"It's better to be a lioness for a day than a sheep all your life!"
The Edit is the blog of LoA founder and editor-in-chief, Melanie Hawken. Featuring opinion, commentary and analysis on a wide range of topics of interest to today’s women entrepreneurs on the African continent. It’s your daily must-read for relevant, thought-provoking entrepreneur news, with the occasional irreverent moment thrown in for good measure.
Markets may change, business models may be tweaked, but the one consistent factor in business is the need to maintain a laser focus on the things that are important to you and the future success of your business and brand. That laser focus also extends to keeping a watchful eye on developments and opportunities in the markets in which youoperate, constantly talking to current and potential customers about their needs, and being ready to respond with products and solutions that can fill a gap. A laser focus also means doing the basics right, day in day out, whilst at the same time staying connected with everyone who is part of your value chain, from your employees to your suppliers. After all, a company is only as good as its weakest link, so ensuring that everyone who is a part of your entrepreneurial journey is fully committed to the brand and the business goals, and understands their part in the company’s future success, is critical. So, no matter how many other things may have to change and pivot as your business grows, one thing that needs to remain consistent is your laser focus on the things that matter.
How many times do you hear people talking about all their ideas for new businesses, new projects, new innovations? As the old saying goes, ”Ideas are a dime a dozen," but the real trick is taking that idea and turning it into something tangible and viable. It’s all about execution, and that’s where the hard work comes in. What separates entrepreneurs and innovators from those who simply talk about ideas they have is that they take action. They know that an idea without execution remains simply that—an idea, a paper exercise or a passing thought. For most people that is where the thought process begins and ends. What makes the difference is that entrepreneurs are those that go the extra mile, they look at what it takes to turn that idea into a product, or a business, or a solution to a key challenge - they execute, one step at a time. They don’t allow themselves to get bogged down by focusing too much on the big picture in the early days of the process, they simply build that idea one practical block at a time until it becomes something tangible. It’s all about the execution and that’s what matters.
Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a professional sportsperson in many ways. If you want to run a successful business, it’s essential to understand the mental, psychological and behavioral characteristics that are the key building blocks for success. It starts with having a positive mental attitude. The indomitable US entrepreneur and retail brand building legend, Debbi Fields, Founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, said: “The one thing that I think is critical in the entrepreneurial spirit is that it’s all attitude. If you think you can, then you’re half way there. If you say, ‘I can’t,’ then you’re defeated.” Its hard to be a successful entrepreneur without a positive attitude because you are certain to experience difficult times along your business journey and your success or failure will be determined at these times. So there are a couple of key questions to ask yourself when starting out in business to test your positive attitude. Firstly, are you confident you can build a successful business, even when things might not go according to the original plan or take far longer than you could have thought possible? Secondly, do you feel good about your chances for success as an entrepreneur despite all the challenges that life might throw at you? If you can positively answer yes to both of these questions, then as Debbi Fields says: “You’re half way there.” It’s all about starting with a positive mental attitude.
As entrepreneurs we get excited when we create a new product or service that we think is revolutionary or will take our customers by storm. But the thing to remember is that the most powerful way to reach and connect those customers to our new offerings is to tap into their real needs, their challenges that need solutions, their business pain points that need new ways of doing things. It’s about creating an opportunity to add real value to their personal or business journeys. Often the best way of making this connection with customers is to create a real and meaningful experience with your product or service, to get them to feel what their lives would be like and how they could be improved by using that product or service. It’s why homeware and furniture designers create stylized room sets that hint at a lifestyle to come with the purchase of a new table or crockery set; or why computer software or hardware designers create and market solutions that are geared towards lifestyle (think IPod, Apple Watch, fitness wristbands etc) and create customer experiences to connect aspirational lifestyle to product. So, when launching and marketing your new product or service, ask yourself the question ‘are you giving your identified customer an experience as well as a solution?’
