My 3 lessons for doing business in Africa

by | 30 Jan, 2020 |

Jambo. 2 Years ago, John Bowles and I took our first trip up to beautiful Kenya, and what a shame it was that it had taken us so long. Sure, South Africa had provided a level of stability for our foundling business, but our duty to drive economic opportunity for the continent should have been realised way earlier in the founding of Turn Left Media.

Since then, we have spent some fantastic times on the ground in numerous countries. With our voices on the ground, Nelly NdonyeNorah Gitobu, and Rita Gakii, we’ve attended Social Media Week in Kenya, and visited and set up business in Nigeria with Tunde Ajetomobi, and footprints in Ghana and Ethiopia. We’ve spoken on numerous stages, to enterprises, and entrepreneurs, and appreciate the role there still is to play to uplift and empower every professional on the platform.

This year we look further to this beautiful continent and ask ourselves how we can serve our continent further, by connecting all Africans to economic opportunity, in whatever form that might mean.

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My 3 key take-outs from these amazing years so far are:

1. Take your time. It was only through the solid foundation we had established in South Africa that allowed us the freedom to expand our horizons into other countries. We also didn’t land in Kenya and start appointing people. It was essential for us to understand the market, the clients, and relationships that would allow us to engage with local markets authentically. Africa is not a country, and Ghana is not the same as Nigeria, or Kenya, or South Africa. Take the time to understand and appreciate the nuances. Ironically enough, the first people we met, Go Gaga Experiential, turned out to be the right partner.

2. Relationships matter. LinkedIn is all about connecting professionals and making them more productive and successful, and Africa thrives on the formal and informal relationships that drive our growth. Ubuntu, loosely translated as “I am because we are”, epitomizes the relationships that have been our success over almost 4 years of doing business. From the first piece of new business, in 2016, that came from a friend who believed in our expertise and trust, to the amazing friendships we have established across the continent, everything originates in our connected relationships

3. Find your why. I have been working with LinkedIn since 2010, across 3 different businesses, and it’s only been in the last 3 1/2 years, that I’ve worked at Turn Left Media that I’ve been truly able to articulate why I have chosen to stick with the LinkedIn brand for almost 10 years. Since I have been able to do so the ability to make clear business decisions that accelerate and fulfill our mission of creating economic opportunity for the African continent has become so much easier.

Asante Sana Kenya, you have changed my life forever!

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