It’s time South African entrepreneurs said yes to the African Dream

Posted on August 11th, 2014
Grow Thought Leaders Thought Leaders

It's time South African entrepreneurs said yes to the African Dream

I am now at a place in my entrepreneurial journey, where I only attend events that speak to my highest priorities. I was recently invited to a workshop where the topic centred on growing great African brands. Now this is a subject that gets me very stimulated and affirms what I projected for my businesses ten years ago.

For a while people, especially my family, would look at me as if I’m a crazy woman for venturing into other African countries to expand Afrofusion on my own steam. I would always get the “Wow, you are brave!” response. I found it patronising since I felt everyone should be doing it. I believe the African Dream is not preserved for the elite or for the likes of Shoprite alone – no. Every entrepreneur should factor in their continental expansion programme be it now or in five years, it must be part of your growth plan.

“If you started your business because you saw so-and-so do it, you have no business being in business”

African agility

The workshop got me tossing and turning at night about my road map to building a great global brand. We have to start by fully understanding why we do what we do. When we fundamentally understand why we have a place in the world, we recruit employees who share this vision without having to shove it down their throats.

We attract clients who are drawn to our ‘why’ and there’s an authentic fit. Our country, our continent has a buffet of challenges that can only be solved by us, who experience the impact of these challenges daily. Our why, our agility is the only force that will turn things around. If you started your business because you saw so-and-so do it, you have no business being in business.

Learning from international brands

The next breed of African businesses must adopt a South Korean attitude. Look at what they have done with Samsung and Hyundai. I might be all about the Apple ecosystem but I truly applaud what these guys have consistently done with these brands to ensure they play on a global stage. We must ensure we add a significant budget to research and development so our unique African products evolve and become increasingly better universal brands.

“The world doesn’t care about the colour of your skin or your gender, they want to know what makes you different”

Being black, women-owned means nothing

We do not build agile African brands based on the colour of our skin or because we are women, we create long-lasting, impactful businesses by solving problems for ordinary South Africans, by creating products we can export to the continent and to the world.

If you are running your business because you are black and a woman, you are in serious trouble because the rest of the world doesn’t care about the colour of your skin or your gender, they want to know what makes you different. Your ‘why’ needs to speak to their why. BBBEE is a meaningful tool that ensures we all play by the book but it’s a box you tick like SARS and any other compliance in your industry. It is NOT a unique value proposition.

About the author: Antoinette Prophy is an entrepreneur by DNA. Passionate Afro-Optimist. Golfer. Realist. Always enjoy a good laugh. Love a good book. Antoinette is also the founder of Afrofusion Advertising. Follow her on Twitter at @AntoProphy.

Read Also: Will SA Entrepreneurship Ever Go Beyond the Dream?