We have all heard the saying “Courage is having the heart and roar of a lion” - but for women entrepreneurs, courage comes in different forms and not necessarily with the same amount of noise. If you watch a lioness on the plains of Africa, she is quietly confident, always watching and monitoring what is happening around her, choosing her moments to hunt and strike, and her moments to nurture and inspire, having the courage to deal with adversity. It is the same with women entrepreneurs on the continent - there are often many challenges to overcome when creating businesses, or trying to break into tough markets, or dealing with entrenched attitudes towards women in society and business. Yet what is inspirational is how Africa’s women entrepreneurs demonstrate courage and a confidence each and every day - as they build their companies, create their products and service offerings, launch their brands, and find ways to positively impact society through their social entrepreneurship solutions to major challenges. Women entrepreneurs here in Africa understand that courage is not the absence of fear on our business building journeys - rather it is feeling fear, facing it, and doing it anyway.
How many times as entrepreneurs do we know what our big dream or goal to be reached is, and we think we know what needs to be done to get there, but we just don’t do it regularly enough to make it happen - we are not consistent? We get caught up with the day-to-day challenges, stresses and strains of running our businesses that we forget the big picture. Yet, if we look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs and their businesses, consistency is what leads to success. They get the basic things right with the running of their businesses, but they also remain open to ideas and opportunities, and importantly, remain focused on the end goal and how they are going to get there. Ultimately, what makes the difference is that they are consistent in taking the dream and making it a reality, whilst doing the basics right day in, day out. Something we all need to think about as entrepreneurs as we chase our dreams.
You know what they say - in life, you start to turn into the people you spend most time with. In the world of entrepreneurship, the same is true. The fact is that if you surround yourself with family, friends and networks of people who are not entrepreneurs and who don’t intrinsically understand what it is like to build a business and a brand, then you are not doing yourself any favours. All too often, the people who are closest to us are simply not objective because they love and care for us and want us to succeed, but they don’t tell it like it is. Sometimes, we need a big dose of reality from people who are truly objective, who understand risk and reward, who have an entrepreneurial mindset, and can give us the sort of feedback that we need to grow and thrive in business. So, this morning, take a step back, look at the people who are closest to you on your entrepreneurial journey and ask yourself if they have the entrepreneurial mindset and experience that will inspire and practically help you as you look to achieve your own business dreams.
It’s estimated that the export of goods produced in Africa for intra-regional consumption makes up a minuscule 10% of all African exports. The sad thing is that Africa still imports almost everything, from food and fashion to cars and electronics. It appears that despite having a wealth of natural resources and human talent on the continent, trade deficits continue to widen. Visit most African countries and the trend leans towards consumers purchasing imported goods and brands by choice, rather than making conscious decisions to buy locally made and sourced goods that support the economic development of the continent. Going forward, it makes sense for entrepreneurs from across the African continent to lead a new charge, building globally relevant brands and businesses that produce goods of world-class quality and relevance that local consumers want to buy, and that have a brand cachet equal to their imported counterparts. We as a powerful collective of consumers on the African continent need to realize that if we support proudly locally made and sourced goods, then we are putting money directly back into our local economy. Not only that, we are supporting the growth and development of a strong entrepreneurial culture, one that is capable of driving a new and sustainable economy in each African country, and opening up market opportunities for the exchange of locally made goods cross border. That is how Africa can thrive and develop to its full potential.
Innovation and women’s entrepreneurship is a hot topic on the African continent right now, and the latest edition of the AppsAfrica.com Innovation Awards 2016 which has just taken place in Cape Town, South Africa, proves that. The Awards celebrated the best in mobile and technology from across Africa, attracting over 200 entries from 25 countries, with the winners on the night hailing from South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Two women entrepreneurs from the African continent were recognized at the event as award winners:
- Ruth Nabembezi, founder of Ask Without Shame, Uganda, won the Social Impact Award.
- Faraja Nyalandu, founder of Shule Direct, Tanzania, won the Women in Tech Award.
