Focus On African Startups – A New Tekedia Column By Stern School of Business MBA Graduate, Brian L. Aoaeh

For my first article I will like to introduce the philosophy behind my column, tell you the topics I intend to cover and tell you a little bit about myself.


I expect to publish a new article every fortnight. Typically, I will make an effort to keep my posts between 250 – 350 words, or 750 – 1000 words if I feel that is justified. I am guilty of loving to dig deep into anything I am studying or writing about. In this case I hope to acquire some discipline.


The goal of my column will be to focus on issues relevant to entrepreneurship and start-ups across Africa. Although I have a special affinity for technology and science based industries, I do not intend to discriminate as far as this column is concerned; every industry is fair game. I believe that entrepreneurship offers one path to solving some of Africa’s most pressing problems


We will study and discuss entrepreneurship in general. Our focus here will be to explore the environment for entrepreneurs across Africa, the socio-cultural dynamics, the political climate, and the economic realities that affect the development of a more commercially entrepreneurial society. We will also examine the factors that are necessary for creating a culture that nurtures an increase in commercial entrepreneurship throughout Africa.


We will study and discuss start-ups, specifically, African start-ups. The goal of this exploration will be gain a clearer understanding of the start-up scene across Africa. We will also examine start-up activity that is driven by people of African descent living abroad; in this case we will favor people who travelled abroad for business, or academic study. We will discuss the challenges faced by these start-ups in general, with a special focus on problems peculiar to those start-ups that are based in Africa. The topics we focus on will include; start-up business models, business plans, product development, and innovation. We will rely heavily on case studies when appropriate, either in direct relation to one of these topics, or simply to focus on something interesting that an African entrepreneur is doing. Once in a while we may study an example from another developing region of the world.


We will study and discuss major conceptual developments in the areas of corporate and business strategy and try to apply those concepts to early and late-stage start-ups. Examples will be taken from around the world in order to highlight certain lessons on which I want to focus our attention. The topics we discuss here will include corporate and business strategy, general management, competition, game theory, marketing and other topics that I think could be considered under this broad umbrella.


We will study and discuss topics in accounting and finance that I believe are important for any entrepreneur launching a start-up anywhere.


Now, a little bit about me; I come from Ghana, but grew up in Nigeria between the age of 5 and 12. My family has lived in Nigeria for more than 3 decades. I studied mathematics and science at the WAEC GCE O and A Level at St. Francis Xavier Junior Seminary, Wa, UWR, Ghana and the Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School at Legon, Accra, Ghana respectively. I obtained a BA with a double major in Mathematics and Physics at Connecticut College, and then an MBA in General Management with a specialization in Financial Instruments and Markets from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. I am presently an analyst in Corporate Development at a small (I mean really small!) privately held private equity/venture capital company in the United States. I assess investment opportunities and assist the entrepreneurs we work with accomplish the task of building successful companies. You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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