The Investible Pipeline of Technology

Over 22 years ago, no one would have imagined that Rwanda would be the second easiest country in the world to start a business. With a six-hour registration deadline, anyone with a brilliant business idea can walk into the Rwanda Development Board facility, wait in line and present their business plan along with notified documents at the designated registrar’s desk. And later walk out as a successful CEO of their brand new business establishment. End of story. Not exactly. 

While the thought of this incredible prospect of owning a lucrative business within hours is wild, it takes much more than wishful thinking. In a constantly evolving African business landscape, harnessing technology for development has become necessary. Facing the inevitable evolution of technology is fundamental when it comes to sustaining a brand-new business. Technology has become a key ingredient for business sustainability in today’s markets irrespective of the sector one chooses to invest. 

Registering a business in Rwanda is easy, but what counts is the sustainability of that crazy out-of-the-box business idea. Africans are ripe with ideas that can bring about social change and solutions that could tackle the challenges in their communities. The reality is that without start-up capital, ideas remain unborn and without income generation, businesses get buried. 

... many businesses are unaware of the already established tech Hubs equipped with equipment and tech geeks ready to explode brilliant ideas into reality once they land on juicy business datasets.

According to datasets by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), there are over 226 million tech users across Africa. Through the digital platform of the Foundation, TEF Hub, more trained entrepreneurs will have a virtual presence on the continent as they connect ideas and insights that will consequently develop their regions. The implications of having a digital footprint of any startup business are endless. 

At a glance, the 226 million figure matters a lot because that presents fertile investment ground for Angel investors, Incubators, Accelerators, diaspora networks as well as African entrepreneurs. However, the key to reaching this ecosystem of investors, is remaining relevant in a fast changing digital landscape. Businesses can tap into the diversity that internet connectivity provides to create a virtual presence in all 55 countries across the continent and also reach beyond to other markets in the Far East, West, arctic and antarctic poles inclusive. 

Through consistent adaptation, African entrepreneurs can easily benefit from a digital ecosystem. However, the data analytics of the entrepreneurial landscape on the continent is still very limited given that there is a huge absence of verifiable customer bio-data. If at all available, huge piles of raw data are in abundance with so little translated information that is readable to the random entrepreneur. Yet many businesses are unaware of the already established tech Hubs equipped equipment and tech geeks ready to explode brilliant ideas into reality once they land on juicy business data. 

Start-ups that incorporate technology will engage a broader audience, including Africans in the diaspora who currently channel $62billion annually into the continent.

In Rwanda, several technology hubs like KLab, FabLab, Hehe Labs, all the AgriLabs and so many others are already churning out youth led businesses that thrive on digitised platforms. Constantly leveraging technology for business is the new way to sustain a business’ reach on the local, regional, continental and global market. This is because start-ups that incorporate technology will engage a broader audience, including Africans in the diaspora who currently channel $62billion annually into the continent. Tech savvy businesses can also have access to research datasets that provide insight on realities on the ground.

Rwanda’s business enabling environment shows that if a government provides the proper atmosphere for entrepreneurs to do business, they will thrive. Having an empowered Private Sector is good for the economy, it is good for the citizens and it is good for the continent. The era for ICT entrepreneurs to push boundaries and exhaust untapped resources is now. Through making known their ideas,incubating these ideas, engaging business mentors, analysing the possibilities of sustainable business plans and also communicating about their products through relevant marketing, branding and media engagement, are a few of the advantages that technology provides. 

While all these business avenues sound like fantastic rock music to the ear, the reality is that it will take a lot of discipline to remain technologically relevant for the African entrepreneur. It will alway be about meeting the customers needs and adopting new approaches to understanding what drives their spending—that is—having access to real data from the continent is the business magnet that generates partnerships for investment.

This shows that embracing ICTs for business will require intentionality when it comes to having an open source platform with well analysed data. And this data, must be presented in understandable infographics and data visualisation models that provide insight on how to boost the revenue of those who venture into technologically driven businesses. 

@GloriaIribagiza

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