This article reveals twelve interesting reasons to start an online business in Africa. Online is surely the way to go for smart Africans.
Just to be very clear, an internet (or online) business creates value for people and is beneficial to everyone. It’s totally a legit business opportunity that doesn’t involve clever tactics to steal money from people.
Creating a successful online business involves using your knowledge, passions, creativity and the amazing power of the internet to change your life beyond what is currently possible.
Among all the other business options you may be considering to earn more money and be financially free, creating a successful internet business is one of your best chances to achieve your objectives.
Let’s find out why…
1. Africa is riding the wave of an internet boom
According to the Internet World Statistics, there were less than 5 million Africans who had used the internet by December 2000. By June 2012, the number was over 160 million!
With its overwhelmingly young population, Africans are swarming to the internet for numerous reasons.
At the top of the list is a hunger for information and interaction. As a result, blogs, information websites, forums and social media sites are among the most popular on the menu.
On top of this, there is a growing trend of online shopping which is fast gaining ground on the continent. Convenience, privacy, ease and mobility are the key selling points of the internet platform.
However, in spite of the rising penetration of the internet, less than one person in every 100,000 Africans has a blog or website. Contrast this figure with a 90 in 100,000 world average and we begin to see the upside to the vast opportunity on the internet for Africans.
Africans make up about 15 percent of the world’s total population but provide less than one percent of the knowledge and information content online. There is a gaping lack of original and relevant African content! Internet content providers, especially bloggers, have a lot to gain by sharing their personal experiences, passions, knowledge, hobbies and problem and make some decent money in return.
2. No cartels or cabals can corner this market.
It’s difficult to enter or start a business in some African markets because of the strong grip of powerful and well-connected cartels. This is very evident in oil and gas, cement, shipping and many other business sectors.
As a result, ‘ordinary’ people like you and I cannot aspire to enter and succeed in such markets.
It’s only a matter of time before you’re pushed out. You will need to rub shoulders with the top shots in society and government to have any chance of success in these markets.
On the internet, it’s a totally different deal. Only merit and top quality can corner and dominate the online market; nothing else! If people do not see the value in the online business you’re offering, you’ll fail.
No political or social connections, royal links or military power can change that outcome. As a result, anyone (and we mean ANYONE) can aspire and dominate the internet. We’re seeing evidence of this as 14-year olds become millionaires from developing mobile apps and these bloggers who are earning huge incomes while still in their pyjamas.
3. Goodbye to red tape and government frustration
Anyone who has any experience starting a physical business in most African countries can relate to this point very well. Depending on the business sector you’re targeting, starting up can be hell. Even hawkers on the street and roadside traders are constantly tormented by the illegal ‘taxes’ they have to pay to certain questionable authorities.
There are all sorts of levies and permits to different local and federal government offices and agencies. There are also the notoriously corrupt customs/border officials, police officers and government offices that can make you go red in the face with frustration.
On the internet, it’s you and your business. The only institution you may ever have to deal with are the banks; these are not government owned and are thankfully credible. With an online business, you may choose to do business in your name and there’s really no need to register with the authorities. Your business is isolated from the hands of government offices and their representatives.
However, you must remember to pay your tax. You would be breaking the law if you don’t.
4. A lifetime of salary income and the best pension plan you will ever have
A lot of people put in the most energetic and creative time of their lives working from paycheck to paycheck. Most guys can’t even boast of any savings after many years of hardwork. You get old, tired and sick. The paychecks obviously stop coming and then what? Pension? Tell me about it…
A couple of recent pension fund scams in my country, Nigeria, have opened my eyes to the illusion of waiting for a ‘guaranteed’ pension. Africans will need to wake up from this naivety. #
How can we talk about ‘guaranteed’ pensions when governance is so poor and the institutions that are meant to safeguard our old-age salaries are weak and deeply corrupt? What has happened to those who stole from pension funds?
If you insist on keeping your job, an internet business is a good way to insure yourself from the risk of an uncertain pension. It’s an alternative to a future that doesn’t force you to take to the pension board office in protest against your missing pension.
Remember, at that time, your legs may not be strong enough to carry you and your voice may not be loud enough to be heard. If history is anything to go by, most of the people who have been involved in pension scams only get a slap on the wrist, nothing more!
