Few months ago, I read a report that developing nations have more entrepreneurs than developed ones, per every 1000 citizens. Those findings are believable if you include the artisans and subsistence farmers. When people become entrepreneurs because they have no other alternative to survive, I may not necessarily call it the best move. I will prefer entrepreneurs that got into building companies because they have a mission for the society. It is very ridiculous to include market women selling corns on the streets of Lagos as entrepreneurs!
No matter how you see it, IBM was once a startup. Intel was one. GE was also in the loop. Facebook is just evolving from the startup status. Humans made them. So, every company on earth today, was at a certain time, a startup.
Take another look at these companies; the founders were motivated to solve problems which could affect a process, tool or people. In other words, they expected that their solutions will make the society better. That is the basic philosophy of entrepreneurship: see a problem and create a solution to solve it.
When you do it, without that determination and passion to solve a problem, rather, to make money, you seem not get it right. The purpose of entrepreneurship is not necessarily to make big bucks. It is to offer value to your clients which will surely make humanity better. The more you can get that done, the more successful you are. That was how disruptive innovation plays into the game of changing markets and society.
In America and Europe, when people see problems, they get upset and they get down to business to provide solutions. Of course, they could make money in the process. The medical devices were not designed to just make money. The designers had visions to make human existence better. The drug companies did the same. The mobile phones are conceived to simplify communication. The water purification systems are to make sure you drink clean water. The list is endless.
But move to Africa, when we see problems, we just write about them as I am doing now. As soon as we finish, we have a feeling that we have solved a problem for the society. We do not get upset to get to action and truly find a solution. Take for instance the case in Nigeria where for decades, electricity has remained a problem. Professors, businessmen, newsmen, etc have articles on it. Yet, no one has been upset enough to provide a solution. Our roads are broken, our hospitals have no drugs. In all these issues, there are opportunities for entrepreneurs. But unlike the Western counterparts that get to action, Africans are not doing that.
The truth is this: until we learn how to get upset when we see problems in the society and get to work solving them, nothing will change. Yes, it will be the same process and system – poverty, pains and hopelessness. Schools are not educating the kids right. We know that, but what are we doing about that? We have no medical database and many people are dying as doctors cannot coordinate health delivery. From medical professionals to engineers, no one has taken it up to give Nigeria one. Simply, we all complain, but never get upset to the point of doing something. That needs to change!
by Ndubuisi Ekekwe