Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Angel Investors in East Africa

Bike Spares - Micro Economic Success in KenyaOn the remote plains of Tanzania, about two hours from the city of Dodoma, a company called Iron Monger Group churns out farm tools handcrafted from spare truck springs. It was founded for a mere $100, enough to cover the cost of an anvil. Now, five years later, business is booming; Iron Monger has even begun exporting tools to Zambia and the Congo. (Link to Village Enterprise Fund website)

Click the image below to read the article from Business 2.0:

Micro Level Investment in East Africa - It Works!

I’ve always felt that Microeconomic development had a great deal of potential in East Africa. I remember visiting Bududa in Western Uganda, seeing the potential small business opportunities there. If a person has the drive to make something of themselves, and the discipline to push their profits back into the enterprise, there is money to be made. When you’re dealing with the kind of people who have that entrepreneurial drive, and the business acumen to make it successful, it only makes sense to invest in them.

Ugandan Micro Enterprise - Hair SalonThere are definately challenges to doing business in East Africa, especially for those who start with little or nothing. First, as intelligent as most Africans are (just like anywhere else in the world), there is still a need for education on basic business best practices – things like basic accounting and cash flow. I can think of many a Kenyan who has great business ideas and who has had the money to get started on something, only to have it crash shortly thereafter. My experiences have taught me that many times they make a profit, but do not reinvest that into the business, thus causing their business to wither, shrivel and die.

Maize Mill Micro Enterprise Success - KenyaSecond, the cultural situation in rural Africa is that whoever starts to make money is expected to share the wealth with the whole (extended) family. That expectation significantly reduces the operating budget, and in my opinion, allows individuals to leech off of their own and not take responsibility for their own financial well-being. While there are exceptions to this, and trickling down money to family for them to use to start their own enterprises is a good example, it hurts more than it helps.

Everyone likes to point to the US as the land of opportunity – the opportunity resides in other countries as well, people just have to want to do it badly enough and have the assets (money and brains) to get it done. The fact that this is an American led effort (in this example) doesn’t matter. Personally, I think African’s should be taking care of African’s if at all possible, but that’s another article all together.


  1. This is slightly off-topic, but I thought you might be interested in a commentary by Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute I heard on NPR this morning. He argues that the ongoing problems in Darfur should be handled by Africans with the world’s support, not the other way around. You can listen here.

  2. Aly, I just listened to Preble’s take on the Darfur situation. I completely agree with him that this is an African problem that requires African’s to solve it. I could care less about his reasoning for not having the US take on more of a role in this region – my concern is more with Africa taking care of itself, be it the US or someone else.

    I think assuming that the US, or some other Western government, must be involved makes a mockery of the competency of Africans and continues the deception that Africans can’t take care of themselves.

    The only time African nations will be able to pull themselves out of the political, economic and thieving muck that they are in right now is when they start taking responsibility for themselves. No more leaning on the West, no more pointing the finger at someone else as their reason for incompetence and inadequacy.

  3. Lascelles Chen

    June 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I am looking for venture capital financing of US$350,000 to finance the establishment of MFmobile Ltd.. The company will be a microfinance (MFI) company which will offer ICT based financial services to the masses, using mobile telephony and electronic money platforms. Savings and credit are the two initial financial products that will be offered to members of groups ranging from 5 – 50. The MFmobile business model is differentiated from the services currently being offered by other MFI’s by the capabilities of its software application which replaces most of the front and back office functions in a normal MFI. There are no credit officers, no tellers, no group meetings, no cash transactions, and no branches. Customers are only required to satisfy KYC (know your customer) requirements once per year.

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