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How Africa Can Compete in the era of Anti-globalization

Darshan Chandaria

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If there is one thing, we can be certain of in this day and age, its uncertainty. The rise of populism in the recent past came as a surprise to many with the phenomenon manifesting in two highly politicized events in 2016; those being Brexit in Britain and the election of Donald Trump in America. The world was taken aback by the heated arguments that ensued and resulted in two unlikely outcomes.

The top issues on the table in 2016 were immigration and the loss of national identity. This is quite understandable because people are worried about their jobs, wages, and the erosion of their culture and are seeking an alternative to what is the consequence of globalization.

During the second half of the 20th Century, world leaders were confronted with the challenge to discover new tools that would govern the global economy, environment and changing circumstances of modern life. Thus, began the process of reconstruction from the previous nation-state to an internationalized structure. Consequently, economic, political, cultural, legal and other aspects of society were forced to adapt to the realities of globalization. Essentially, this meant the elimination and weakening of various regulatory functions; free movement of people from country-to-country and the formation of trading blocks, all with the aim of global thinking and doing business freely.

The seeds of the anti-globalization movement became evident in 1999 when riots broke out during the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit in Seattle. The riots were led by an enraged group of opponents of international trade and the anti-globalization arguments; brought about by the institutionalization of the global financial system through institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the like. We must appreciate though, that anti-globalization has transformed into a more polarized movement from the days of the WTO Seattle riots. Anti-globalization has leaders questioning the unification of the world versus a nationalistic approach to global relations. What does this mean for Africa?

Protectionist Policies

Let me begin by citing an example of a recent move made by President Trump and the impact it has on Africa. Trump made a number of promises during the elections and one of them was an end to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He argued that the TPP agreement would have cost American’s their jobs and livelihood.

Prior to the formation of the TPP, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) had been in place since the year 2000, and was renewed for another 10 years in 2015, by President Obama.

AGOA enables African companies in the textile industry to export their finished products to the US market duty- free. The fact that it allows for 3rd party sourcing of fabric and still allows exportation to the US duty-free made it even more appealing to nations like Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mauritius and Madagascar that already have vibrant textile industries.

The TPP was going to offer the same opportunity to a hand full of Asian countries and Africa would have faced stiff competition from these markets. Sourcing fabric from 3rd parities would have resulted in long lead times, less value addition and the loss of opportunity in the American market for African manufacturers.

Asian products are preferable because they have more control over the factors of production, with more value addition than we do here in Africa. The reality of that matter is if Africa doesn’t improve in value addition in our products, we risk losing opportunities in the long run. In a sense this has bought Africa some time.

Many multinational companies are grappling with the future of business where nations are adopting more protectionist policies. This era calls for strategic thinking more than ever and high-level intelligence in order to identify emerging trends. In summary, business leaders need to adapt their operations to meet the challenges ahead in order to build robust businesses. Negotiation will be an important skill going forward and it will have to be up close and personal. This calls for an appreciation of people from different cultures and respect of the value systems they deem fundamental to their way of life. Back to the example I cited on the implications of the end of the TPP on Africa; protectionist policies are going to be a way of life in the business climate. Africa has a lot of work to do if we are going to compete globally any time soon.

As we move into a more self-regularized and protectionist business climate, Africa needs to reposition itself to offer tangible value to our trading partners. In order for us to attract investors we need to put regulations in place such as frameworks for trade that will integrate industries and assets to serve the goals of policy, in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Another aspect that needs improvement is the ability for people to understand the African business climate better. Kenya has been at the forefront in improving the ease of doing business index, however, more indices are required that show how the trade is expected to perform and other methods that enable investors to assess risks. Finally, we need to encourage more international cooperation through mutually beneficial partnerships with a long-term view that grows economies and ensure that growth is felt at the grassroots level – can we improve the lives of every African? This essentially means that Africa must develop long term plans dedicated to the development of its people.

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How To Get Out of Startup Mode and Grow Your Business

Your vision is not improved by staying in startup mode.

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Entrepreneurs stay in startup mode way too long. Keeping a small business in startup mode requires you to stand on the brake. If you keep telling people you’re “just a startup,” you will never take actions for real growth.

