Hustlers need more than money to succeed in business

Traders sell vegetables at Soko Mjinga along Naivasha - Nakuru highway. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A widely held belief is that start-up capital is the biggest handicap in business or entrepreneurship. That can be contested by existing hustlers, entrepreneurs and researchers.

Before money, comes great ideas or innovations - unique, practical solutions which address problems. Once the idea is there, money follows. It could be a loan, donation, gift or savings.

Think of President William Ruto‘s yet-to-be-launched Hustlers‘ Fund or the State‘s existing women or youth funds. Which unique ideas are lined up for funding? How will they be screened?

In a market economy, ideas compete for the attention of the customers whose collective wisdom can easily discern a good idea. We can write the best business plans, but they are all at the mercy of the market.

Beyond the great idea like M-Pesa or Zoom, or serving food inside supermarkets - is the national attitude.

You can have a great idea and money but will the customers buy your product or service?

In Africa, we have the culture of anything foreign being “good” including our names. That culture denies our enterprises a market. Recall the debate over imported potatoes and mitumba.

Unrelated business

Enterprises are driven by the market buying your product or service leading to profits and possibly ploughing it back into the business.

But often, we do not plough back the profit onto business, we often shift our money to an unrelated business. Asians are good at focusing on their core business. More importantly, beyond money is who goes into entrepreneurship.

That has been Kenya’s soft underbelly.

While in the US, we have Ivy League graduates going into entrepreneurship, we think entrepreneurship is for failures as defined by our education system.

When will top Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) students want to be entrepreneurs?

What of the working environment?

Do we celebrate entrepreneurs? Do we respect them? How often do we associate successful entrepreneurs with devil worship or corruption?

Ask entrepreneurs how many regulators visit their premises in a month. How many of these “visitors” ever advise one on how to improve their business?

When it comes to starting an enterprise, you are on your own, when it comes to profits and levies several stakeholders emerge.

Money or capital is one of the necessities but not sufficient conditions for success in entrepreneurship. Would entrepreneurs - from hustlers to captains of the industry agree with me?