African entrepreneurs must be tech savvy to be globally competitive

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By Merit Ibe                      [email protected] Founder of Knowledge Digest Africa and Digital CEO Tribe International,  Samson Olatunde, has a track record in helping small, medium and large-scale enterprises gain momentum through information technology (IT) powered marketing.With over 15 years experience in Africa’s technology and knowledge ecosystem, Olatunde explained critical technological changes African businesses must build to become global brands.ExperienceI would describe my experience as creativity and change adaptation. Digital entrepreneurship is not a robotic mechanism; it is a combination of art and science. I am always ready to learn the art of creativity and adapt to change, as social media is evolving day by day.My experience has also made me understand that digital and traditional entrepreneurs possess the same characteristics: vision, determination, persistence and creativity. The major difference would be that a digital entrepreneur needs to be tech-savvy and more open-minded.TransitionMy Bachelors Degree in Business Administration provided an avenue to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. At Olabisi Onabajo University, I took my time to learn more about the world of business and the areas that strike a chord in me.At a point, I discovered my passion for digital entrepreneurship and how to help increase an organisation’s profit and growth through digital tools.In line with this and to increase my level of exposure, experience and education on achieving more in business, I further enrolled for a course in Entrepreneurship Development at Pan Atlantic University and started reading more about digital entrepreneurship personally as well as attending seminars and webinars.Helping business managers to scale using technology has been a bit difficult. It is all about working with people and trying to change their perceptions. I think it involves strategic marketing to enable business managers to subscribe to your ideology on the need to incorporate technological tools in the world of business. Thus, I have put on many hats to enable them to subscribe to my tech-related ideas.I would say, this was a herculean task to transit from being a student to an entrepreneur. One skill that helps in the entrepreneurial journey is resilience. There will constantly be some hurdles or roadblocks in every career dream, what makes one excel is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.Digital switchIt is highly imperative. The world is changing and all businesses must follow the digital route to survive in this 21st century. You need tech-savvy employees and  you need to create a system that automatically absorbs relevant technological concepts.To wit, when the COVID-19 pandemic happened suddenly, most businesses with no digital processes could not survive the heat. Some were out of the business; others are still struggling to survive. We need to prepare for uncertainty and the better way to do so is by leveraging digital processes in business.Attracting fundsI think it all depends on the stages in which digital businesses are. We have several fund-raising stages: pre-seed, seed and post-seed. There are usually grants and equity-free funding for digital business ventures at the pre-seed level. One of such is Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship. For businesses that have matured and carved a niche in their respective industry, they can easily go for venture capital funds, angel investors and a list of others.Funding requires more than four hours seminar. I am not sure I can talk about it all here. But I will endeavour to work with my team and organise a webinar to further educate digital entrepreneurs.Young entrepreneursUnarguably, there is a high rate of unemployment in Nigeria. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is 33.30 per cent and it is expected to increase geometrically. As such, how might we reduce unemployment through digital entrepreneurship?I think it is simple. We need to create more workshops and webinars for digital entrepreneurs to understand how to monetise their digital skills on a global scale. We need to organise more career readiness programs so digital entrepreneurs can begin to get contracts internationally whilst reducing the unemployment rate in the country.Young digital entrepreneurs can’t compete internationally without stable electricity and low internet subscription. So far, in Nigeria, there is no stable electricity and our internet access subscription seems to be the most expensive. Young digital entrepreneurs spend heavily on data and alternative power supply, which is affecting their work productivity. I believe that young digital entrepreneurs will compete internationally if all these can be solved.ChallengesChallenges are always encountered on the road to success. The more we overcome them, the better we achieve our desired goals. Of course, like every successful business individual, I have had  challenges several times.One of the major challenges why building my business is people. It sounds very funny, right? It is of course. Working with different people from diverse backgrounds seems to be challenging. People are different with distinctive personality traits. As a result, it takes strong leadership acumen to work with people without a shared world-life perspective to achieve a common goal.RecognitionI was recently appointed as an ECOWAS Ambassador, which was in recognition of my exploits in digital entrepreneurial adventure over the last 14 years.PlanIn the world of digital initiatives, I’m grateful and privileged to be ranked among the technological trailblazers in the country. I am much more concerned about the impact and how I can empower people on the African continent. I have a target to reach one million Africans; my team and I are working hard to achieve our goals.I believe that our impact would lend a voice for us in 2023. However, we are currently working on strategies to help with publicity and ensure that more African youths are aware of our offerings in the digital ecosystem.New digital platformKnowledge Digest Africa is a data bank for African businesses to expand their capabilities with the aim to help professionals draw a pool of information to generate massive market trends and bridge resilience. Everyone in this world needs refined knowledge and innovation to live and make an everlasting impact and the knowledge ecosystem platform aims to educate and inspire business leaders and youths on the shore of Africa.Knowledge Digest Africa is an online learning platform that has different pillars which is called the 5M’s- Mandate, Masterclass, Mentoring session, Marketplace, Membership subscription, conferences and so on. Knowledge Digest Africa mandate is a one-stop digital knowledge bank platform that seeks to educate and empower one million African business leaders and enrich professionals with substantial and up-to-date careers in entrepreneurship and technology know-how for wealth creation.The masterclass pillar of the platform is to show many Africans practical wealth creation ideas, opportunities and skills that exist online and offline. The Mentoring series is more of an exclusive weekly interview with captains of different industries who have done over 10 years in the business ecosystem. The uniqueness of the knowledge Digest Africa is the digital Marketplace where lots of African writers can sell their knowledge products like e-books, podcasts, online courses and others.Knowledge Digest Africa platform has an array of online meet-ups, conferences and many benefits for those who sign up for membership to be part of Africa’s community of digital savvy professionals. For stakeholders present, there is a need for disseminating knowledge on entrepreneurship, technology and business solutions so that young ones can read resource materials at their own pace.DeterminationThere are more to venture into in the world of technology. I am highly committed to exploring new areas through Digital CEO Tribe and the Knowledge Digest Africa. I thus co-created Digital CEO Tribe, a continent-wide digital community, to educate and empower one million digital-savvy professionals by 2023.As an impact-driven entrepreneur, I desire to make a huge impact on the African continent. I am dedicated to promoting youth empowerment and employability for development in Africa, using Knowledge Digest Africa as the driver. I became a successful entrepreneur at the age of 24 and I can’t wait to breed African youth who would be better than me.We need to equip young and vibrant African youth with digital and entrepreneurial mindsets. I am set, fully prepared to champion the movement.What would you have done differentlyThank you for this interesting question. What I would have done differently would be to have started earlier than I did. I think I delved into digital entrepreneurship at the age of 22. Perhaps, my story would have been more fantastic if I started at the age of 14 or 16.I remember Pleasant The Alpha (his Facebook name), a 16-year tech expert, who is currently a millionaire. He started earlier and has built many tech-focused businesses. Seeing his track record, I wish I had started earlier.



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