The AWP Network receives letters and emails from young Africans in various parts of the world asking if it is possible to start a business with no capital.
Haleemah, a young woman based in Nigeria writes, “In a situation where the person has an idea, skill, and passion but no capital, what do you suggest that they do? How do you suggest they start a business with no startup capital?”
The AWP Network poses this question to Nine (9) Young Innovative African Entrepreneurs and here is what they have to say about starting a business with no capital.
Oluseun Onigbinde, co-founder and Lead Director of BudgIT, a civic startup company focused on promoting good governance states, “I believe that you need money to start a business. My advice is to start small and more importantly, focus on delivering value. Also, there is something called “reputation quotient” which means, using the power of your networks. When you have a brilliant idea and you are persistent enough, I believe someone will buy into it.”
Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, CEO of award-winning company WeCyclers states, “the easiest way to get funding is to build a team. You will be surprised at how quickly your idea takes off when you have a solid group of people equally passionate about your idea. Also, like our parents say, two (or more) heads are better than one. The diversity as well as the expanded network will amplify your chances of funding the venture.”
Adamu Waziri, creator of the ‘Bino and Fino’ show, an educational and cultural cartoon series says, “before you conclude that there is no money, do your research. There are many grant programs, business competitions, and initiatives out there to support entrepreneurs. Also, think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family members for support.
Popular Lagos twitter handle @GidiTraffic states, “I created @Gidi_Traffic out of nothing. The only thing I had then was a mobile phone and internet access. Money is not an excuse. If you have a good idea, money should never be a hindrance. When I created @Gidi_Traffic, I did not plan to make any money. I only wanted to help commuters’ deals with the traffic in Lagos. Do not let money serve as a hindrance to your goals. You do not need money or large capital to start your idea. Make sure your idea is feasible and simple enough that it can be implemented. ”
Rapelang Rabana, Founding CEO of Yeigo Communications and ReKindle Learning states, “money is not everything. It is a false comfort. Money will not stop a “real entrepreneur” from starting a business. Work until you have saved enough – find investors, ask friends and family, borrow. Money should not stop anyone from fulfilling their dreams. Money is an accelerator – whether you are going in the right or wrong direction, money simply accelerates you in the direction that you are already going in.
Sometimes the lack of money helps you come up with innovative strategies and different solutions. For most small businesses, the lack of money should not be a barrier to starting, although it might be a barrier to growing. The most important thing is to start. If we had waited for the perfect financial conditions, we would probably still be at the drawing board stage
Harvard MBA graduate and Sierra Leone based entrepreneur Daniel Osei-Antwi says: I believe that young people should take the time to find their passion. When you find something that you are passionate about, it won’t feel like work. Also, having mentors help – I think that if you don’t have money, it is at least important to have a strong network.
Zanau Hassan Maikasuwa, President of Farmfields Agro-Allied Services says, “so you say you don’t have money, start anyway. Money will come and you may get it when you can show your value proposition. Start small but do not plan to remain small. Look out for funding opportunities and tailor your business plan to meet various funding criteria. Nigeria is the land of opportunities despite challenges. The journey certainly will not be easy but it is worth the try. Also, look out for opportunities from the government and the private sector – find them and take advantage of them. The Nigerian government today creates and supports many initiatives, so be on the lookout.
Peter Owoeye, CEO of BayRoyal International Limited – a mining company states, “I do not see money as an obstacle. The issue is that young Africans, don’t believe in themselves. So my advice is this: Believe in yourself first, take action second, then worry about money.”
Nkem Uwaje, Managing Director of Future Software Resources Nigeria Limited, and winner of the 2012 Etisalat Nigeria Prize for Innovation says: (1) Start small and grow big. (2) Try to fund your business yourself or ask your family and friends for money. (3) If you really want something, believe in your product or business model and you will succeed. It’s just a matter of time and for how long you can endure. (4) Focus on your goals and don’t get distracted.
We hope that this provides a unique perspective to overcoming the fear of starting and encourages you to take the necessary step needed to start your business idea. Don’t let money serve as a hindrance. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve your goals, and live your dreams.
We will follow up on this conversation with a workshop on crowdfunding. Please stay tuned for details. Want to add to the conversation? please tweet @Africwomenpower. We want to hear from you.