Andrew Fassnidge founder of appsafrica.com, said: “Our goal at Appsafrica.com is to promote and honour the fantastic innovation across the mobile and tech ecosystem in Africa. We had diverse entries from 25 countries and both the finalists and winners are a testament to how technology is being used to disrupt business models, empower people and drive positive social impact across the continent.”
The awards party in Cape Town was a great evening of celebration and networking bringing together over 300 mobile and tech leaders, media, investors and innovators from across Africa. Congratulations to all of the 2016 winners and particularly our Lionesses of Africa, Ruth Nabembezi and Faraja Nyalandu.
Access to new markets and funding are the biggest barriers to developing or taking female-owned businesses to the next level, according to a South African Entrepreneurship survey by Standard Bank. Jobs and growth in Africa will be dependent on innovation and entrepreneurship, but the survey of 130 South African female entrepreneurs found that most women are still pressured to pursue a traditional career. Yet, if they do, they are then pressured to be the “perfect business woman and homemaker”. According to the survey, which was conducted in October to coincide with the inaugural Lionesses of Africa Annual Conference in Johannesburg, female entrepreneurs are seeking more resources (31%), support (24%) and networking (22%). Interestingly, infrastructure, training and technology were not seen as barriers by this group of women entrepreneurs, but this may be attributed to the sizes of their businesses. Almost all of the respondents had relatively small to medium-sized businesses with less than 20 employees (95%), and of those surveyed 44% had children (40% married with children, while 38% were single with no children and 6% single with children). The Standard Bank survey found that being a female entrepreneur takes courage, with those who have fear choosing to overcome it. In the survey, 82% of the respondents agreed that they are “fearless” when it comes to being female entrepreneurs in Africa - and they are fearless because the fear of not succeeding is greater than that of not acting. The specific challenges highlighted in the survey need to be addressed as we build the businesses of the future that will take Africa and female entrepreneurs forward. To read the overview of the survey results here.
You know that feeling as a startup, when you are prepared to accept any business that is on offer, regardless of whether it is the right type of client or the right type of project. The immediate reaction is to say “if it pays, then it’s good business”. But the fact is, not all business really is good business. The important questions have to be asked - if I accept this business opportunity, is it going to move my company forward, is it going to be a good use of my time, is it going to take my eye off the real ball, are these clients I want to work with or are they going to be a real headache and end up hurting my business and brand? This was a topic being discussed on the sidelines of the Lioness Lean In Breakfast event in Cape Town yesterday and it made for really interesting conversation. Many of the women startups chatted about how when times are tough, you take any business on offer, but often there is a negative impact that comes with not being discerning and there can be fall-out further down the line for not choosing projects and clients carefully. Learning the art of accepting that not all business is good business, and that it’s okay to say no to the business you don’t want may seem counterintuitive to an entrepreneur. But it’s important to focus, keep your eye on the main purpose and goals of the business, and choose clients and projects that will help to grow your business and brand in line with your vision.
At Lionesses of Africa, we often hear aspirant women entrepreneurs talking about their ideas for starting a new business. But at the same time, we also hear them sharing their fears about taking the leap of faith to turn those ideas into reality. Often they hesitate to make that leap, thinking that perhaps the time is not perfect, or the market conditions not optimal. The fact is that it’s often more a case of fear taking over, controlling the decision-making process, and creating doubt and crises of confidence. The reality is that fear does indeed have a place in our lives, but we must never let fear shape our destinies. Instead, taking the leap towards becoming an entrepreneur requires courage, faith, huge amounts of passion, tenacity, and above all, confidence. If you wait for the ‘so called’ perfect moment, the chances are it will never come, or someone else with a similar idea to yours will beat you to the post. So what are you waiting for? Summon up your courage, push your fears to the side, do your homework, and take the plunge. Your entrepreneurial journey starts now.
