Africa Entrepreneurs – Don’t Play Small !

Africa Entrepreneurs – Don’t Play Small !

Since switching from international development for Africa to entrepreneurship, I learned a very valuable lesson. Maybe the most valuable of all: Success is a mindset and attitude.

Now, what is absolutely crucial in my view: You need to learn, understand, and ultimately know what exactly that means. Unfortunately, the majority of us do not have a success mindset or the right thought patterns in place. And to repeat ‘I wanna be rich’ 10 times a day will not get you far. Most of us did not have role models in our family or community who taught us how to reach for the stars. No one taught us how to strive for financial independence or personal fulfillment even if that meant to break down old barriers.

We are usually inhibited by many of such barriers: cultural doctrines, certain family values, lack of self-esteem, negative thinking, unhealthy relationships, or the conviction that modesty is a virtue.

If you want to become successful in Africa, but above all, if you want to lead a grand and fulfilled lifestyle you need to get rid of all that and set yourself free. You need to learn new habits, new thought patterns, a new attitude and develop that consciously and actively each day…..until it becomes your new nature.

In order to know how exactly to do that, you need to start reading books or information online compiled by those who have already achieved incredible success – anywhere in the world. If you are not much of a reader: watch all the YouTube videos there are or order some of the audios and DVDs and listen to them when you drive to work. There is so much information out there these days made available by renowned motivational leaders who will introduce you to life lessons and success rules that our parents and teachers were never able to teach us. If this kind of stuff is new to you, allow me to drop a few names: Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Brendon Burchard, Jeff Walker, Jim Rohn, Richard Branson you name them. Read the content they share with us, watch them, get addicted to their lessons, and learn how to put it all into practice. I have done so for the last 1-2 years and if you are ready to break out of your box and get more out of life – I promise you, it will turn your world around and you will start seeing things you never saw before. But you have to be willing to invest the time and patience into yourself

Africa entrepreneur and business owners: Don’t Play Small !

So next time you are visualizing your Africa business plans in your head, you draw a chart, or you plan your next step…

Don’t plan to set up a little tomato farm in Tanzania – instead plan to become the top producer of canned tomato in the country or the region.

Don’t aim for a corner shop selling some of your own clothing designs in Senegal – instead aim to become a leading fashion brand featuring your line from Africa to Paris to London.

Don’t think of opening a beauty salon in Nigeria, but strive to open a well-branded chain of salons across the country marketing your own skin care line.

It may sound unachievable, but it is that mindset of having a grand vision that will provide you with a grand outcome. Playing it safe, modest, and small will usually keep you there.


Because your action aligns with what you think and feel. First there is the thought and the internalization of something, then action follows. Always in that order.

So how do you get from where you are right now to achieving big dreams?

By starting small….but dreaming and aiming big. And that is the tough part. Your inner will, your vision and perseverance need to be so strong that you are prepared to go through all the obstacles of a small start, but you never lose the bigger picture of where you are going.

Don’t worry about the how, stop calculating.

Instead know WHAT you want. Dream big. Make the first small step towards that. And another step….and you will find your way.

There is no better place than Africa for dreaming big right now and going for it. Because there is so much space….in fact, Africa needs big visions more than ever. The environment is enabling for big dreamers and go getters. So go n’ get it !

Here are a couple of stories of successful African Entrepreneurs who started with less than $100 not too long ago….taking a first small step……and today they lead very profitable businesses.

Grace Amey-Obeng – Forever Clair (Ghana)

African business Forever clair

Well, Grace’s story is not one of the new upcoming success stories in Africa as she started her business in 1998, but her journey is still regularly featured in the media and proves the very point I want to make with this post. Grace started her business with $100 selling beauty products that reverse the damages of skin bleaching creams and creating the ones that promotes the African woman’s natural beauty. She would go door to door teaching women how to care for their skin and share her beauty secrets. Today the business has eight branches across Ghana including clinics, her very own cosmetics and skincare range and a beauty college run by over 95 employees. Grace exports her products to Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Switzerland and the UK and her business has become very profitable. VERY profitable: Forever Clair has an annual turnover of $8 to 10 million. Yep, here you go……from $100 to $10,000,000

Watch her video on one of the blog posts of my dear colleague who runs Africa’s Thanks John-Paul for the hint!