An internet business, if grown to be successful, can generate you a lifetime of income. It’s like a piece of real estate that earns you rental income. If you get it right, you may be able to wean yourself away from a desperate lifestyle that’s dependent on a finite salary.
Above all, you can apply the creativity and strength of your youth to create something that will take care of you in the ‘pension’ years.
5. Good riddance to low-paying jobs and horrible bosses!
Labour in many African countries is an employer’s market. The continent is made up of a massive unemployment pool overflowing with all kinds of skilled and unskilled labour. As a result, labour is very cheap and employers are getting away with paying peanuts as salaries.
Why shouldn’t they?
If they are in business to make as much profit as they can, they can always pay very low wages to achieve this objective. Besides, the legal minimum monthly wage in many African countries hovers around $100. What gives?
In addition to poor pay, many jobs have terrible work conditions and horrible bosses who can scare the devil to his grave. Most people don’t and won’t complain because they’re happy enough to just have a job. They’re afraid of the many others out there ready to grab it if they let go. Do you really have to live like this?
An online business lets you be your own boss and determine how much and when you want to get paid. If you’re not earning enough, it’s because you’re not ready to. You can earn as high an income as you want if you give your online business the hardwork, creativity and commitment it deserves.
6. A business that fits into your pocket
Nobody wishes for conflict, war or any form of political or social instability. But if our recent history is anything to go by, most African countries are easily prone to events that can seriously shake up the business landscape.
People wake up in the morning to find their businesses and jobs no longer exist. This could be because of a stupid government policy, a breakout of violence or a natural disaster.
Whatever the risk, there is still a lot to lose by having all of your business in one place. Should any of these unfortunate events happen, an internet business gives you the rare opportunity to just pack a couple of things and WALK AWAY. You could resume your business operations as soon as you find the next computer that’s hooked up to the internet!
If you want to live the life of business and travel, an internet business is what you need. You can travel around the world and still work from wherever you are. It’s simply more than work… it’s a lifestyle business!
7. No need for high-sounding titles and paper certificates
One of the greatest barriers to excellence in Africa is the supremacy we have given to titles and paper certificates. Chief, Alhaji, PhD, MSc, BSc and a whole lot of other titles largely determine who gets employment or a business deal. While many of these titles may have been obtained through dishonorable means, they can play a huge role in how far you can get in our society. But not anymore…
We now see CEOs of billion-dollar corporations (like Facebook) rising out of university dorm rooms. There are bloggers who were nobody but now get the ears of the international community. There are lots of people with little or no formal education who are thinking up great ideas and are using the amazing power of the internet to do very incredible things.
What qualifications do you need to build a successful internet business? Zilch! Nothing! All you need is a thinking and creative mind, a willingness to learn, a deep thirst for success and a lot of hardwork. That’s it. No university degree or anything like that. No social or religious titles are needed to harness the power of the internet to change your destiny.
8. Your future is in your hands
It’s easy to blame the government for inadequate employment opportunities, the unfavourable business climate, poor access to startup capital and a failing economy. The government is responsible for all these; not you.
Let’s just imagine for a moment that you could do one thing for yourself that the government could not influence and will not be responsible for. Would you still end up in your blame game?
A lot of people lack the vision or ambition to change their lives. As long as there’s somebody or something to blame, they are able to justify their poor finances and poor achievements to themselves. This is the real reason why many people are likely to remain poor.
If you’re confident enough to take personal responsibility for your future, an internet business is exactly what you need. Just like in life, those who make it online are people who want it bad enough. They have a burning passion to write their own destinies rather than entrust it to someone else.
If you’re still using your job, the government or your poor background as excuses for your financial state, you’re lying to yourself!
9. Low risk, high return. Cheap to start, easy to run.
The likely thing you’ll do to raise capital for a new business is to convince friends and family or the banks for a quick loan (if they’ll even listen to you at all). On top of the money you’ve raised, you may have to register a business name, get a physical office or shop, hire some staff and then find customers for your business so you can make the money it needs to survive.