By now you will probably have heard that this has been declared the Decade of the African Woman Entrepreneur. What makes it important is that women across the continent are becoming empowered to launch and build sustainable companies capable of producing the products and services that women actually want in their day to day lives. Instead of simply being passive consumers, tenacious women entrepreneurs in Africa are listening to other women, designing and manufacturing products that can positively change lives. Not only that, these women groundbreakers are tapping into an increasingly connected continent and a millennial generation that understands the power of taking products and services viral. Africa is a continent that is changing and women are at the forefront of driving that change because they are powerful consumers, not simply a niche market to pay lip service to. Women control household spending, education spending, clothing and medical care spending, to name but a few. They have a say in the types of products and services they need, and women entrepreneurs are listening to that voice and providing the solutions. So who knows, maybe the next innovative globally important consumer brand focused on women will emerge from Africa? There has never been a better time than now.
We all start off on our entrepreneurial journeys with one business idea in mind and we throw everything we have at trying to make it work, often with varying degrees of success. The important thing to realize is that will very likely take more than one idea to achieve that success and not to get too bogged down with desperately trying to make a single idea work. It’s through this learning curve that we grow as entrepreneurs - see it almost like an apprenticeship in the early years of your business building journey. Be open to new ideas, new inspirations, and learn from each of them - it’s how we grow after all. If one particular idea doesn’t work, the lesson is not to see it as failure, its just part of the apprenticeship. Take the learnings from each experience and apply them to the next business idea you have - it could be the winning one.
How often do we hear global marketing and PR campaigns that promote goods that are proudly made in a particular country, ie. Made in Britain, Made in Italy, etc? These campaigns celebrate the entrepreneurs that are creating world-class products and building globally relevant brands, but which are proudly made in their home countries by local craftspeople. Here in Africa, we have so much to showcase to the world in terms of proudly African brands and products, particularly those designed, crafted, and manufactured by talented women entrepreneurs from across the continent. We need to do more to celebrate and put 'Women Made in Africa' products on the global map, to get the world talking about the women entrepreneurs behind these world-class brands, and importantly buying these unique and beautifully made things that reflect the best in contemporary and traditional design from the continent. So, this month let’s proudly support ‘Women Made in Africa’ design, creativity, craftsmanship, and the new and exciting brands that are emerging to set the world alight.
New research from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) confirms that informal entrepreneur communities are instrumental to start-up success in those cities that are known for their nurturing of innovation. “Start-up ecosystems” are beginning to gain traction across Africa where entrepreneurs help other entrepreneurs in both informal and formal networks; and where business incubators and accelerators provide practical guidance and assistance to startups, as well as inspirational spaces in which to operate (the Standard Bank Business Incubators in key cities across South Africa are a great example of this). Successful start-up ecosystems are there to help turn entrepreneurial ideas into reality, to harness the energy and talent of bright new innovators to create tomorrow’s great businesses, and to help these new young businesses to access market opportunities, finance, and other specialist support. It’s often challenging for entrepreneurs just starting out on their business journeys - they don’t know who best to get advice from, how to market themselves and their businesses, where to connect with specialist service providers, or how to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs. This is where these informal entrepreneur communities provide a valuable and creative lifeline that is so instrumental to success.
The 2017 Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, which measures the quality and dynamics of entrepreneurship ecosystems around the world, has just been published by The GEDI Institute. It reveals some interesting data for Sub-Saharan Africa, the second largest continent by area and the largest if measured by number of countries, and includes some of the least developed countries which is reflected in the countries’ global GEI rankings and GEI scores. This new GEI indicates there is significant work still to be done to improve the foundations for entrepreneurship across the region. The leading country in this region according to the Index data, Botswana, achieves a GEI score of 34.4, which ranks it 52nd among the 137 countries analyzed in the global GEI ranking. Botswana has an Attitudes score almost 50% higher than its other scores. This is a much larger difference than average, and is also visible in Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Mauritania. Other countries in the region score highest in Abilities including Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, and Burundi. Finally, some countries score highest in Aspirations including South Africa, Gabon, Swaziland, Kenya, Angola and Chad. West Africa’s profile shows bright spots in Opportunity Perception, Networking, and High Growth.
