The African startup ecosystem is one of the most robust startup ecosystems in the world. There are over 500 high-profile startups in Africa that are meeting various needs of Africans, ranging from finance to healthcare, from e-commerce to agriculture and from housing to education. Several studies have shown that there is stiff competition in the African ecosystem and those who triumph are adopting state-of-the-art strategies to stay ahead. In this article, I highlight four skills you need to make your startup stand out within the African ecosystem.
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Having observed the African startup space for the past 3 years, I have discovered that leading startups have found a way of staying ahead by developing a company brand that stands out from their contemporaries.
The question of branding is more important today than ever before due to the proliferation of social media platforms in the past 15 years, making it a necessity for startups to develop a recognizable brand from the time they are first launched. For example, Selar has been able through diverse methods make its mark as a leading provider of e-commerce services to value providers. There are some elements to evaluate such as the name of the company, an extraordinary website address, a professionally-designed logo with appealing colours, social media pages, and a company email address.
Marketing becomes a lot simpler when an entrepreneur creates a distinction between a personal brand and a company brand. Since marketing involves communication and sales, the chances of finding an investor, a business partner, or a client increases if an entrepreneur has a good grasp of branding.
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To thrive in an African ecosystem, you need to develop your networking skills. Many startup founders tend to be transactional in the way they approach interactions in the business world. This is one of the main reasons why there are many conferences held in Africa but very few organizations that allow companies to petition the government to change or renew government policies. In Africa, startup founders and their leadership, especially those in the same industry, can gain momentum by pulling forces into a lobbying organization to influence government institutions and policies. In addition, the situation is made problematic because many ministries or agencies that should know entrepreneurs and startups in their area do not interact. Innovation in government policy is a continuous process in which entrepreneurs and government institutions regularly have to work together.
LinkedIn has been described as the de facto social network for entrepreneurs who want to position themselves as market leaders on a local level and gain international visibility, such as their contemporary startups abroad. For entrepreneurs living in Nigeria, storytelling and content are a must as it allows you to promote your brand’s story, vision, mission and philosophy.
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The emergence of entrepreneurship in Africa is a prominent phenomenon to welcome, recognize and celebrate. However, it is sensible to regularly assess whether the startup ecosystem in Africa is developing real and valuable expertise that entrepreneurs need to excel in the market. Otherwise, noise, hype, and self-sustainability will characterize the typical startup that will disappear from the scene after a few years because it fails to create value and provide a sustainable solution for consumers.
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This article was first published on 9th December 2022