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Africa: Blogging business, investment, and entrepreneurship

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Development, Economics & Business

In our first post on Africa's business bloggers we introduced you to the Africa bloggers focusing on business [1]. In this second post, we are only going to focus on a few blogs.

Apart writing about fashion and entertainment, J Kofi Annan explores such general business topics as corporate exectutives and business founders in Africa in his blog, Annansi Chronicles [2].

One of his recent post is “African billionaires on Forbes’ 2006 list [3].” This post is about Africa's business persons who made the Forbes 2006 list of billionaires [4](entry onto the list required assets of at least $1 billion). Before reading his post, I only knew of about three African billionaires who got there through business- Aliko Dangote [5] of Nigeria and Kase Lawal [6] also of Nigeria and Al Almoudi of Saudi Arabia ( the world's richest black person est. at $ 8 bil.), by way of Ethiopia.

Kofi's post shows that although business people in Africa often face some very unique and daunting challenges, it is still quite possible to achieve business success beyond measure as an entrepreneur in Africa. Here's what Mr. Annan writes [3]:

…Forbes Magazine has released their annual ranking of the world's richest people. The listings include rank, name, home country or state, age where known, wealth in billions of dollars and source of the money. The research that went into compiling the rankings began in early 2006 and ended on Feb. 9, 2007. The list shows how the U.S. is slipping, the Russians are rising, and keeping business within the family is great way to maintain wealth. I've listed the rank, name, country of citizenship, age, net worth ($bil), and industry of the Africans who made the list below. If anyone has anyone of these people in their Rolodex hook me up. I hope to see some of you on the list in the future.

African's who made the list:
#62, Naguib Sawiris, Egypt, 52, $10.0, Egypt, Communications (Telecom)
#158 Onsi Sawiris, Egypt, 77, $5.0, Construction
#158 Nicky Oppenheimer & family, South Africa, 61, $5.0, Mining/Lumber (DeBeers)
#194 Johann Rupert & family, South Africa, 56, $4.3, Retailing (Luxury goods)
#226 Nassef Sawiris, Egypt, NA, $3.9, Engineering/Construction
#432 Donald Gordon, South Africa, 76, $2.2, Insurance
#664 Samih Sawiris, Egypt, 50 , $1.5, Service (Hotels)…”

His other recent post “Minding my business [7]” is equally interesting as it shows the growing spirit of entrepreneurship among Africans. The title immediately reminded me of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad [8]” by Robert Kiyosaki [9]. Kiyosaki advocates business ownership as a necessary step towards financial freedom.

Kofi writes about his own clothing and fashion business, Annansi Clothing [10]. What makes this particular post interesting is that Mr. Annan actually goes into what it takes to be a successful fashion designer and then he ends the discussion by pointing out the relevance of African entrepreneurs:

“…I tell you, running your own clothing company is not as easy as it seems, and doing it all myself is definitely not the best way to proceed, that's why I've resolved to get a team of interns. Over the years I've seen many designers get eaten up by the grind of running a clothing label by themselves, and I certainly don't want to be a statistic. I think more than creating designs, and connecting with the many people who “get” the direction I'm trying to go in, many creative people neglect the business aspect. We are usually drawn to the fashion industry because of the “lights, camera, action” image of it, but the industry is highly complex and it takes a lot more than talent to grow in it. So while I love reading and writing about the goings on in the progressive African community, I think it is equally important to play an active role, and to do so my business must be intact. I never want to be that person who complains and criticizes others’ decisions without going through the process myself. And nothing shapes your perception more than walking in someone's shoe's to understand the reason they make certain decisions. Of course this speaks directly to outsiders’ criticism of Africans and African business as well…”

Another blog that I would like to introduce to you comes from Uganda, by way of Denmark. This is a group blog called the Millenium Development Goals [11].

I wrote about C4-World recently [12]:

C4-world is building an online platform; MyC4, which will allow companies across Africa to source loans and equity investments from the global community…
The platform will allow people from around the world who create online funded investment accounts to participate in auctions (they will bid an amount and the interest rate they wish to earn) to fund the loan requests posted by the entrepreneurs and SMEs.

In his post, A day to celebrate! [13], Tim Vang describes the reactions coming from various companies and company spokespersons in Denmark, who attended a C4-World African investment workshop for the dual purposes of earnings and helping to end poverty in Africa.

He writes:

“…Around 150-200 people attended the workshop and I was lucky to be one of the speakers. At the end of my introduction to MyC4 the organizer, Karina Hviid handed over the VERY FIRST MyC4-builder downpayment worth 15 x DKK 1,000 (approximately USD 2,500) – each of the 15 companies will have their own MyC4 account from May.None of the companies are doing any business with Africa, TODAY. Yet they are open to learn and also agree that poverty should have an END…”

We will finish this week's roundup with a South African business blog, Viva Startups [14]. Viva Startups has a post about the rise of franchises in South Africa [15]:

It seems that more people are choosing the franchise option when starting out in business than ever before. With statistics showing a 49% rise in the number of franchises available over the last two years, it is evident that the promise of a proven low cost model for creating the business of your dreams is an attractive one.

Correction: In my first post [1] I said that Money Talk [16] was authored by Tosin. Money Talk is a group blog and Tosin is the administrator of the blog.

Otherwise, I hope that you enjoyed this week's roundup and we are anxious to know your thoughts. The world is listening.