GEI Ranking of the Sub-Saharan African Countries
Botswana (52), South Africa (55), Namibia (60), Gabon (75), Ghana (86), Swaziland (88), Zambia (96), Nigeria (100), Senegal (102), Rwanda (103), Kenya (107), Ethiopia (109), Côte d’Ivoire (112), Gambia (115), Cameroon (116), Tanzania (118), Mali (119), Liberia (121), Mozambique (123), Madagascar (124), Angola (125), Uganda (126), Benin (127), Malawi (130), Guinea (131), Burkina Faso (132), Mauritania (136), Sierra Leone (135), Burundi (136), Chad (137).
Today marks the official start of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a time when 160 countries around the world celebrate entrepreneurs and their innovative spirit. Global Entrepreneurship Week is the largest gathering of innovators and entrepreneurs who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and stimulate socio-economic development. The week is dedicated to inspire millions of people across the world through local, national and global activities designed to help them unleash their potential as entrepreneurs and innovators. In Africa, the AU through its blueprint for socio-economic development, Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want, encompasses the ideals of entrepreneurship and innovation through its developmental aspirations aimed at building a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem on the continent. Lionesses of Africa is celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week with the launch of the first Lioness Lean In Breakfast Event in Maputo, Mozambique on 17th November, powered by Standard Bank. It promises to be a great week ahead.
Global Entrepreneurship Week takes place next week from 14 to 20 November, and is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. It’s a week which inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities to help them take the next step on their entrepreneurial journey. Researchers and policymakers engage in discussions around the world to examine the underlying policies necessary to promote entrepreneurial growth. Meanwhile, world leaders and local elected officials alike have embraced the campaign as they look to fuel the economic engine of high-growth startups in their own countries and communities. Global Entrepreneurship Weekis more than just an awareness campaign - its connection and collaboration, engaging all players along the entrepreneurship spectrum in strengthening ecosystems around the world. To find out more, check out http://genglobal.org/global-entrepreneurship-week
Anyone watching the US election over the past few weeks, and then seeing the global reactions following the surprise election results in the past 24 hours, will probably have a much better appreciation for the power of engagement. If there is one thing that the US election can demonstrate to entrepreneurs, it’s that knowing your customers and stakeholders, appreciating and understanding their needs, and then engaging with them constantly to ensure they remain engaged, is critical. Anyone in business knows that it is harder, much harder, to keep customers happy and satisfied for the long term as opposed to winning them in the first place - it takes continual effort, creativity, commitment and the ability to keep listening to what they want and need. It can be all too easy to take them for granted and presume they are on board and brand loyal (just look at the US election results as evidence of this), only to find out they are not. So keep talking to your customers, get feedback constantly, look to improve your product and service offerings to keep them engaged and loyal, and never take them for granted.
This month sees the third Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) taking place on 19th November, a day on which the work of women entrepreneurs is observed, discussed, and celebrated. The inaugural event in 2014 was held in New York City at the United Nations, with additional events being held simultaneously in several other countries - in fact, Lionesses of Africa soft-launched on this day back in November 2014. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day was founded and implemented by Wendy Diamond as a global movement to celebrate and support female founders and shed light on some of their challenges. Forbes Magazine wrote that the intention was also “to mobilize a global network of female business owners, entrepreneurs and change makers who support and empower this community of women entrepreneurs and their businesses. The United Nations Foundation is a founding partner of the events. Lionesses of Africa will be celebrating Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and it’s own anniversary on this day, so watch this space.
