Business Success Stories and Anecdotes from Africa.com on Doing Business in Africa
From Soweto to Sandton to Global Sophisticates – Getting Online Success Stories
Since the dawn of the internet, Africans have been much bigger consumers of online content than producers of online content. For example, according to InternetWorldStats.com, there are over 50 million Africans on Facebook alone. However, there are only approximately about 1 million websites created by Africans. By comparison, Brazil, with only one fifth of Africa’s population, has 15 million websites. Going forward there is no doubt that Africans will catch up with the rest of the world, and start creating their own websites online.
Africa.com is providing the tools to make it easy for Africans to create their own websites. We start by offering small businesses an Africa.com domain name which is a very powerful platform for them to say to the world that they are doing business in Africa. For example, hotels.africa.com or books.africa.com. These domain names are highly valued as they give SMEs the unmatched visibility, security and reliability of .com which has been combined with the keyword Africa.
An example of this is the story of Vusi Makate’s journey to owning the Sandton Hair salon in South Africa. He went from rinsing his customer’s hair by toting buckets of water in his backyard, to owning an upscale salon serving black and white customers in Sandton City, the premier shopping mall on the African continent. Africa.com worked with Vusi by helping him get online and take his business to the next level. Now, a good portion of his clients find him online and call from Los Angeles, London and Lagos to book appointments during their travels to Johannesburg. He went from Soweto to Sandton, and has now gone global with a website built by africa.com. You can see his website here: sandtonhair.africa.com.
Another example is the story of Nero Ogheneovo, based in Lagos, Nigeria who started making t-shirts with a friend while at college just eight years ago. He longed to be an entrepreneur and was ready to get started building his business. With the success producing and selling a few t-shirts he decided to see if he could sell more on a larger scale. Africa.com helped Nero establish a new website to further his plans of reaching all of Africa. With offices in Ghana and Nigeria and clients in most West African countries, Tshirt Factory Africa is growing to become a full-scale custom T-shirt production company that will serve the whole of Africa. His website, built by africa.com, tshirtfactory.africa.com now books orders from customers across the African continent.
Meet the Market Where It Is – African Leapfrog – Mobile First
Like any part of the world, to be successful at doing business in Africa requires a solid understanding of the local context. In the United States, most people first got online through desktop and laptop computers, and only started accessing the internet via mobile devices years later. Africans are leapfrogging the Western world, and for many Africans, their first engagement online is via a mobile device. Today, most Africans access the internet via a mobile device.
In order to deliver web content that is easily accessible to Africans, one must rethink the business model and essentially meet Africans where they are and create websites that are made specifically for mobile. In the US, we make websites that are made to look and work great on a desktop, and as an afterthought, “look OK” on a mobile device. Africa.com realized that in order to serve the African market, we had to turn the status quo upside down and make websites that are specifically designed to look and work great on a mobile device, and as an afterthought, “look OK” on a desktop. (To see what africa.com’s websites look like on various mobile phones, click here.)
With the launch of go.africa.com, we help Africans across the continent get online with stunning websites designed to perform brilliantly on African mobile devices, both smart phones and older feature phones which are still used by a large portion of the population in most countries.
It has also been important to recognize how Africans might use mobile sites. Some of the more popular uses may not be the same as in the United States. For example, many African cultures have funerals that involve the entire community and become far more elaborate events than is typical in the United States. For this reason, africa.com introduced memorial websites optimized mobile devices. These websites are used to communicate the time and place of a funeral to the entire community, and the funeral program is accessed via a mobile device at the service to save costly printing charges.
Click here to see a sample memorial website created by africa.com.
Africa Straight Up – Telling Stories about Africa to Africans and the World
In her TED Talk by the same title, Nigerian author of Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Adichie remarks about the “Danger of a Single Story.” Africa has been plagued by a single, negative narrative both abroad, and amongst its own people. In an effort to address this concern, africa.com undertook to collect and tell stories that show the many sides of Africa. New stories, good stories, and realistic stories.
Africa.com wrote, directed and produced the documentary Africa Straight Up, which explores the developments taking place today in Africa in government, technology, business and education. It is an informative film, that is fun and easy to digest in order to reach as many audiences as possible.
While the film was originally intended for the international audience, africa.com has found its biggest audience for the film in Africa itself. South Africans are keen to explore business opportunities in Nigeria, Nigerians find technology developments in Kenya to be intriguing, Kenyans are impressed with the newly founded university in Ghana, etc. Just last week, the film was licensed to be broadcast on DSTV across 51 African countries in multiple screenings throughout 2015 and 2016. According to the Huffington Post, “Africa Straight Up debunks the (in)sensibility that Africa could ever be limited to a single narrative. The video is ‘a more complete story about Africa and its diaspora’ and ‘a dynamic ‘not your parents’ documentary’ about the stereotypes confronting Africa.”
Africa.com Top10 – “We Read All the Africa News So That You Don’t Have To”
As much as has been said about Africa being more than one country, it is important for investors to have a clear perspective not only on their specific country of interest but on developments across the continent. To this end, trying to consume news about developments in all 54 countries is a rather daunting task and it is difficult to stay on top of all of the developments across the continent.
The Africa.com editors have made it easy by consuming all of the African news published by African and western sources every day. They determine which are the most important business stories and who wrote about them most effectively, then summarize those stories and disseminate the summaries along with links to the original sources. This helps business people gain a perspective on the continent as a whole.
Africa.com distributes over 100,000 email newsletters to subscribers around the world every week. We offer the Top10 in various forms: daily news, weekly news, weekly business news, weekly arts and culture stories, and weekly travel stories.
Readers of the africa.com Top10 find it to be a very efficient way to stay on top of what is happening in the vast continent of Africa. Said one CEO of a African financial institution, “I don’t consider myself as being well read about Africa unless I read the africa.com Top 10. Each week I find at least one story on a topic that I had not previously known about”.