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Survival vs. Opportunity: Entrepreneurship on the Continent

The new wave of tech and social entrepreneurship is booming African economies and rapidly reversing the brain drain. In a recent panel at the Harvard Africa Business Conference, we discussed the two major types of entrepreneurship moving

The new wave of tech and social entrepreneurship is booming African economies and rapidly reversing the brain drain. In a recent panel at the Harvard Africa Business Conference, we discussed the two major types of entrepreneurship moving the Continent forward: survival-driven entrepreneurship and opportunity-driven entrepreneurship.

Survival-driven entrepreneurship (SDE) is what we tend to see on the continent – the tomato seller, the cart pusher, or the washerman. It is entrepreneurship that springs from the need to create a source of income outside of employment. The problem with SDE is that it rarely transforms into a formidable, lasting company. Businesses that start off this way tends to start and end with the founders. However these businesses traditionally have constituted the foundations of economies across the Continent.

Opportunity-driven entrepreneurship (ODE) is what all who want to have a lasting, impactful enterprise on the African continent are leading with. This type of entrepreneurship goes beyond your personal purpose; it is one that entails looking at a vision greater than yourself and working to execute it. It is recognizing that there are no mechanics within 10 miles of a neighborhood, training expert staffs, and opening a car shop. It entails real research and vision.

On the continent, there is a surge in ODE. There are Uber drivers vs. local “cabbu cabbu” drivers who freestyle their market approach to finding customers. There is the Jumia vs. the local “buy and sell” supplier who depends on customers walking by their shop.

The importance of ODE does not ignore the fact that there is a need for other methods of business on the Continent. However, having ODE as the driving economic force will lead to forced innovation and evolution of business practices in the long run.

Morenike Ayo-Vaughan
By day, Morenike is a healthcare consultant and by night, she is a fiction writer and recipe developer who is also interested in the impact of entrepreneurship on the African Continent.
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