If we look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs who have pushed the boundaries of innovation to create their unique businesses, they often have the ability to take what seems to be a crazy idea and turn it into reality. Just think Elon Musk and his SpaceX or Tesla ventures - who would have liked to be a fly on the wall in those initial business pitches and fundraising discussions, hearing about crazy ideas to build commercial businesses that would deliver rockets into space, or develop a new luxury brand of electric car. Or any number of Richard Branson’s business ventures linked to world breaking records or industry busting business models. Yet today, these boundary pushing entrepreneurs and their crazy ideas are celebrated. So, perhaps the lesson to learn is that sometimes it’s okay to let the imagination run riot, to explore new ideas that might seem a little crazy at first sight - the trick is to shift that crazy idea into reality by exploring the possibilities, looking at what could work, bouncing ideas off other people who could turn them into new products or ways of doing things. It’s what keeps the world of entrepreneurship fresh, exciting, and at the cutting edge of innovation.
Last week saw some interesting new research findings released by the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in undertaking and publishing research on entrepreneurship. The foundation analyzed studies on investors done by universities and other institutions. It appears that the number of women who invest in small businesses is growing, and so is the number of companies led by women that receive funding. In addition, the percentage of women who are angel investors has also increased from about 5 percent in 2004 to about 25 percent last year, according to new findings from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. Angel investors are people or groups who invest in very young or very small companies. Studies of venture capital firms by professors at Babson College show they’re doing more investing in companies founded by women or that have women executives, withmore than 15 percent of companies receiving venture capital between 2011 and 2013 having women executives. That’s up from less than 5 percent in the 1990s and 2000s. So, it appears there has never been a better time to be a woman entrepreneur looking to find the right kind of investment from a new network of women angels and VCs around the globe.
Many business startups know that at some point they may have to look for external funding if they want to grow. That means having a fundable business strategy that will give potential investors the information they need to make a positive funding decision. A good business strategy has a number of key components that investors will look for, including information on how the business will make money, estimated gross margins, customer acquisition programmes and associated costs, operating expenses, etc. Without this basic information, entrepreneurs will find it really hard to get angel investors or venture capitalists to take them seriously. So, if your business strategy is not in great shape, then here is a checklist of the key components it needs to make an impact:
• target market
• market size and growth
• your unique value proposition
• customer profile
• competitive landscape
• your product roadmap
• your plan over the 12, 24 and 36 months
• your key milestones, especially over the next 18 months
If an important potential investor or customer that you have been trying to get on board for your business suddenly stands next to you and you have 30 seconds to sell your idea or business to them, would you be ready? What would you say? This is where the elevator pitch comes in. As an entrepreneur, you need to be ready at any time to get your business message and sales pitch across. Having a face-to-face opportunity is priceless and you need to be ready to capitalise on it. So here are a few tips to help you get you pitch perfect.
- Create your value proposition - what problem or challenge are you trying to solve with your business and how is it going to help people in their day to day lives?
- Know your key differentiator - what makes your business, products and services different from your competitors?
- Stay on message - ensure that your pitch gets one key message across that will stick.
- Leave a lasting impression - have your business card, brochure, flyer or product sample ready to hand across as a lasting reminder of your pitch.
- Practice, practice, practice - you have to be pitch ready at any moment, so rehearse it regularly to make sure you own your pitch and that it’s compelling.
Remember, your next elevator pitch moment could lead to the next big step for your business, so be rehearsed, refreshed and ready to deliver that perfect pitch.
For many new startups, raising funds for the business can be tricky, particularly in the early days. In fact, chasing capital can become almost a full-time job in itself, becoming a distraction from actually building products or a great service offering. So what’s the answer? Well, for a large number of aspirant entrepreneurs it’s a case of either approaching friends and family for startup capital, or balancing a full or part-time job with an entrepreneurial venture at the same time. And, there’s nothing wrong with either of these approaches if it allows you the chance to get your business idea off the ground, whilst at the same time, minimising risk in the startup phase. So what are the benefits of bootstrapping a business? Many bootstrapping entrepreneurs love the fact that they are able to self-fund their businesses and maintain control of the business without having to give up precious equity to an investor. Also, bootstrapping in the early phase means having complete control over the vision and the product development, without external indue influence from other stakeholders - this means innovation can have free reign. It also means new business ideas can be tested without the risk of jeopardizing personal financial well-being. Having said all that, bootstrapping a business isn’t without its challenges. It means working long hours, balancing the needs of multiple customers and stakeholders, not to mention personal relationships, and managing time and resources. But, the positives can outweigh negatives with some good planning.
