Looking at 2016 through the lens of my writing career, it was quite an impressive year indeed.
In May, my article on Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Lagos (Nigeria) for the launch of his controversial free internet program – Free Basics – was published in The Huffington Post.
In June, following my article chronicling my journey in urban agribusiness, I was featured on live TV by CNN Money.
And in November, my article on starting an agribusiness in Africa was featured in the November issue of The Africa Perspective Magazine, a promising publication that’s doing a great job at changing the way the world sees Africa.
2016 also presented an explosive leap in the number of readers who follow my work. On LinkedIn, for example, my followers grew from less than 10,000 people in early 2016 to just over 195,000 by December.
I am humbled by the realization that there are thousands of people out there in the world who share my opinions and convictions about Africa and entrepreneurship, the two main subjects I focus on.
In this article, I have put together a collection of the top 12 articles that got the most attention from my readers and followers in 2016.
Here’s the countdown:
12) Is Africa Still Rising? Yes. Actually, We’re Just Getting Started!
Africa’s economy took quite a beating during 2016.
Tumbling oil prices put Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, in a recession. A global slump in commodity prices – especially gold, copper and coffee – affected several other countries including South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Angola.
And to cap Africa’s economic misfortune, the World Bank reasonably predicted an economic slowdown of less than 3%; a dismal contrast to the continent’s galloping growth of 8% over the last decade.
As expected, the cynics have been asking: Is Africa still rising?
But Africa has been down this road before.
This article explores 5 interesting points that reveal just how resilient our continent really is, and how Africa’s economic transformation is only just getting started.
11) The 7 Demons You Must Defeat Before You Can Succeed In Business
What does it really take to be successful in business?
Why do some people succeed in business, while others stutter, stumble and fail?
Through my work with entrepreneurs, I have found that up to 80 percent of the factors that significantly increase our chances of becoming successful in business are psychological.
Sadly, most of us have serious psychological roadblocks that withhold, frustrate, and torment our dreams of becoming entrepreneurs or succeeding in business.
I call them demons.
In this article, I identified the top 7 demons you must defeat if you want to unlock all the roadblocks that are standing between you and business success.
10) 11 Business Opportunities in Africa That Will Make More Millionaires in 2016
Published in February 2016, this article beamed a searchlight on the most interesting sectors, industries and markets for business opportunities.
This article was widely shared on social media and earned just over 3,000 likes and shares in the weeks and months after its release.
The best part is, almost every business opportunity revealed in this article will still be in play in 2017 and the years to come.
If you’re looking for business ideas and opportunities to explore, you will surely find a lot of value from this article.
9) 5 Reasons African Businesses Do Not Survive Beyond A Generation
IBM. Coca-Cola. Ford. Nestlé. Pepsi. General Electric. Procter & Gamble. Bacardi.
I’m sure these names ring a bell.
Apart from being large, highly successful global businesses, they also have something very interesting in common: all of them have been in existence for more than a century.
Across Africa, I’ve noticed the situation is quite different. Apart from a handful of small family businesses, and a few others with colonial ties, it’s often not the norm to find African businesses or brands that have survived beyond their founders.
For some strange reason, after the founder retires or dies, the business starts on a path of slow or accelerated death.
In this article, I shared my thoughts on this ugly trend, and 5 of the biggest reasons why most African businesses don’t last beyond a generation.
8) White on Black – How The Business of Skin Bleaching is Evolving in Africa
In many parts of Africa, there’s a widely-held sub-conscious perception that light-skinned people, especially women, are more beautiful, desirable and enjoy high levels of social acceptance.
Home to the world’s largest and fastest growing population of dark-skinned people, a strong emerging middle class, and a predominantly youthful demographic, Africa presents a huge growth market for the skin lightening products industry.
According to the World Health Organisation, 77% of Nigerian women use skin lightening products on a regular basis. They are followed by Togo with 59%; South Africa with 35%; Senegal at 27%; and Mali at 25%.
This article focuses on the four biggest categories of businesses and entrepreneurs who will benefit (or suffer) from the large and booming demand for skin lightening products and services across Africa.
7) The 3 Biggest Reasons Most People Become Entrepreneurs
I never believed I would become an entrepreneur. Growing up, I had the impression that only folks who didn’t have a university degree and couldn’t land a good job settled for entrepreneurship.
At every turn, my parents would remind me to study hard and get good grades. My dad was ecstatic when I graduated from university. He would boast to his friends that he’d become the father of a university-trained engineer.
In my opinion, there are two main categories of entrepreneurs. There are those who become entrepreneurs by chance, and others who embrace it by choice. If you ask me, the chance entrepreneurs are the lucky ones; they found the easy path.