‘Nine out of ten businesses close shop in their first few years of existence.’ Ever heard this statistic before? Failure’s not entirely a bad thing but the cost of failing in a ‘physical’ business is huge.
And we believe the cost of failure is the main reason why entrepreneurs are too scared to start a business or don’t try again after they have failed. The burden of letting down your investors (friends and family) can sometimes be overwhelming.
What if you didn’t need to meet friends and family for capital? What if you don’t need a physical office or shop, any registration or hire any staff? That’s exactly what the internet offers. You could get a blog running in less than 6 hours with less than $100 startup capital.
That’s because the kind of capital you need to succeed online isn’t money. It’s dedication, hardwork, passion, patience and determination. The returns that are possible online are shocking compared to the risks involved. And what’s the worst thing that can happen if your blog fails? You start again, and no one may even know about it!
10. A place where hardwork is always rewarded and merit is king
Many of us have lost faith in the system because hardwork hardly ever pays and the dignity of decent labour is fast getting out of fashion. To get a job nowadays, you need to know someone at the top, or know someone who knows someone.
Those guys who have the right knowledge and skills are likely to end up in poor jobs while the well-connected guys snap up the juicy offers. We have deliberately sacrificed excellence and merit on the altar of selfishness. It has become unfair to level the field and play by the rules.
What if you could do something about this? On the internet, your political and social connections will only get you so far. Because no single person controls the online market, the only thing that always stands out is merit.
Those who have valuable knowledge, skills and creativity are rewarded. Those who have anything less than this are hardly noticed. The internet levels the field and rewards only those who have worked to build value that helps other people.
If you feel you’re not adequately compensated for the value you bring to your job, starting something on the internet would be a great idea. If you believe you’re more creative, skillful and knowledgeable than more people would admit, you should start something online. There’s a whole world of people waiting to see what you have on offer.
11. An opportunity to become an international citizen
Many of the successful people in my country are local champions. Why? Because they’re hardly known beyond Nigeria’s borders. Many of us become too comfortable being the big fish in a small pond. Many people live their lives without a dent on the world. As the world becomes a smaller place through the internet, little actions from remote parts of Africa can have a lasting effect on the rest of the world.
I am convinced, like you are, that there’s a whole body of knowledge and skills we have that would amaze, inspire and teach other people on the other side of the world. What are you doing about it?
Why play local when you can be international?
Get your opinions out there on your blog. Create a buzz. Project yourself on the world stage. It’s all in your head… think!
A tiny blog or website created in a poor village anywhere in Africa can be accessed by the whole world! Imagine the power that gives you. On the other hand, a 100-acre shopping mall in the city owned by a millionaire businessman who knows nothing about the internet is a local champion.
You, the poor guy with a tiny blog, have more power than Mr. Millionaire. You can inspire and make friends around the world that he cannot afford. Think about that for a minute…
12. The most flexible work hours in the world!
Do I really need to talk about this again?! Well, this is very likely to be the thing most people miss in their lives. They can hardly find enough time to spend with their family and watch their kids grow up because there’s a job they need to show up at. Both spouses have to work nowadays to pay the bills and save up for the future. It’s a rat race.
Internet business owners, like bloggers, and the rest of the pack determine when, where and how they want to work. You could work off your phone sometimes or work yourself off all night while you catch some sleep in the morning.
Nobody who has to show up at 9AM in the morning and sit his butt down all day at someone else’s business can do this.
That’s the amazing flexibility and power the internet gives you to control your life and everything around it.
13. Why fit in when you can stand out?
Almost everyone complains of a lack of opportunities these days. Have you tried to learn how to start a blog or website and the things you can do make it successful? Do you have to be part of the crowd that keeps staring at the problems rather than think of profitable ways to solve it?
Are you a ‘doer’ or a ‘blamer’. Why join the millions of people who are wasting their destinies away when you can do something to realize yours right now?
There are bloggers who are making an amazing income online. Don’t just take our world for it, SEE for yourself!
There’s no use fitting in when you can always stand out. Join the internet revolution… it’s what a smart African should do!
We shall continue to update this list as more reasons come to light. If you’re excited about exploiting the opportunities the internet has to offer, take the time to read this great article: How to make money online – the open secrets many Africans do not yet know to get started…