Sunday, January 27, 2013
BBC's African Dreams
The BBC has been running a story each on a successful African Entrepreneur. The stories come from the BBC series African Dream which shows how one successful business person developed their business in Africa.
The two stories most interesting stories were about the Beauty Company in Ghana and the IT Training company in Gambia.
The BBC story of the Ghanaian Beauty Company FC Group is here. The owner trained in "beauty therapy" in the UK then returned to Ghana. She started giving advice on skin cremes and then created a product for the lower priced market. She then created a number of cosmetology schools. She has also criticized skin-lightening cremes. Here is the link to Forever Clair.
Editor's Note: We are incredibly impressed with FC product packaging. The look, printing, graphics and container quality rival any global brand. It is very difficult, but we will try to find out who their packaging and equipment suppliers are.
The BBC story of the IT training company is here. The company is called QuantumNet.
It is tempting to look for a pattern of business success in this unrepresentative sample.
The principle used by each African entrepreneur is import substitution. Replacing high cost, low fit (or quality) "foreign" products with local products. They found markets poorly served by outsiders of the community. They then brought their local knowledge, low-cost labor advantage and contacts to bare on the marketplace.
From what we can see, each entrepreneur found a niche in a service market with little foreign competition and a fragmented, disorganized local market.
They started with one key product which replaced a poor quality foreign product. In the beauty creme market, with was skin lightening cremes that damage your skin. The IT company found the market relied on European trainers.
Each found a sweet spot in the market that they understood well with little competition They created and then branded a unique product marketed to local tastes. And most products were services: security, salon, or IT training which are difficult for large or foreign companies to compete with.
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