AFFORD Interviews #DiasporaTransformer Noreen Makosewe

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1. Tell us about your business and the motivations behind starting your business?

The Radical Leap Company focuses on providing end-to-end strategy and grow solutions for brands leaders and organisations with the aim of increasing performance, productivity and profitability. In the course of working with businesses over the years, I noticed the need founders and co-founders have for consulting and long-term mentoring and advisory support to help minimise failure rates and increase chances of success. That led me to create different programmes that carter to start-ups in general as well as female founders, who have a higher churn rate (more start-ups and closures).

a. Start-Up Box™ – 1-2 day immersive to take ideas from concept to reality
b. Crystallize™ – 12-week accelerator programme for growth stage businesses
c. Female Founders Africa™ – 10-month programme for female-led, Africa-focused businesses

2. What do you find most rewarding about being an entrepreneur and working in Africa?

Being part of the positive transformation of businesses and the lives and communities connected to them. Being of African origin, I am passionate about helping African businesses compete on a global platform by become future-ready, more profitable and sustainable, with the aim of birthing more local venture capitalists capable of investing in start-ups in their home countries.

3. What advice would you give to young members of the African diaspora who are interested in starting a business in Africa?

a. Get on a plane and go to your country of interest. Market reports are brilliant but back that up with first-hand experience of what it feels like to be in the environment where you want to do business
b. Speak to locals and understand what the greatest need is. It’s dangerous to make assumptions based on own mind-set, media representation or market reports only. Africa is a dynamic market and change is constant. Understanding that could be the difference between success and failure
c. Respect local knowledge. Find allies or trusted partners who can guide you in discovering the business terrain of your country of interest. They are the experts in that regard
d. Understand both the business culture and social norms of your country of interest. Certain words and actions that are not ill-intended could damage business relationships
e. Follow economic and political changes of your country of interest closely. The survival of your business could depend on your ability to adapt or exit at the right time

4. What do you think are some of the key barriers in preventing people to starting their own businesses?

a. Fear of the unknown
b. Misconceptions based on second-hand knowledge
c. Lack of know-how of certain aspects of business or their specific industry
d. Lack of ongoing support (business coaching, consulting or advisory support, mentoring)
e. No access to funding to start-up (some businesses are capital intensive)
f. Not knowing how to pitch correctly to access the right funding

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