The current global scenario has heightened competition in areas such as  manufacturing, trade finance, construction and  technology among other business activities.  On the other hand, it has also created an atmosphere of cooperation and partnership at both macro and micro levels across business ventures, countries and regional groupings for sustainable business growth.

Increased competition and  inter/intra-country business cooperation and partnerships should not be seen as contradicting scenarios. Rather, African countries ought to see them as complementarities that contribute to wealth creation and  indigenous entrepreneurial innovation. The new global reality is marked by sectoral shifts, policy reforms, greater global interactions and heightened influence of both economic and non economic factors.

African entrepreneurs need to realize that economic interactions are now filled with higher momentum for bilateral, regional and global treaties, strategic business partnerships and major paradigm shifts that tend to make fundamental techno-economic and socio-cultural transformations at every corner of the globe. Business ventures need to actively and skillfully engage in the rapidly internationalizing business environment by promoting strategic partnerships and cooperation in terms of subsidiaries, joint ventures, outsourcing, import-and- export links; technology transfer and business sharing, among others. These are mandatory prerequisites for African entrepreneurs to remain competitive, vibrant and sustainable.

Thinking Continental (and Global) and Acting Local

African entrepreneurs must acquaint themselves with  regional, continental and global business dynamics in order to enhance their stake in the international business environment. Businesses the world over, are affected by factors beyond their borders. It is time for African entrepreneurs to connect with one another. Regionalized (or continentalised) economic and business interactions are needed more than ever.

Unaware of what is pushing the global reality; most African entrepreneurs still devote their time and energy in a local market domain. This narrow outlook will not guarantee business sustainability and growth. Unpreparedness to boldly confront the global business and socio-economic reality is one of the causes of the downfall and untimely death of many indigenous business ventures. Entrepreneurs must show personal dedication and tenacity in taking advantage of emerging business opportunities. They must be well versed with the nitty gritty of global trade regimes; regional and bilateral trade and economic partnerships; national socio-economic settings; industrial and economic productivity ambience and corporate business practices.

Embracing an “international attitude” among African entrepreneurs and key managers is important in shaping the degree of success in the vital international business opportunity hunt. Conducting business across borders is more than just involving oneself  in import-export trade. It encompasses engagement in other activities such as: direct investment; joint ventures; consulting; technology acquisition and skill transfer; among others.

Africa should show that it is indeed the most endowed not only with abundance of natural resources but human creativity and ingenuity as well. This immense potential should be realized with the entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and dedication of the African people.


Whereas African entrepreneurs express their eagerness to boost business activities locally and internationally, sheer wish alone is not sufficient. They need to prepare themselves more than ever to face the current and forthcoming challenges. This requires hard work and collaborative efforts in all fronts and at all levels. 

The world’s stock of knowledge is currently doubling every two years. The remotely observed events are here with us with the whole context of global business environment. Let us expand business across Africa. It should be primary by us and for us. This is a call for the able and talented African Entrepreneur. There is no doubt that the current and future African entrepreneurial young talent will do that. President Obama was right to invite representatives of the young African business and political leaders of tomorrow and tell them that they are indeed the prime builders of the better, the new and the savvy Africa all of us would like to see.

By Mengsteab Tesfayohannes, Ph.D.

The author is an Associate Professor of Management at the Sigmund Weis School of Business, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA, USA. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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