Small Businesses are the future of Africa. This sounds like a bold statement because when we think of small businesses or our family businesses, we think of our “tuck shops” and “Misika” and the “bottle stores” that we find across the sparse savannah. And the concept itself sounds like a laughable concept built on dreams.
However, closer inspection of this fact proves that it is these small and humble beginnings that have made the huge corporations that we know today. It is family businesses that have their foundations built on value systems, and the financial dreams of families (to be independent and build wealth for future generations) that have built nations.
In Africa, the dream of enterprise and entrepreneurship has been dashed, by what has been dubbed by many as “generational curses,” where family businesses seem to run to ground as soon as the founder passes on and the financial freedom of the family gets buried with the founder of the business. A staggering statistic shows that the majority of the world’s wealth is created by family-owned businesses. 85% of start-ups worldwide are established with family money (FFI Global Data Points). Estimates suggest that businesses that are majority-owned by a single family’s members contribute to 70-90 percent of the world’s GDP (Tharawat Magazine, Volume 22, p. 36)
New business is fueled by family involvement.And family business is within the category of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) globally, whether in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and the USA. However, some family businesses are large multinational corporations that operate in many countries such as Ford Motors and McDonald’s, which originates from the USA.
The survival rate of most African family businesses beyond the first generation is extremely low. It has been found that globally 33% of family businesses have survived past the first generation (the founder) onto subsequent generations. However, in Africa, only 2% of family businesses last past the first generation.
You may be wondering how this applies to you and your business. If you are a business owner, then you should be very concerned when you hear of such statistics. It means you may fall under the 98% of failed family businesses that are currently on the continent. Your company may be making money at this moment, but if you have not started planning for your SUCCESSion plan, then it is 98% guaranteed that your business will no longer exist once you exit that business, either by incapacitation, illness, retirement or death.
How so? Simply put; as a business owner, your responsibility is to start planning for the life of your business after your departure from that business. This further simplified means that you must see a future in your business where you are not managing it or involved in the day to day runnings of the business. Yes … After you. At some point in the life cycle of your business, you have to be outside the everyday running of the business, allowing it to grow independent. You have to make yourself useful as either a chairperson who oversees the vision or completely walk away and allow others to take the lead.
To most SME founders, this seems like impossibility, and indeed it is if you do not plan this properly and use the right tools to get to this momentous event.
A business is not its owner, and the two must be separated. The owner is similar to a doting parent who is nurturing their child to become independent. However, we have found that in the African business space, SME business owners have made their businesses extensions of themselves and their egos. Which, in turn, leaves the business unable to grow.
Some Red Flags that you should know about that are crippling your business may include:
- The lack of official operations manual for any of your business functions
- No set formula or method to your activities
- Your business Values, Vision, Mission are just words on your brochures but do not form part of the culture of your organization
- You have no Values, Vision, Mission
- You are the sole signatory to all accounts
- Only you know your major suppliers
- Only you know and handle your major customers
- If you are ill or traveling your business is closed, or certain functions cannot be done.
- You don’t trust any of your staff
- Your staff do not trust you
- Your family members who are part of your business are not qualified or trained (You are just helping them out)
- Your children or spouse are not involved in your business, and you are the only person who is interested in the business
- Your Company Directors are just family members who you put on the paperwork, but they know nothing about your business.
- You are not quite sure what your company structure means, and the various registration documents came standard with registration.
- You have a Will, and you believe this will protect your family and your business.
- You do not have any written plans for your business
- Your business and personal finances are the same
- Your business has no governance structure
At first glance, you may feel that you have already failed and that your business may never reach the heights reached by the huge corporates that you now see across the world. However, Africa has significant success stories similar to Econet, Pick and Pay, and Dangote. These businesses were started by families, and that started as small operations providing goods and services to their communities. But as they started envisioning the future of businesses, they also secured the futures of generations in their families. And with the right planning and direction, your family Business could be the next corporate giant. You are the person who will make this happen.
Over the next few weeks, we will unpack the SUCCESSion of small businesses and the steps that must be taken to secure this future. The first most crucial step you have made is to be in business.
Tsitsi Mutendi is a Family Business Expert specialising on Family Governance. She is the Founder, African Family Business Association, AFF – African Family Firms.
Visit: Tsitsi Mutendi
aYo Holdings, African micro-insurer breaks 10 million mark; eyes further growth
aYo Holdings CEO Marius Botha (Source: aYo)
African micro-insurance fintech aYo Holdings, a joint venture between telecommunications giant MTN and financial services group Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH), has broken through the 10 million customer mark in under four years after starting operations – and new CEO Marius Botha says the milestone is set to trigger a period of further growth.
aYo launched in Uganda in January 2017, and has since started operations in Ghana and Zambia with plans to expand into Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria in the new year. aYo provides fast, convenient, easy to use hospital and life cover directly to a user’s mobile phone, and has already paid in excess of $1 million in claims.
