What the Global Entrepreneurship Summit Means for Africa

Creative-Growth-800x542The financial analyst, Aly Khan Satchu, said that, “Kenya, and Nairobi in particular, is globally fluent, has 21st century connectivity and an impressive pool of human capital.” He’s right.

Previously, those words would describe a western city – but not anymore. He’s talking about Nairobi – a vibrant city in Africa – and that’s the new Africa. Nations like Kenya are a sample of the emerging trend on the continent.

Johnnie Carson and Mark Bellany, both former United States ambassadors to Kenya confirm that, “Kenya’s fast growing economy is based on a dynamic private sector, a diversified services sector and high education levels.”

What does this mean?

It means that after years of poverty, corruption, trial-and-error, African nations are finally finding blueprints that actually work and the results are evident.

Furthermore, just like the wild-fire of independence in the 1960s, this fire is going to spread. Nation after nation will eventually find what works despite their peculiar challenges.

The Global Entrepreneurial Summit is simply an official announcement to the world that Africa is ready to trade in ideas. The 21st century will experience an Africa that’s poised to do global business at any level.

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Why African Entrepreneurs Must Get It Right

WhyAfricaEntrepreneurship is a hot topic globally – and Africa is part of the action. That’s why the 6th Global Economic Summit (GES) in Kenya has the U.S. President, Barack Obama, involved. That said. What’s the role of the average African entrepreneur in all these?

One role is to: do good business that builds the community.

On the policy level, we expect key positive changes in the business environment due to the GES. But ultimately, the entrepreneur has to have the skill, scope and attitude required to maximize the benefits of policy.

In Africa, entrepreneurship has to go beyond money making because for Africans, the stakes are high. Now, doing business is about development, building prosperous communities and actually moving the continent forward!

The entrepreneur must realize that Africa’s socio-political and economic advancement depends on her business activities.

For too long, poverty, disease and wars have defined the African landscape – but that is changing. Young entrepreneurs in Africa must recognize this rare opportunity to rewrite the continent’s history and take full advantage of it.

In Africa, business is a development tool – and considering our history, we have to do it differently.

GES: Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya

GESNairobi is my city – and this week, the feverish excitement is palpable. Walking through the city center, you would see the distinct change in the atmosphere, unlike other days. Traffic is insane, even the media is going wild. It’s crazy!

Why? Two things!

First, the U.S. President, Barack Obama, is coming home. Here, it’s a big deal. So yes, the U.S. Security Services are taking no chances. They are everywhere. This week, I suspect that Nairobi will be the most secure spot on the planet.

Second, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is taking place in the East African hub. From the 24th-26th, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders will be playing in my city. The excitement is fun. I’m enjoying it.

However, when the dust settles and the hype ends and President Obama goes home with his crew – what does it all mean?

I’ll enjoy the party, by all means. But after the party, I’ll roll up my sleeves and get to work because history has proven that hype alone is unsustainable. When the rubber meets the road, only those who are truly prepared enjoy the goods. For now, let’s have fun!

Intel

Sweetgum Seed CapsuleTechnology has made warfare more sophisticated. Now, a nation at war is able to gather information on the enemy while thousands of miles away in order to determine strike targets. War is not blindly engaged. Intelligence is a vital part of war strategy.

For you, it’s no different. Do you have good intelligence or are you fighting blindly?

When you’ve recognized your fight and declared war, gathering relevant knowledge is the next step. Based on this, you’re able to plot a solid strategy.

So the cancer patient reads up all she needs to know on her ailment. What kind of cancer and its stages? Can it be cured? What are the options? How can the process be managed? Also, doctors are interviewed extensively…all aimed at being fully aware and mentally prepared for what’s ahead.

This is the stage where you come to terms with the brutal reality of what you’re dealing with. Denial won’t help. Burying your head in the sand won’t make the ‘hunter’ disappear.

Granted, you may break down a few times in the process, but it’s far better than staying in the dark.

Cocktail

cocktailBy age 30, it’s not unusual to find folks who have studied, lived and worked in at least three countries. Also, it’s easy to find organizations where the CEO is Turkish, the CFO American and the COO Kenyan. Diversity in the workplace cannot be ignored. In this case, how do you lead in a cultural mix?

Be Interested. Genuinely seek to add value to the lives of your team members without letting the cultural differences put you off. In certain work places, people keep contact at bare minimum due to racial or tribal differences. Not cool!

Anticipate Difference Views. It is wise to expect a difference in ideas, methods and beliefs in a multicultural work space. Expect it. This way you’re better equipped to absorb the culture shock. I wonder why people expect folks from different cultures to be just like them…beats me.

Agree on One Focus. A clear, shared vision is powerful enough to bring all kinds of people together. When the vision is clear, then there’s greater room for flexibility when it comes to methods. Despite the challenges, once folks agree, the effect is powerful.

Mountain Tricks

junky2I’ve heard folks compare cities and argue that people from one city are ‘slower’ than people from another. In that case, I proceed to ask a few questions about each city’s dynamics and try to reveal the fault lines in the ‘slow’ theory.

Every location has its wisdom based on many factors at play. The thinking required to thrive in Boston is different from the one required to succeed in Nairobi. The mix of history, commerce, traditions, ancestry, climate, etc…come together to affect the rhythm of any place. Hence, people develop mechanisms to adapt to each location.

This is clearly a debate.

My point: every place has a significant lesson to teach and an inherent advantage…its unique signature. The survival skills needed for the mountain is not the same for the valley.

As you wade through cultures and where they exist, it is important to keep an open mind. Expect it to be different from what you’ve always known. It’s near silly to expect the same experiences from Mombasa as you would from New York. Probably won’t happen.

#WestGate

kenyaflagNairobi is my city and the West Gate Mall terrorist attack has left us all in shock. We pray for the best as we deal with the complexities of the chaos that evil brings. Despite the pain, we will win this one.

As Kenyans, we understand that the human spirit is skilled at rising above any form of terror. We know that evil has never succeeded at permanently ending the joys of life.

Through this rubble of pain, we will yet again confirm the consistency of love, courage and peace. Together we will establish the idea of oneness that ridicules the effort of those who trade in fear.

To everyone who lost loved ones and friends or affected in anyway, to the beautiful people of Kenya, I pray that the force of peace rebuilds and restores everything that has been lost. #WeAreOne

God bless Kenya!