In this article, I share a unique and interesting perspective on the 3 biggest reasons most people ‘consciously’ choose to become entrepreneurs.
6) The 3 Most Powerful Revolutions Shaking Up Africa Right Now
While the average age of the African population is 19.5 years, the average age of the continent’s political leaders – presidents, prime ministers and monarchs – is 65 years.
Contrary to popular opinion, Africa is actually a gerontocracy – a term that describes a state, society, or group governed by old people.
Young people in Africa have an untapped revolutionary leverage. Right now, they number over 700 million. By 2050, their number is expected to reach over 1.2 billion, the largest population of young people in world.
In this article, I take you through the 3 key phases of the youth revolution that is shaking up the African continent right now.
It is my belief that all of these amazing transformations will ultimately lead to a positive political revolution that will place political leadership in the hands of the continent’s youth, where it rightly belongs.
5) Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, Thank you for ‘Free Basics’ in Africa. But, We’ll Keep Our Eyes On It!
In May 2016, Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy and most populous country – became the 40th country in the world, and the 22nd in Africa, to join Facebook’s Free Basics.
Free Basics is part of Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative to bring internet access to billions of people living in the world’s developing regions.
With Free Basics, users have free access to a ‘limited edition’ of the internet; they can access services and information on selected websites – but cannot access all of the internet.
In this article, I expressed my reservations about Free Basics, and why Africa must stay vigilant and keep its eyes initiatives like these; or there could be very grave consequences if we don’t.
4) Want To Be Rich in Africa? Very Rich? You Should Read This First…
Across Africa, there is a strong trend among the youth to ‘make it’. Almost every young person on the continent, including the very poor, wants to be rich.
I love the ambition of our youth. I love our overwhelming belief in the possibility of becoming rich in our lifetime.
However, when it comes to prosperity and how wealth is acquired, it appears young people on our continent are subjected to wrong influences and ‘role models.’
Right now, Africa is transforming into a society that overwhelmingly embraces and celebrates greed, lucre (ill-gotten wealth), shady characters, and others like them.
In this article, I explore 3 very disturbing negative trends that are shifting the mindset of Africa’s young people toward the wrong side of ‘rich’. If we remain unaware of these trends, and do nothing about them, they could have very disastrous consequences for the future of our continent.
3) Donald Trump’s Victory is Good News for Africa. Here’s Why…
One of the most memorable events of 2016 was the shocking emergence of Donald J. Trump as president-elect of the United States.
Naturally, in the days and weeks following the announcement of the election results, there was a lot of dust and tension in the air, especially within the African community.
During his campaign, the African continent hardly featured at all. One of the few times he ever mentioned Africa exposed his unfamiliarity, not just with Africa, but with foreign affairs.
For some strange reason, while I despise his divisive rhetoric and certainly don’t think he’s the best choice for President of the United States, I agree with Mr. Trump’s position (or lack thereof) on Africa.
In this article, I share my thoughts on the implications of a Trump presidency for Africa, and how the continent could ultimately win.
2) The Amazing Lesson My Left Arm Has Taught Me About My Brain
Neuroplasticity. Do you know what it means?
It’s a term used to describe the ability of the brain to reshape and reorganize itself in response to new situations and changes in the environment.
Like molten plastic, the brain’s neurons can make new connections and find new pathways whenever we learn something new.
I put this theory to the test when I made the conscious move to start using my left arm more. So, I chose a simple task we all do every morning without even thinking about it; brushing our teeth.
My experience with this experiment taught me that when you make yourself a little “uncomfortable”, you’ll be amazed at the amazing transformation your brain and life will experience.
1) The 10 Types of People Who Will Never Become Successful Entrepreneurs
By a long shot, this turned out to be my most popular article of 2016.
I think one of the biggest reasons this article resonated with a lot of people is the “mirror effect”. This article presents a mirror that allows the reader to look inwards and self-diagnose the issues, challenges and roadblocks that stand on their path to entrepreneurship.
In this article, I argue that the single most important factor that determines if a business succeeds or not is the person; and not the business idea or amount of capital raised.
The article explores 10 distinct personality types who, despite their best efforts, cannot be entrepreneurs until they change the habits, attitudes, perspectives and beliefs that hold them back from success.
Like most readers, I’m sure you could identify one or several traits in these personality types that apply to your situation.
2017, here we come!
I expect the year 2017 will present lots of interesting subjects to write about.
As Africa’s economies navigate the treacherous path to economic recovery and growth, there will be strong headwinds, tough choices and great expectations.
I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts, opinions and convictions with you in the new year.
Of course, I don’t expect you will always agree with me. That way, we can have healthy debates and candid conversations that all of us can learn from.
Thank you for being a loyal reader and follower.
Let’s go, Africa!