This rapid expansion has seen the company evolve into a major player in the African micro-insurance market, effectively by adopting a ‘pay as you go’ insurance model, where its policyholders have the flexibility that allows them to have the cover they need at any given time.
Botha says while there has always been a ‘definite demand’ from African consumers, the challenge was being able to find the right technology and mechanism to deliver what is essentially a high-volume, low-margin product, where not all clients are paying or active at any given time, but buy cover as and when they need it.
“The partnership with MTN has really been the key that unlocked the ability to deliver this product. As a result, millions of Africans have access to and are engaging with life insurance for the first time – and we cannot underestimate what this means to them in terms of driving financial inclusion,” said Botha.
While mobile networks provide the ideal delivery mechanism for the spread of micro-insurance across the continent, Botha says the company’s growth has also depended on understanding the nuances of each market, and creating products that cater for the specific needs of the target market.
“The big thing about micro-insurance is that it protects those who need it the most. People with low income need insurance even more than those with higher incomes, because they are more vulnerable and have a smaller cushion of resources to draw upon in times of need,” said Botha.
Many clients use the payouts from their aYo policies to not only pay for their hospital bills, but use the balance to buy food or schoolbooks, so they can send their children back to school. One client’s glasses were damaged in an accident, leaving him incapacitated and unable to work, as he is legally blind. His cover paid his hospital bill and allowed him to buy new glasses, which allowed him to continue providing for his family.
“There’s no doubt that the impact of micro-insurance is transformative, as it shields millions of Africans from the economic shocks that would otherwise keep them locked into an endless cycle of poverty,” said Botha.
Thabo Mashegoane Appointed As Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA)
The President and Board Chairperson of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), Thabo Mashegoane, has been elected as Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA).
Formerly the Vice-Chairman of AfICTA, he succeeds Engr. Hossam Elgamal from Egypt to become the third Chairman. AfICTA, a private sector-led alliance of ICT Associations, multinational corporations, companies, organisations and individuals in the ICT sector in Africa, aims to fulfil the promise of the digital age for everyone in Africa by encouraging dialogue and fostering ICT enabled development.
During an electronic election at the AfICTA Annual General Meeting on 25 November, Mashegoane was elected chair, while IITPSA Past President and Non-Executive Director Ulandi Exner was also elected AfICTA Vice-Chair for Southern Africa.
The election named the following board members and officers: Paul Rowney, Deputy Chair; Opeyemi Onifade, Treasurer; Dr. Waudo Siganga, Vice-Chair for East Africa; Engr. Assem Wahby, Vice-Chair, North Africa; Adetola Sogbesan, Vice-Chair, West Africa; and Eric Sindeu, Vice-Chair, Central Africa.
Thanking his predecessors for their service and leadership in the Alliance to date, Mashegoane noted that AfICTA was an organisation with a vast network, impact on critical policies, and reputation that took years and hard work to build. “Mine is to take the baton and continue where the honourable Engr. Hossam Elgamal has taken this organisation to. Of importance is the platform to enable African countries to collaborate and share best practices and lessons learnt with an objective of not leaving anyone behind in development. This is a vision we will continue to uphold. We stand in a critical position to influence attainment of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 through ICT.”
Speaking after the election, Mashegoane said digital inclusion and ICT-enabled development was also a key mission for the IITPSA in South Africa. “The IITPSA shares the vision and ethos of AfICTA. IITPSA has also stated that we need to step up efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, among other things, seeks to bridge the digital divide and harness technology to address major global challenges such as poverty, climate change and conflict, we need to work harder. At IITPSA, we believe this means we have to collaborate across industries, across countries, to deploy the benefits of ICTs for the good of all,” he said.
Baller Syndicate: Building Europe’s First Elite Athlete Angel Syndicate And Exploring Africa
Baller Syndate Founders – Koen Bosma (r) and Jason Esseboom (l) (Source: Baller Syndicate)
Baller Syndicate is an exclusive network of elite athletes that are looking to get into tech investing. An initiative by Koen Bosma and Jason Esseboom, two former athletes who were better at startups than playing football. They played together in a youth academy, and Koen even turned pro. The founders crossed paths again in the world of startups and innovation. Koen and Jason share a passion for sports, entrepreneurship, and investments. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, they talked about how they are positioning elite athletes to become successful tech investors, through their educational like-minded community and building bridges between Europe and Africa.
Over the past few years, they have worked with hundreds of startups and invested in 20+. Most of those startups are trying to break into the sports-, health-, and entertainment industry. During this time, Koen and Jason had the privilege of working closely with founders, which gave them great insights and a first-row seat to startups’ biggest pain point.