It’s time to move from startup to grown up mode and from planning to doing. In two years, you want to look back at your startup phase as an important part of your thriving business’ history. You want to say, “I remember when I was sitting on my floor packing boxes myself. Now I employ over 100 people.” This is the mindset to move towards and here are five ways to do it:

1. Delegate. When you’re in startup phase, you are handling everything. To become a going concern you have to start investing in people to do tasks you can no longer do. Three quarters of all small businesses have zero employees, which underscores the resistance people have to delegating. You have to grow your business. It is a misnomer to think people cost money. A lack of production and failure to grow your businesscosts far more.

2. Pick your battles. Don’t get wrapped up for a week deciding on a logo when it ultimately doesn’t matter. Your brand will evolve as your business evolves, so your logo is likely to change. There are more important things to obsess over – gaining customers and making money. When you are hunting big game, don’t swat mosquitoes.

3. Get attention.The single biggest problem every startup has is becoming known. Your most important task is to get attention for you and your company. It’s the gateway to every dollar you raise. Muhammed Ali told the world he was the greatest long before anyone knew him. He got attention and infuriated people. But he proved himself, which turned criticism into world admiration. Get attention. Get critics. Then get admiration.

4. Change your pitch. Instead of saying “I own a small web design company,” say “I own a web design company like none other that guarantees your company increased sales.” Notice the difference? The first makes you seem small and insignificant. It makes no claim. The second makes you seem unique, confident and capable of being a money maker. Know how to pitch yourself and your business. Be ready to quickly explain what your company does that is better, faster and of value to the marketplace. Then, make big claims to the world.

5. Create urgency. If you start a business venture without setting specific timelines for action and achievements, you will be stuck forever with excuses. One of the biggest mistakes I have made in business was not operating with enough urgency. Being an entrepreneur is a marathon activity with lots of sprints. Win a lot of little races and you will provide your people and company with momentum.

We recently shot a television show at my office and I told the editing staff that I wanted rough cuts in half the time they thought necessary. Then I called every day for a progress update. This pressure to perform doesn’t lead to inferior products; it get products to be finished. Urgency is key to getting things done.

Remember: Your vision is not improved by staying in startup mode. It’s time to accelerate and become a going concern that is grabbing market share from the other bigger more established players. It used to be the big who ate the small. Today, it is the fast who eat the slow.

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Resilience Is The Key Ingredient In Entrepreneurship

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Resilience is a common trait among entrepreneurs. The degree could differ among individuals depending on their needs, but plenty of it is required at the start.  

The modern entrepreneur has plenty of resources at their disposal that the older generation wish they had a fraction of. Blogs, YouTube tutorials, incubation hubs name them, and yet still click on suspect links that urge them to make fifty thousand shillings in a week. What they fail to understand is that life on the proverbial fast lane takes years to build.

The ‘10,000 hours’ concept is quite simple. You work on a craft or skill by dedicating 10,000 hours to it then maybe you become a master at it. There’s no way around amassing a fortune unless through corruption or theft. This ethics go all across the board into pop culture where famous actors win awards after so many years of doing low budget films away from the limelight. Even TV reality stars gain their names by putting in hours of work. Resilience is what allows business owners and brands to keep at their ideas and not give up even when they make dismal profits.

The transactions of an entrepreneur do not end with sales of a product or service. An entrepreneur wants to learn the market and identify gaps for innovative products and services. Besides, how else will you spot a gap if you don’t painstakingly conduct due diligence?

Persistence spurs action. How, you ask? It presents opportunities to engage directly with your potential client. You are asking them to take a chance on your product or service and therefore will get used to being hanged up on or even insulted as you conduct one on one sales. If you strategically keep marketing you will recognize what works to your advantage and how to gain a profit.

The hustle will consume most of your time especially when you’re starting out. You will be knee-deep in accounts and before you know it, a week is gone! Then you scroll through your social media feed and see your friends colourful pictures in events you were dying to attend which might further depress you. Then your bills will jolt you out of your misery because they need to be paid which again comes back to your determination to succeed.

A successful entrepreneur will learn how to cut costs and plough profits back into the business for growth. The success of this decision could be affected by investors other than you. This is why vetting to find partners who share your similar ideas and goals is important.

The laser focus that comes with the resilience trait distinguishes people who start ten businesses and fail at each of them or focus time and energy on few at a time and do them well. This growth will help an entrepreneur decide if they will pursue it or if the business isn’t viable anymore. Spreading yourself too thin affects creativity and production if you’re a sole proprietor.

When you believe in the brand you’re building there’s so little that can move you. The confidence you have in your business inspires others to want to do business with you because they trust your person to person interaction.

