Sunday, January 07, 2007

Milestone!


Today marks an important milestone in my life, today is the day that I helped an entrepreneur in West Africa get funding to start a micro-business. It was not much but, knowing that this business person will be able to fufill his dreams, just because of my conversation with an American business person is wonderful.

My hope is that in the future many more entrepreneurs in Africa receive some type of tangible benefits as a result of networking on this blog-whether it is making an important contact, finding a new partner, buying or selling products, or etc. At any rate,
just thought I'd share that with you.

Do you have a success story such as this one, please let us know.

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4 comments:

imnakoya said...

Good for you! Is that you in the pic, or the guy you helped? could you be more elaborate on what happened? You could send me a private mail if you want, I'm curious to know.

Benin "Mwangi" said...

Imnakoya, thank you my friend. That's a good question and I can appreciate it.

Since I did not get their permission to mention their names or the fine details of the transaction, I will try as much as possible to paint a clearer picture without violating anyones wishes here. Actually, I don't believe that it would be a problem for the gentleman who lives here in the States, but perhaps it could present an interesting situation for our friend in West Africa.

The fellow pictured on the post is none other than myself, by the way.
This West African entrepreneur is someone whom I have known for a long time.

He supplies materials to residential and commercial builders in West Africa. Before he had put together his business plan, he contacted me and summarized an idea that he was considering. This idea involved going around the middlemen who export their building supplies to this West African nation, by manufacturing the same product locally-albeit at a lower cost. The gentleman, we will call him Sam, has a strong level of familiarity with mechanical equipment and processes. As such, he designed his own machine for locally making these products. So by the time he had come to me, he already had a summary and several drawings or renderings of both the machine and the product that he proposed to make. Since I had already been talking with a gentleman here in the States, lets call him Mike, about the potential for doing big business in Africa it seemed like Mike might make a nice potential investor for this project. So I brought the idea to Mike's attention and he had a great deal of questions. So, I relayed these questions back to Sam in West Africa. He answered the questions and then, of course, there were more questions. It went back for forth, like this, several times until I asked Sam to put together a business plan. He put together a basic business plan and Mike reveiwed it and but he did have a few more questions. Sam considered the new questions and studied the opportunity some more, then he answered this last round of questions. Next Mike asked Sam to submit a sample of the product that he was proposing to make and send it to him here in the States. Sam did this. However, he also decided to take a chance- he found some local engineers showed them the rendering and described the functions to them and had them make the machine that he designed-but on credit. With the machine, the sample product, and the businessplan Mike felt comfortable enough to make the micro-investment. He decided to do it as a micro-investment so that he could see how that small bit of money, by American standards, would be utilized. Although the monetary amount was small, the investment will allow Sam to purchase the necessary raw materials that he will then manufacture into finished products, for sale to his customers. If Sam is able to return the amount agreed upon, then Mike would follow it up with a more substantial injection.
Imnakoya, there are many details that I left out, which I will relay to you "off-line". But I hope that this summary has answered some of your questions, as well as others who may have had the same question.

imnakoya said...

Interesting, thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is indeed a day to be marked. You have just passed on a torch and inspired others to create business links. That it is indeed something to embrace and not feared or something that is a possibility. Thank you for paying it forward.

-Kesiwaa

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