The founder of Footprint to Africa and an investment promotion expert, Mr. Osita Oparaugo has advised entrepreneurs to shift attention from seeking investment capital only from traditional lending institutions and leverage on digital platforms such as the Marketsquare Africa, to harness complementary opportunities to start up their businesses and advance its growth.
Onerous and stringent conditions, as well as high interest rates charged by traditional lending institutions, has stalled the transformation of a majority of ideas into businesses and also hampered the growth of many small businesses in Africa.
Oparaugo gave the advice while addressing entrepreneurs on day-two of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), African Foods and Products Exhibition and Conference, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos, on 26th and 27th May, 2017, with the theme: “Unlocking Market Opportunities for Global Competitiveness.”
“Collaboration is the key to start and grow your businesses if you are limited by investment capital, rather than going cap in hand to seek finance from lending houses, get on a website like themarketsquareafrica.com and meet business-oriented people from around the globe who are ready to offer you what you need, to take your ideas or business to the next desired level,” he said.
Oparaugo urged entrepreneurs to stop limiting themselves and their businesses from possible growth, by always seeking to retain 100 per cent ownership, when it is impossible to finance a business or expansion plan 100 per cent.
“Fear and lack of business education has stopped many entrepreneurs from embracing investors, in order not to lose ownership; forgetting that without the ability to secure financing you cannot plant or grow your business,” he said.
According to him, the new Africa should be looking at collaborations and not just loans.
Oparaugo further urged prospective entrepreneurs to ensure that they research thoroughly on their business ideas before taking it out to seek for collaborative partners.
“Ideas are good, but not always guaranteed to succeed, business ideas must be able to go beyond theories on paper, through proper researches to ascertain their marketability,” he said.
Given the wave of entrepreneurial spirit pervading the continent, as a result of the youth unemployment crisis, Oparaugo noted that the population of loan-for-business seekers would soon outstrip the capacity of Development Finance Institutions that offer single digit facilities by 95 per cent.
Other speakers at the two-day event included: Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, (keynote speaker); Mr Olusegun Awolowo, CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council; Mr Kabiru Mohammed, MD, Bank of Agriculture; Mr Waheed Olagunju, Ag. MD, Bank of Industry; Mr Osita Aboloma, Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria and other distinguished Icons of industry.