When you narrow it down further to creative entrepreneurship, personal character defines individual artists even as they transact their art for profit. You could say the rules change for entrepreneurs in different fields but they actually remain the same. The setting may be less formal but still has peaks and dips like other sectors.

More young people are looking for freedom to express themselves creatively and have found a niche in this market. They have to constantly reinvent themselves and be extremely good at what they do to remain above the pack. They do all this and insist on ‘passion’ being the driver of what they do.

The creative industry is structured such that the profit earned from a service provided is paid to the ‘artist’ or through their representative. The split allowance is then ploughed back to learning another skill and the cycle continues.

At the end of the day it is all about resilience.

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How To Become A Contributor for Inversk

You do not have to be an entrepreneur for you to write for Inversk Magazine. You can be somebody who has worked for a big company.

Kimani Patrick

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Over the last couple of months, Inversk has grown to be a powerhouse community of entrepreneurs who read our business content on a daily basis. So far Inversk is Kenya’s fastest growing business magazine and our blog is the premier source of actionable business content for entrepreneurs.

As a result, we receive requests asking how one can become a contributor to Inversk and our bi-monthly magazine. So I’ve decided to write a post with information and guidelines that I could send to people.

One reason you may want to become a contributor at Inversk is to position yourself as an authority over your area of specialization, to boost your credibility as an entrepreneur as well as impact other entrepreneurs positively through sharing your knowledge with them.

If you want to speak directly to an audience of committed and curious entrepreneurs or wantprenuers, Inversk is the place. Also, it is good to note that we do not pay contributors for both our magazine or blog.

Please note that being a contributor at Inversk does not offer you an opportunity to promote your business. The platform only provides you the opportunity to put forward your best advice and help readers accomplish their goals. Our readers always come first. If you want to use the platform to promote your business that is not the proper way.

First and foremost, you do not have to be an entrepreneur for you to blog at Inversk. You can be somebody who has worked for a big company.

We are more interested in ideas and the way you present your ideas. You don’t have to have your own business to write for us but you do need to have expertise in the area you’re writing about. We are looking for subject expertise and personality which is very important as well.

What to write: At Inversk, we strive to share actionable advice on how to build a business. Pieces about starting businesses, growing businesses, ideas, productivity, small business, leadership, technology, management, customer service, Finance, and entrepreneurship resonates well with our audience.

We recommend writing actionable advise/tips that our readers can put to use right away. The advice should be clear enough for a reader to put into action. The best tips are often ideas our readers haven’t seen before but offer them a new solution to a common problem. Consider your personal experience. What problems have you overcome? What unique perspectives can you bring? Tell that story.

The ideal length for your article should be between 800 and 1,500 words for online content and between 400 to 2,000 for magazine content. This content must not have been previously published on any site or publication. The content must be original and exclusive to Inversk. We will reject any content already published on other sites or in print and further blacklist your from submitting any content to us.

The steps to take;

  1. Read our site, and get familiar with the content we share. Search the site for what you’re writing on, see what’s already been written and find your own unique angle.
  2. Come up with a great idea.
    It should be within your area of interest or expertise. We want you to write something that you would want to read yourself.
  3. Pitch to us
    Send our editor a proposal – not a full article. Our Editorial email is: kimani@inversk.co.ke. Keep it brief: a tentative headline; two or three sentences explaining what your articles will be about; and one sentence saying why you are qualified to write them.

Based on this proposal we will let you know within three business days whether to start submitting your articles. If you do not hear from us in that time, please assume that we will not be able to publish your submissions; you should then feel free to offer them elsewhere.

If you qualify to be a contributor

Submit completed articles.
Please don’t send us rough drafts and ask our editors to critique or tell you whether you are on the right track. Attach your article as a Microsoft word document and send it via mail.

What happens next?

Our editor will acknowledge receipt of your article the same day, and let you know whether it has been accepted for publication.

If it is, our editors reserve the right to edit the article at their discretion, including changes in the text, subheads and headline, to improve readability and maximize web traffic.

After that we will request you to send us your brief bio. This means: your name; the name of your company (with a link to your website); and your social media links.

We will then create an author’s account on our site and send you login details to start contributing at Inversk as well as the magazine.

How often should a contributor write? There is no magic formula or number. It depends on what you’re writing about and what message you want to send to readers. We have contributors who write twice a week, weekly, every other week and monthly. If you’re writing about a niche topic it’s probably best to scale back.

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