Startups in the sports-, health, and entertainment industries have a disproportionate mismatch with angels that can truly accelerate their journey, compared to startups in other industries.
When Koen and Jason looked closely, they spotted a trend in the USA of elite athletes making tech investments cool and accessible to the world. Athletes like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Serena Williams are building their own family offices, venture funds, becoming LP’s or making direct or syndicated angel investments. So they asked themselves the question: why is this not happening in the rest of the world?
This led to starting Baller Syndicate.
Alaba: So what does Baller Syndicate do?
Koen: Our vision is to unlock athletes’ capabilities as accelerators for the growth of startups. When we started having conversations with active-, and retired athletes about their post-career activities, we truly learned a lot. Simply mentioning the term “investment” to an athlete in Europe turns all signals to red and makes their alarm bells go off! We could hear them thinking: “are these guys trying to take my money!?.
The interesting thing, however, was that when we took the conversations a layer deeper, we learned athletes get approached for investment opportunities quite regularly, but always ‘through a guy.’ When athletes don’t fully understand the concept, the default is to rely on someone they trust.”
We learned that athletes “solve” their lack of knowledge about investment opportunities by putting their trust in a person they know well.
Baller Syndicate’s goal is to decrease the knowledge gap by educating athletes with understandable content. Education is liberation, and that’s how they will help athletes change the narrative!
Alaba: Tell me, how does your education work with the tight schedules athletes have?
Jason: Overall, our education consists of two parts. We noticed that there is so much good content out there, but navigating it can be challenging or even overwhelming. Our vision towards education is to aggregate the most relevant content and translate it into a language athletes understand. We don’t see ourselves as professors but as translators.
Our first approach is to make an online course with actionable and engaging videos. This is the theoretical part. For the second part, we interview athletes that are active as investors or entrepreneurs to provide valuable case studies. Providing the theory is necessary because if we’d just share case studies, athletes miss foundational knowledge. To make learning fun and engaging, we chose to explain investments through sports analogies, using stories all athletes can relate to. Everything we offer is online, so the athletes determine when and where they want to learn.
Of course, we dream of a big live event where we connect the worlds of startups and athlete investors, but that’s not happening in a world governed by a pandemic.
In our way of working, we are lean startup evangelists at our core. This means we start with something, test it, and adjust based on the feedback. We test our educational program with a small group of selected athletes and truly learn if our translations resonate with them. After testing, we know where we need to improve to move forward and help more athletes.
Regarding the content of our education, we have three principles:
- We skip jargon or break it down
- We logically structure content, tested by elite athletes
- We facilitate group learning through our community
We believe this structure puts athletes at an advantage to learn how they can make independent investment decisions.”
Alaba: How do you make money?
Koen: Right now, we don’t… We invest our time and money to make Baller Syndicate into something valuable for athletes and startups. The sportstech ecosystem really needs to grow, and we believe we need to give first and hopefully get something in return later. Baller Syndicate is our way of building the sportstech ecosystem. Our educational platform will run as a foundation, where athletes pay a small fee as a yearly contribution. Secondly, we are attracting corporate sponsors that have a similar vision as ours, to pitch in a bit.
Baller Syndicate operates as a typical angel syndicate for athletes who have learned they wish to go into tech investments. In a syndicate, athletes pool money and invest together in startups they select themselves. We facilitate athletes by finding the right startups and guiding athletes throughout investing in those startups.
Our business model is based on carried interest, which means we only make a buck when their athletes make profits. But we have some strict “rules” for our members to start with tech investments.
If the athletes don’t know how to activate an investment, there is just waste. So before any tech investment through the Baller Syndicate platform, we ask these five questions below:
- Does the startup have something special that fits the profile of our members?
- Can we add value beyond money (and the obvious Twitter post)?
- Are multiple athletes on board?
- Do the interested athletes know they need to create a balanced portfolio of startups and not ‘bet’ on 1 or 2?
- Is there a lead investor (in case of large investment rounds)?
There are many other factors to consider, but we ask these vital questions to help elite athletes de-risk their startup investments. Our goal for 2020 is simple: to build our educational content and test it with a selected group of 10 athletes. We are currently primarily working with footballers, but there are also professional golf- and tennis players.
Jason: Building this syndicate is as tough as it gets, but we are up for the challenge. We are motivated to the core to realize our big vision: unlocking athlete potential as accelerators for startups’ growth. We have started exploring athlete investing in Europe, and now we are eager to learn how athletes in other continents are approaching their new career after sports.
Through Baller Syndicate, we are building a diverse community of like-minded athletes. In our community, athletes are diverse in their sport, country, or background. They are alike when it comes to their ambition, mentality, and work ethic. Hopefully, this interview will open the doors for us to get in touch with African athletes and build bridges between Europe and Africa.
Visit Baller Syndicate
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