Africa continent is a great market for any kind of startup if you can unravel the mystery behind her startup scene. We advocate tech, fintech, agritech, edu disrupts but we also advocate the understanding of African market.
Reason why many African startups failed is just because they don’t understand African business. The way business is being done in the western world is parallel to the way the black nations do business. So, what are the mysteries in the African startup scene?
SLOW ADOPTION OF NEW SYSTEM
One thing about us in Africa is that we are slow to adopt new technologies, new models and new systems. So, any startup that will come up with innovation must understand the slow to adoption of Africans. Therefore, the startup should prepare to tarry for a while before the product is acceptable. Many times, the adoption is as a result of knowing how to use. The product will need to be simple and well explanatory with lots of documentation and support.
One great thing about Africans is that, once they grab it, then you have them forever. Not like the western world where they have many alternatives.
GIVE THEM FREE, BILL THEM LATER
Average Africa is skeptical to pay for what is new. They don’t want to pay for what you are offering them despite it will benefit them. Now telling them it is free, then you will see them nodding head. I have introduced many products to people in Africa and the question they will ask is that is it free. That is why many Africa startups adopt trial period or use free.
The thing is that, if the product is given to them free, they don’t want to know if the system is deducting their money. For example, the introduction of USSD was a great innovation in the financial industry. Assuming if an average customer ask to pay 10 Naira for usage they won’t agree because that money will seems too much. But banks using USSD deduct more than that even per transaction.
Never bombard Africans with adverts or fallacies or media stunts. We have heard of many businesses that fold up in Nigeria whereas they have spent lot of money on media and publicity. To grow a startup in Africa, it must be mostly organically. Organic growth may seems slow but it is the most effective.
The question I asked someone was that how do I get to know about Whatsapp and Facebook? Up till today, I don’t have answers. Those systems grow organically in Africa.
AFRICA CUSTOMERS ARE THOMAS, WE SEE BEFORE BELIEVING
That is how Africa startup scene is structured. This is the analogy – For Ojo to use your product, he will first ask if Chinedu and Ali is using it? If both are using it, then the possibility of Ojo using it is very high and the possibility of getting all people around Ojo is very high as well. And this makes the startup grow faster.
AFRICANS ADVERTISE FOR STARTUPS
It is true we are slow to adoption and we are always skeptical or afraid of innovations. But the moment the product suites and do what expected to be done, the startup will blow. You know why? The happy customer will tell more than 100 people around about the new product. We are always proud of new thing that works.
I know how far I have advertise some products like Paystack, GTB USSD *737# etc without any benefit from them. They give me what I want and I will be happy to recommend it to anyone.
AFRICA IS THE BEST PLACE FOR STARTUP
Despite the mysteries, Africa is the best place for any kind of startup. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba visited Kenya and said all what he saw was opportunities. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook jugged in the street of Lagos exploring opportunities in Nigeria. Larger patronage of foreign startups come from Africa and they have seen Africa as the best marketplace.
So, you want to startup in Africa, consider the above mysteries and play around them.
BE READY TO SCALE WHEN YOU LAUNCH
When Africans understand something, they explore it to the maximum. Not only exploring it, they play it, hack it and try to make something new out of it. If it works, then be ready to scale.