Every small business knows the importance of retaining customers - after all, it takes massive amounts of hard work, continuous communication, and hard-earned money and resources to win them in the first place, so it stands to reason that keeping them has to be a priority. With that in mind, here are a few interesting statistics on customer retention to get you focused on the job at hand!
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.
- 80% percent of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
- 65% percent of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
- 32% of executives say retaining existing customers is a priority.
- A typical small business will lose 15% of its customers each year.
- 27% of small business owners estimate that 11-20% of first-time customers don’t return to their business.
- It costs 5% more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current one.
- It costs 16x more to bring a new customer up to the same level as a current one.
- 82% of companies agree that retaining customers is cheaper to execute than acquisition.
As you can see, the impact of customer retention can be felt from your bottom line to your marketing tactics, cost of sales, and customer service. So the question is, are you taking your customer retention seriously enough?
On Friday last week, the 4th symposium on financial inclusion took place in the Rwandan capital Kigali, with a goal to enhance financial sector performance globally, particularly in developing countries. More than 300 participants attended the event, together with an influential panel of speakers which included Jennifer Riria, founder and CEO of Kenya Women Holdings, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, deputy governor at National Bank of Rwanda; and Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. On the agenda were discussions to tackle such questions as to why women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the economy and from improving their lives. The consensus seemed to point to the fact that strong commitment is needed among African governments to promote financial inclusion for women to help achieve gender equity and poverty reduction, and to remove existing barriers. Experts at the meeting argued that investing in women should be a shared priority across public and private sector stakeholders given the economic and civic implications of female participation in the formal financial ecosystem.
In the world of business, there is much talk about brands - how to build them, how to grow them, how to take them global, etc. And, for many small businesses, there is perhaps a temptation to think that building a brand comes later down the line, once the business is established and the focus is not simply on getting cash in the bank. But the reality is that building a brand matters, no matter how small the business is in the early days. Every business has a brand, and over time that business builds its brand equity. It’s what creates the emotional connection with your customers; it’s what helps to get people talking about your business and the products you make and services you provide. It’s precisely that emotional brand connection that keeps your customers coming back time and again, choosing your product and service offerings above others in the marketplace. There is no perfect future time to start thinking about how to build your brand, the time is now. Ask yourself some key questions. What is the feeling you are trying to convey to your customers when they encounter the brand in their daily lives? Can it inspire them? Can it evoke a particular memory? Once you have the answers to these type of questions, you are on your way to building your own strong brand equity, capable of lasting well after the critical startup phase.
GE and Standard Bank today announced the launch of the new ‘Healthcare Accelerator’ a country-first for South Africa, growth and training programme designed for Healthcare Professionals (HCPs). The aim of the Healthcare Accelerator is to provide technical, clinical and business acumen to HCPs who want to improve and grow their existing practices, whether private or public, or transition into private practice. The Healthcare Accelerator is now calling for entries from healthcare professionals across the country and will provide over 100 hours of training and professional development over 6 months, commencing November 2016. The practical modules will be delivered weekly in a classroom environment at the GE Africa Innovation Centre (Houghton Estate) and the Standard Bank Incubator (Rosebank) by leading experts. Courses will include strategy and business plan development, operations management, governance and ethics, digital practices, human resources and marketing. The interactive classroom experience will be complemented by access to e-learning platforms providing further resources for HCPs to develop and learn additional skills. Interested practitioners looking to take advantage of this program should apply online here, with the forty selected candidates to be announced before the end of the year.