Andrew Mupuya – YELI (Uganda)

AFrican paper bag business

Andrew was only 16 when he came up with the idea to manufacture paper bags in Uganda in 20018 after the government was considering banning the use of plastic bags. Andrew saw an opportunity for an environmentally friendly paper bag business and put together all the money he had at the time: it amounted to just $18 Dollars. Yes, you heard it right, $18 Dollars to start his business. To make a short story even shorter:

YELI is today Uganda’s only paper bag and envelope producing company supplying now 83 clients- among them hospitals and other businesses – in the country producing 22,000 paper bags a week. Andrew Mupuya has also diversified his business by manufacturing gift bags, which is a great niche for Africa. He may not be a millionaire yet, but Andrew today employs 20 people, he was featured in many African business media outlets, and has big plans to raise capital in a quest to become the biggest paper manufacturing company in the region.

Another wonderful example how to start small and think big!

Where have you reached in your life and business journey? Are you satisfied? Do you know where you are going and what exactly it is you want to achieve? If not, maybe it is time to seriously ask yourself that question. Again: While planning your business you also need to invest into yourself….nothing will increase the potential for a successful life and venture more than that. Learn from the great entrepreneurs and teachers who make their valuable lessons available to us. Start a new path. Break free from the old that has not worked so far, so you can make space for the new. There is someone great in you. Bring that person out! It’s time to believe in yourself outside of the box. And only you are in charge of doing so.

I would love to hear your thoughts, please share them in the comment section below. Leaving you today with Mandela’s words – one of my favorite quotes:




And still. Let’s be defined what dosage in this case approaches most of all. There can be it cialis 20mg or something another. To me I think it isn’t necessary to choose for you necessary. Think. Perhaps suits you cialis 20 mg It is much better.

Dr. Harnet
Dr. Harnet Bokrezion is the Founder of and co-author of the book '101 Ways to Make Money in Africa'. She coaches individuals and consults existing companies assisting them to make smart and strategic business decisions in Africa’s new emerging markets faster and more confidently. Dr. Harnet also regularly writes for the renowned DHL powered publication Get in touch to inquire how she can be of assistance to your own Africa business endeavors:

User Comments ( 6 )

  • Hello Harnet,

    A very inspiring article, I must say. I love the way you captured the real reasons why many Africans are holding back on their life’s potential:

    “cultural doctrines, certain family values, lack of self-esteem, negative thinking, unhealthy relationships, or the conviction that modesty is a virtue.”

    I continue to notice a pattern of blame and finger pointing with many Africans. We like to blame the rich, the government and ‘evil forces” for our every day troubles and challenges. On the other hand, more rising entrepreneurs are coming up with innovations that solve these problems and are achieving tremendous business success as a result.

    You’re very right when you say: “Success is a mindset”. It’s very true. While some people see problems, entrepreneurs see opportunities. While others toss blames around, entrepreneurs keep fine-tuning their interesting ideas.

    We need to stop complaining and start thinking!

    Nice one Harnet!

  • Dr. Harnet

    Thanks for stopping by, John-Paul!
    Yes, I agree, the time has come where we need to help turning Africa’s and our own fortunes around ourselves. No-one will do it for you. It can be difficult to make that psychological transformation but it can be done!
    Thanks for enriching the article with your thoughts!

  • When I was 13 my father gave me “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I hated the book. It was boring, nobody got killed, there was no romance but I still quote excerpts from that book today at 50. The mind is what limits how far we can go. If you can think it you can do it.
    Thank you Harnet.

  • Dr. Harnet

    Love your comment, Christopher. I plan to read the book to my children when they are 10 🙂
    The statement ‘ If you can think it you can do it’ is a powerful one. In fact I recently listened to a video by….I think it was Eckart Tolle…..where he said that everything that has ever been built or made in this world has existed twice. Once in someone’s mind and then as matter/substance.

  • Innocent Ntakiyiruta

    Thanks Dr Janet
    It’s a very great post because in the minds of many people I can say that we are paralysed by what we know already in family or neighborhood;no example of business to follow or what people say about business’s people! But I hope with people like you we will make it even though the path seems to be hard and long.
    Continue to inspire

    • Dr. Harnet

      Thanks for your kind feedback! I agree, and that mean that many of us do not just have no-one to follow, but we are not even AWARE of these more prosperous avenues we could take like those who are already successful.