Guest Post by: Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
An entrepreneur is generally described as a dynamic person who is willing to take risks to exploit existing business opportunities or one who creates new opportunities. I believe this is an individual who sees much further than others see and also who sees before others see. Simply put, an entrepreneur is able to capture details that tend to elude others.
Many businesses especially in Africa and other developing countries are established not to exploit business opportunities, but rather as a need to survive. Historically, women operated businesses as a way of providing basic necessities for their families or as a way to supplement their income. At the time these ventures were not necessarily regarded as entrepreneurial.
Many women in African communities are self employed and involved in the informal sector.
These are usually business ventures that operate on a small scale involving simple activities such as baking fat cakes, food and vegetable stalls, braiding hair or selling clothes. This solo-entrepreneurial trend has existed in Africa for many years. In fact, this is how my own grandmother was able to feed and educate her children.
"... it is possible to move from an informal business to dominating your industry sector. However, this requires a total mind shift, resilience and commitment on your part."
In essence, Africa’s women entrepreneurial ventures continue to make strong contributions to the economic well-being of their families and communities, whether out of necessity or not. The underlying motivation for starting the informal business should not matter as much to the functioning or growth of the business.
So, is it possible to grow from being a necessity entrepreneur to an opportunity entrepreneur?
Absolutely! Let’s consider women who did it…
During the great depression and World War 2, many women started their own businesses in order to survive those hard times. Hattie Moseley-Austin began selling fried chicken and biscuits after her husband died as a means of supporting her family and later opened a Hatties Chicken shack in Saratoga Springs in 1938, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2013. In 1946, a year after the war ended, Estee Lauder launched her beauty products which we are still using to date. One of my favourite entrepreneurs and civil rights activists, Madam C.J Walker, from her rough beginnings as an orphan went on to dominate the market in black women’s hair care, ultimately becoming the first self-made female millionaire.
All these women started businesses under different circumstances but ended up with successful and scalable businesses that contributed to economic growth, and the development and employment of many women. They all demonstrate that it is possible to move from an informal business to dominating your industry sector. However, this requires a total mind shift, resilience and commitment on your part.
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn