Zambian Entrepreneur

Zambian Entrepreneur does not just match entrepreneurs and investors together – we lend our expertise and foster communication amongst the general public. We’re passionate about one thing: helping Zambian businesses succeed.

Knowing Your Customer (part 1)

It may seem obvious to say that every business, however small, should take time to identify its marketplace, its customer types and what benefits these customers are looking for. It is the basic question of who is my customer? Understanding your customers means understanding their reasons for buying your product/service. It is critical to identify the group of people with

  1. The greatest need for the product/service AND
  2. The willingness to purchase the product/service.

For the small business, this does not have to be complicated, it could be as simple as surveying your customers and asking them questions. However please ensure the sample size of your market research is big enough to form conclusive data (asking your 2 siblings and your mother about your idea is not market research)…

For the past one year, Dot Com Zambia has been developing an electronic bus ticketing system, where the general public can book and pay for their intercity and intercountry bus tickets electronically without the need to go to the station. I came up with this idea last year in September, when I could no longer contain my frustrations with bus travel within Zambia. I wanted to travel from Lusaka to Nakonde and securing a bus ticket was a nightmare. I had to go to Intercity Station twice on two consecutive days to purchase my ticket, Now the distance from Olympia Park to Intercity Bus Terminal in Lusaka  is not that far, but on both occasions , it took me just less than 3 hours to go the station and back because of Lusaka traffic,  finding parking once at the station, dealing with the illegal parking attendants, dealing with the ticket attendants and then the joy of being harassed by every call boy and taxi driver as I walked in and out of the station.

I knew in my heart that they must be a better way and I could not be the lone person with that view.  But the challenge we entrepreneurs face is being so in love with our ideas that we cannot see its shortfalls or why it may not be a good idea. So the process of turning this idea into a business began. I started discussing this idea with my mentor, our bankers, and bus company owners. Then myself and my staff started to do the necessary market research, in our case it was random interviews with over 100 people, the majority of whom have travelled by inter city bus in one form or another.  The Market research conducted among the  bus travelers validate my views.

  • 90% of customers stated that they were not happy with the current method of buying bus tickets in Zambia
  • 100% responding they would be happy if they were given alternative ways to purchase bus tickets and that they would be willing to pay a premium for the convenience of K5 to K10.
  • When asked what the bus companies could do better, many of the same themes prevailed including improving their services by operating on time, shielding the clients from the harassment of conductors and call boys and allowing tickets to be purchased in advance.

 

When we thought about Bus Tickets Zambia, we initially built it as an online model at http://www.busticketszambia.com, but in conducting our market research, we realized the scope of our work had to be bigger as, not all clients would book their tickets online, so we needed to increase the booking scope by adding the ability to book via smartphone through a public computer terminal, at authorized paypoints and at supermarkets.

This may all seem simple, but, you’d be surprised how few businesses feel that they have the time or resources to really research this thoroughly. I have been coming across many business and start-ups who know very little about what their customers want. I call it business by instinct. While a few may succeed with this approach, many fail and the answer is simple, it’s because they have not taken the time to know their customers. In addition, we the consumers in Zambia may have to take some of the blame by not demanding better from the businesses that serve us and accepting inferior service, quality or the status quo.

The businesses that win are the ones that know who their customers are, what their customers want and can provide those goods/services effectively……

 

(End of Part 1)

 

You can find out more about Bus Tickets Zambia via the following link and video:

 

http://www.techtrends.co.zm/start-ups/buy-bus-tickets-online-busticketszambia-com-courtesy-dotcom-zambia

 

About the Author: Mk TD

Mawano Kambeu is an entrepreneur, IT, Investment and Finance Specialist. He is currently the Managing Director of  Dot Com Zambia (www.dczambia.com), an IT company specializing in e-commerce. Mawano is a big advocate of entrepreneurship in Zambia and as such is the founder of Zambian Entrepreneur and Trustee of the Lusaka Chapter of Awesome Foundation (An organization that provides monthly grants of $650 to entrepreneurs)

Zambian Entrepreneur Advisory Board Member: Available for Speaking Engagements

Mawano Kambeu has been with Prudential Financial for over 9 years holding positions in operations, investment sales and investment management.  Mawano is currently a Manager of Investment Sales and Marketing at Prudential Financial.

Education:

Mawano received his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southern CT State University and holds an MBA in Finance from Fairfield University. His home town is Kitwe, Zambia, and he completed his IGCSEs and A-Levels at Lechwe School.

Entrepreneurship

Mawano Kambeu is the founder and Managing Director of Dot Com Zambia LLC (www.dczambia.com). Established in 2006, Dot Com Zambia is establishing itself as a leading online retailer in Zambia through its importing service, online store and online auctions. The company is located in Derby, Connecticut, USA with an office in Lusaka, Zambia.Mawano owns and manages rental property in Connecticut, USA. He is also the founder of a start-up company called Zed Football Millionaire (www.zedfootballmillionaire.com), a sports entertainment company with a global presence that specializes in online football competitions, football related event management and corporate marketing.

Zambian Entrepreneur                 

Zambian Entrepreneur (www.zambianentrepreneur.com) is an online organization that Mawano created and now sponsors (through Dot Com Zambia) to provide education and resources to entrepreneurs in Zambia. Mawano is a strong advocate of small business as holding the keys to economic development in Zambia. Much of the content for Zambian Entrepreneur is provided by the online community, but Mawano’s role, which is voluntary, involves writing articles on various topics related to investments and business management. He also reviews select business proposals, providing some strategic analysis and guidance on valuations, capital budgeting and other areas.

Public Speaking and Corporate Training

Mawano is an experienced public speaker and corporate trainer, his specialties include: salesmanship, personal investing/financial planning, entrepreneurship and business strategy. As well as select topics in investment management, corporate finance, motivation, career development and team building.

Mawano Kambeu will be in Zambia from November 12 to November 23 and is available for select public speaking engagements at schools and companies.

For Learning Institutes, Mawano is available to come speak for an hour or less on the following topics.

  • Business lectures: for Business Students on investments, finance, business strategy and entrepreneurship
  • Career Lectures: for the general student body that could include studying in the U.S.A, a career as an investment professional and entrepreneur, or a motivational lecture on overcoming challenges

For Corporate Trainings and Presentations, Please contact Mawano directly for availability and proposed topics

Contact Information

Mawano has limited availability during his trip, so book him today for a public speaking engagement:

You may e-mail him directly at Mawano.Kambeu@dczambia.com to schedule an engagement.

Terms and Conditions

All speaking engagements are done at no charge, Mawano’s philosophy is simple.

“I am more than happy to do what I can at any time to help guide someone in the right direction and to share the skills and knowledge I have acquired over time, but know going into any engagement with me, that I am working with you at a PRICE, which is simply this:  At some point in your future, it is going to be your turn to help someone coming up behind you, just like someone helped me,  and my expectation is that if I help you, you in turn will do whatever you can to extend the favor to someone else — no questions asked.”

For corporations, as has been Mawano’s policy, a donation, in an amount decided by the company, needs to be made to a charity on his behalf.

Media References:

Youtube Video 1:  “Three Strategies that I Used to Build my Business” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgDiabD5qc8

Youtube Video 2:  “Effective Presentation Skills Two Minute Challenge” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfSxUlPzH3c

Blog Article (WordPress):  “My Tragic Moment of Despair as an Entrepreneur”https://zambianentrepreneur.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/my-tragic-moment-of-despair-as-an-entrepreneur-by-mawano-kambeu/

Why You Should be in Sales and The 7 Traits of the Great (by Mawano Kambeu)

Chapter 1: WHY SHOULD YOU BE IN SALES?

So it has been a great week at Dot Com Zambia. After months of work, we finally launched our new and improved website, www.dczambia.com. But I cannot take sole credit; I have to acknowledge the very talented group of individuals behind the scenes that put in an extraordinary amount of work to develop a website that I believe will be a game changer to the online shopping industry in Zambia. I would love to use this blog to show off all the new capabilities of the new website, but seeing is believing. Therefore I would strongly urge you to go to www.dczambia.com and see for yourself. And I will use this blog for its primary purpose and that is sharing ideas and best practices.

In creating the new website for Dot Com Zambia, I was inspired by what I call the Amazon and eBay millionaires. These are individuals that make a lot of money selling their products on Amazon and eBay as third parties.  So part of my objective with the new website was to create a platform where individuals (and businesses) could use our platform to partner with us and make money with us. However, that requires going out there and selling and that seems to be problematic for most people for a variety of reasons.

Now I understand that there are some very bad and exploitative sales jobs out there, those are the sales job that should be avoided. But keep in mind that the ability to sell is one of the most critical business skills that you can acquire. If you are a small business owner then you need to be able acquire new clients to start making money, if you are looking for capital for your business, you need to be able to persuade investors to invest, which is still selling. Therefore, sales should be a career that should be embraced. There are several reasons why you should choose a career in sales. Here are just a few.

The Money!

There are very few careers that offer the income potential that sales careers offer. While not all sales careers offer unlimited income potential, many do. In sales, your income is based on your performance. There will be quotas and activity expectations, but there are also rewards. Performance rewards come in the form of commission checks, quarterly and annual bonuses, trips, prizes and a slew of other incentives. Those who hire sales professionals hire them to increase their revenues. Without sales, their doors will soon be closed. You should know that employers (including myself) are willing to do whatever it takes to get their sales team motivated to improve their sales. That motivation usually comes in the form of income, meaning a sales person can write their own ticket. Consider this example, if you work for me as a sales person and you generate K500,000,000 a year in revenue for my company.  How much do you want me to pay you? Guess what, if the numbers makes financial sense, I will pay you whatever you want (within reason of course) and do whatever I can to keep you at the company and happy. That is power!!!

Flexibility

Many outside sales positions come with the benefit of a flexible schedule, as long as specified activity and training levels are met. For the sales professional who doesn’t abuse this freedom, the resulting rewards are tremendous. If you were to offer a successful sales person a full-time desk job, you’d probably have your offer rejected. Why? Once you’ve enjoyed the freedom of setting your own daily schedule, it is very hard to do any job that has the time and “location” expectations that most office or desk jobs demands.

Job Security

I get a lot of messages from people asking if I have any jobs available. And I always ask every person, what value can you add to my company? Typically that question is always followed by silence and I never hear from the person again. The more valuable you make yourself to your employer, the less likely you are to be fired, replaced or be the victim of a “reduction in force.” If the economy turns, or a business is not doing well, or the minimum wage in Zambia is increased and certain business decide to cut back on employees, your value decreases significantly. The difference is that successful sales people are usually the last to be cut. Why? Cutting sales means cutting incoming revenue which is not a good plan for a business looking to remain viable. If you are good in sales, you have tremendous market value.

The Thrill

People like to win and to feel as if their work makes a difference. There is nothing like the feeling of closing a big deal that not only puts a substantial bonus in your wallet, but also helps secure the jobs of support and admin staff.

Chapter 2: THE 7 TRAITS OF THE GREAT

At the end of 2007, I was broke and in a financial situation that I would describe as just getting by. In 2008, I took on my first sales job as a sales representative for an investment company; this was the job that changed my life. But it was not easy, I had to work very very hard and go through of all kinds of hell. I was put in a developing area, meaning sales were low. This meant I received a list of potential clients and I had to go out build relationships with them from scratch. By the end of 2008, I made $32 million dollars for my company, but please note I did not make hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission, but I did earn 3 times the amount I made in 2007, which allowed me to buy my first home, pay for my MBA and start Dot Com Zambia.

Many people think being a sales person requires no skills, as long as you are a good talker and have connections, you will be good at sales. While some people have natural ability, being a great sales person requires a lot of work and development (and education is required if you are in a technical field). No matter how much natural ability you have, there is always room for development. For example, watch this video of me that was taken earlier in the year, I was working with a sales coach, who was helping me improve my sales presentation skills. Why did I work with coach? Simple I wanted to better myself.

So to become a top sales person, there are 7 characteristics (traits) I needed to have or work on to build my clientele and kick start my career.  I used those same traits to develop Dot Com Zambia as well as get investors for my real estate business. In addition, they are the same traits I will use to build my new project, Zed Football Millionaire.

Here are my 7 “Traits of the Great” that all good sales people need to exhibit and develop.

  1. Time Management – How much time do you spend working?  Do you have effective time management? Do you make time to build relationship and time to work on your sales skills?
  2. Hardwork – Activity x Frequency = Results.  The more people you meet, the more people you call, the more e-mails you send, the greater the result. Bottom line, you have to put in the work
  3. Messaging – The skill set to deliver a clear crisp and effective message. When you talk to clients what do you tell them about your business and services? What solutions do you provide, what is the value proposition of your business and more importantly what is in it for the client?
  4. Ability to Close – Turning the message into a sale, whenever a clients talks to you about a product, there is always a chance for a sale, how do you turn that conversation or request into a sale. How do you handle objections? How do you ask for a referral?
  5. Develop and Become a Brand- What is your brand? What’s makes you as an individual different? What is your value proposition as individual?  What makes your clients keep buying from you?
  6. Ability to Leverage Resources – Do you use all the materials that you have at your disposal, even if they are limited? This could include having a mentor, sales coach or getting feedback from your manager.
  7. Mastering Client Segmentation – Who do you target? Where do you go? Who do you see?

And there you have it, so for people looking for jobs, finding a great sales job should be top of your list especially if money is important to you. Sales people bring in the money, the accountants count the money!! Typically in an organization, outside of the executives, the highest paid employees are the ones who generate revenue, which are the sales people. Not to mention, the flexibility, job security and thrill that comes with a sales position.

And if there are readers who are interested in a career in sales at Dot Com Zambia, then join us. Go to www.dczambia.com and read the document entitled “Make Money with Us” (which I have also attached below) and then reach out me, but make sure you articulate how you can add value to the company. And in return I will promise you one thing, and that is OPPORTUNITY. The opportunity to make money (however you define that), the opportunity to work with me and let me develop you, in the same manner that my former managers developed me. The opportunity to aim big, reach for the stars and the opportunity to become great!!

Happy Selling!!!

References: Why Choose a Career in Sales? By Thomas Phelps

 (Click here to open PDF)

Make Money With Dot Com Zambia

About Myself

I am currently an Investment Manager for one of the largest financial companies in the world and prior to that I worked as a Sales Director, wholesaling investments to Wall Street stockbrokers. I have a degree in Marketing from Southern Connecticut State University and an MBA in Finance from Fairfield University.  If you need to get a hold of me or have any questions for me, feel free, I am on facebook or you can e-mail me at mawano.kambeu@dczambia.com

As an entrepreneur I have three businesses: The biggest and oldest company is Dot Com Zambia (www.dczambia.com),  where we allow people in Zambia to shop and make online purchases through our company . The Milestone Group – a company that owns and manages rental properties in the U.S . And then recently I created a new company called Zed Football Millionaire (www.zedfootballmillionaire), a sports entertainment company that specializes in online EPL and Zambia Super League competitions.

Mawano Kambeu Presentation Skills: 3 Strategies I Used to Build My Business

Public speaking effectively is one of the most difficult things to do, not to mention frightening for most people. Last week I had an opportunity to work with renowned public speaking coach,  Jimmy Pomerance aka Jimmy P.  I am always looking for ways to improve my skill set. In this case my ability to be an effective presenter.

In this first presentation, I had an opportunity to talk about my small business, Dot Com Zambia and 3 strategies that are allowing me to be a successful small business owner.

This second presentation tested just how well I could implement the tools that Jimmy taught me. Speaking about a topic that you are an expert in  is relatively easy,  but what happens when you are asked to present with no time to prepare. I think I did a pretty decent job, but you be the judge.


About Myself

I am currently an Investment Manager for one of the largest financial companies in the world and prior to that I worked as a Sales Director, wholesaling investments to Wall Street stockbrokers. I have a degree in Marketing from Southern Connecticut State University and an MBA in Finance from Fairfield University.

As an entrepreneur I have three businesses:

The biggest and oldest company is Dot Com Zambia (www.importzambia.com), where we allow people in Zambia to shop and make online purchases through our company because they don’t have credit cards or the online stores around the world don’t ship to Zambia.  The value we provide to our clients is the choice of products that shopping online offers, our price and the fact that we can deliver their purchased items from the U.S to Zambia in 3 to 5 business days.

Milestone Properties – a company that owns and manages rental properties in the U.S

And then recently I created a new company called Zed Football Millionaire (www.zedfootballmillionaire), a sports entertainment company that specializes in online EPL and Zambia Super League competitions, where our fans can interact and win great prizes from our sponsors and/or cash! Infact, the company was created at the end of February and we already have 8000 fans on Facebook (www.facebook.com/zedfootballmillionaire).

Employment Opportunities At Zed Football Millionaire (5 Openings)

Overview

Zed Football Millionaire is a start-up sports entertainment company that specializes in online fantasy football competitions, as well as football related event management and promotions for its members around the world. The firm, through its website and Facebook fan page also serves as a social networking company, bringing people together, virtually and physically, that have a common love of football.

www.zedfootballmillionaire.com                     (Official Site)

www.facebook.com/zedfootballmillionaire     (Facebook Fan Page)

                                                                                          www.youtube.com/user/Zedfootball               (Official Youtube Media Station)

 

Zed Football Millionaire has the following open positions:

1) Regional Sales and Marketing Directors in the following regions: Northern Zambia (Candidate must be based on the Copperbelt), Southern Zambia (Candidate must be based in Lusaka), Europe (Candidate must be based in the UK) and Australia. Please click the link below for the full job description:

Zed Football Millionaire Regional Sales Director Job Description

2) Host: Zed Football Millionaire Preview Show. Zed Football Millionaire is hiring a host for its weekly preview show that will air on Zambian radio and the internet for international listeners. Please click the link below for the full job description:

Zed Football Millionaire Preview Show Host Job Description

Pilot episode of the preview show for reference purposes


Posting date: April 20, 2012

This company was proudly created through Zambian Entrepreneur (www.zambianentrepreneur.com). Helping build the Zambian Businesses of tomorrow. 

My Tragic Moments of Despair as an Entrepreneur ( by Mawano Kambeu)

My name is Mawano Kambeu and I am what you call a serial entrepreneur, I love building businesses, and I am always looking for that next big opportunity, especially in Zambia, which is one of the reasons I became involved with Zambian Entrepreneur. I hope  I can use my business contacts and my experience to find and mentor driven and talented individuals capable of building great businesses (and hopefully make me and other investors a lot of money in the process). But it has taken me over 10 long years to build my  own businesses to where they are today.  I literally had to start from the very bottom, with nothing and had to endure numerous setbacks and failures along the way. So today I share with you one of my moments of disappointment, which is a rite of passage, that all entrepreneurs have to go through. 

This is my story!!

“The young are liberal and think they can change the world but as one gets older they realize the reality of life and become conservative”

I love this quote and for good reason, When I was 18, I thought I would change the world, ok maybe not the world, but definitely change Zambia. As you can see by reading this newspaper interview from 2001, I was young, talented, knew how to make money and I was very ambitious. When people would say the youth are the future of Zambia, I felt like I was one of those youths that they were talking about. (click on the link below to read the article).

Mawano Kambeu Zambia Daily Mail Interview Jan 2001

I always considered myself a blessed individual, As a child, I spent my early childhood in the UK and through various fortunate events, I was able to go to Lechwe School, a private school in Kitwe, on scholarship and receive a better than average education. But like many young people at the time in Zambia I ran into trouble after secondary school. The University of Zambia was always closing down meaning they were behind in their enrollment by several years. Everybody was pursuing accounting at the time, which was a career I did not want. I even tried looking for work to no avail. Let me just say this was my first real moment of bitterness at the system in Zambia. I had so much potential and so much talent, yet I had no opportunity to make anything of myself because I had no relatives in positions of power. However unlike most people, I had another option moving to the U.S. But this meant leaving my home and my family to seek greener pastures on foreign soil. So this particular youth, who was supposed to be the future of Zambia, had to leave and one can only question how many more have done the same?

I moved to the U.S in 2002 with one back pack and a horribly preconceived notion, probably generated by the RnB and Hip Hop music videos of the 90s, about the ease of which I would attain the American Dream or the cream as the Notorious BIG would call it. Like many people in Zambia, I thought money grew on trees and everybody lived like Diddy and so would I. However the U.S is not as glamorous or as easy as it looks on TV and there is nothing cool or fun about living in the hood.

So in reality, I moved to the U.S with very little money, no education, no skills and no home, in fact I spent my first two years living out of a suitcase and sleeping on various couches.  But I persevered and worked my ass off, working 18 hour days at one point which included trying to build my business and get an education. And I had to be disciplined and make a lot of personal sacrifices like never drinking or going partying on the weekends. Let’s just say drinking has a way of making you forget about the hardships that you are going through. But the hardships are still there on Monday, and I did not want to forget about my troubles , learn to live with them or accept my life at the time as the status quo, I wanted to deal with my situation head on and create a better life for myself by putting my destiny in my own hands, which was the reason I formally started my business in 2003, plus I love the challenge of pushing myself and building something out of nothing.

Four years later in 2007, there came a period when I was very very very close to taking my business to the next level. The opportunity epitomized years of hard work and “suffering in silence” that every small business owner has to endure. My dream was crushed in the worst possible way. My first business focused on entertainment, because of my love of music and the arts. Around 2007, I was managing musicians and taking on various other projects and slowly picking up a good reputation for my work ethic and creativity. I had three opportunities to land major business deals that would have changed my life and taken me and my business to the next level.

The first was the collapse of a record deal between Zambian music superstar, JK, who I was managing at the time, and EMI music, a major label. Every Zambian has an opinion about JK, but regardless of what you may think of the man and his music, he is one of the most ambitious and hardworking people that I know, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Working with him opened up a lot of door ways for me in the music business and it was clear that JK was very talented. During my tenure as his manager, the likes of Akon, Bad Boys, Def Jam, Atlantic Records at one point discussed JK with me and listened to his demos. And I am so proud of what he has achieved today, especially after the disappointment of this major deal falling through. (Infact, this is the demo that we created  in 2006 which I presented to numerous companies).


The next deal to fall through was a deal that I was facilitating  for a group of South African entertainment companies and their sponsors who wanted to bring Kanye West to South Africa, for the first time, for a series of concerts. This was a multi-million dollar deal , however the management team for Kanye West accepted an offer from another entertainment company, meaning I lost thousands of dollars  in potential  commissions and an opportunity to really make a name for myself.

After the first two deal collapsed, I was very disappointed, but soldiered on, knowing better days were to come. The third and final opportunity for me occurred when the biggest wireless communication company in Zambia, Celtel, sponsored a television show called “Star Search” (A format very similar to American Idol). The company had promised the nation that they would create an international superstar and spare no expense. They needed an entertainment manager, preferably one with Zambian roots, with international connections to manage the post show process and they put up a $1 million dollar budget. Apparently, there were not too many people in the world who met the criteria. Everyone they spoke with about the project, recommended me and my company as I was already managing the international  career of  JK at the time and I had the business contacts both in the U.S and Africa. So I flew out to Zambia to meet with the marketing executives of Celtel.

I was 24, at the time, and this was the moment and deal that was about to change my life. I had not slept properly in weeks and my blood boiled every time I thought about the opportunity and pictured what was to be. In my heart, I truly thought it was my time. I humbled myself during the presentation and prayed several times prior to the meeting. I gave what I thought was the business pitch of my life. However I did not get the contract. My contacts, who worked on other aspects of the project, said that the marketing executives were not comfortable putting a million dollar budget in the hands of a “Mwaiche” (child). Infact their exact comment was” umwaice uyu finishi engachita”  meaning what could this child possibly do?) .  The French individuals (???? yes I was shocked as well)  that were given the contract did an abysmal job, produced very little in terms of return and what started as a promising concept became a disaster for the company, who had oversold the project. A few months later one of the marketing executives flew to New York and met with me, in that meeting he provided an apology, as well as acknowledgement of the error. However to add insult to injury, he asked if I was willing to come on board to salvage the project and make the winner of the show an international music star, but I would have to work out of pocket, using my own money, because the million dollar budget has been used up and the company’s general management wanted nothing more to do with the project, and saw no value in putting up any more money.

This by far, represented the most disappointing business period of my life and was a lesson on how cruel life can be. How your hopes and dreams can go up in smoke, even if you do all the right things, work hard and work with passion. Not getting that  Celtel deal in particular was a bitter blow for me, as I really felt I was the right person for the job and would have worked tirelessly to make the project a success

After this incident, and the disappointment of the prior two deals, I finally accepted that it was time to quit the music business and focus on the other aspects of my business that were showing more promise. The hardest thing to do as an entrepreneur is walking away from an idea. I had work tirelessly for 4 years and to be honest I had nothing to show for my efforts. In my heart break, I told myself that it was for the best, and that bigger and better things would come my way…….I was right…

To be continued..

About Myself

I am currently an Investment Manager for one of the largest financial companies in the world and prior to that I worked as a Sales Director, wholesaling investments to Wall Street stockbrokers. I have a degree in Marketing from Southern Connecticut State University and an MBA in Finance from Fairfield University.  If you need to get a hold of me or have any questions for me, feel free, I am on facebook or you can e-mail me at mawano.kambeu@dczambia.com 

As an entrepreneur I have three businesses:

The biggest and oldest company is Dot Com Zambia (www.dczambia.com),  where we allow people in Zambia to shop and make online purchases through our company . Milestone Properties – a company that owns and manages rental properties in the U.S .

And then recently I created a new company called Zed Football Millionaire (www.zedfootballmillionaire.com), a sports entertainment company that specializes in online EPL and Zambia Super League competitions, where our fans can interact and win great prizes from our sponsors and/or cash! Infact, the company was created at the end of February and we already have 13,000 fans on Facebook (www.facebook.com/zedfootballmillionaire).  I am proud of the fact, that I am in the process of hiring 4 people for Zed Football Millionaire, which includes sales and marketing staff,  and a host for our weekly show on our  YouTube channel.

As an entrepreneur you have to be a jack of all trades and so I have to host the show until I can hire the right person (so if you know someone who can host this show, let me know).

Can Africans Innovate? Part 3 (By Chanda Chisala)

Organizations should be born in innovation and should be run in innovation if they are to be continuously effective and create a lasting impact on society. The founder must start with an innovative, distinctive idea, and the team must also be innovative in all their operations, no matter what they are doing.

As we have seen, the status quo in Africa is just to follow others blindly. There is little shame in just copying the next person without the least bit of effort in thought or self-differentiation. Most people do not realize that this really is a confession that they are unable to think for themselves, that they are only capable of following another person’s thoughts; without him they are lost. There is nothing worse than such a statement about yourself.

This lack of shame for lack of thought in our culture goes beyond just business or organizational innovation. This is evident even when one talks to people about their political “ideas.” It takes only a few minutes before you realize that the person is saying the same things the last person you talked to was saying and the person before that, ad infinitum. It is very rare to meet a person who sounds like they have thought deeply about their position.

So, when you ask someone what they think Zambia needs to do to develop, the predictable answers you will hear are: “You know, we need to invest in agriculture. That’s what we need. This country doesn’t take agriculture seriously.”

And before you ask further, they quickly add “Oh, and we need good leaders, not these selfish leaders we have. We need good leaders and we need to get serious about corruption.”

Right. But that’s what you heard someone else say; are you able to develop the thought any further than what you heard from Jim or Jack? It doesn’t even have to be a right idea, but can you add your own idea?

Whenever we are watching the news, we can usually predict what the “official” at a public function is about to say. If it is someone from Ministry of Technology, they will say something like “Technology is very important, the world is changing fast and we need to adapt,…” etc. If the event has to do with education, it will be “Education is very important, a country can not survive without education, our children are the future leaders, …”…etc. Ministry of Environment? “We need to protect our environment, our environment is very important …” OK, but what’s new about that? Why is it on the NEWS? Is there anything in the speech that is unique to this speaker?

If the person is not from the government, their speech will read “Our appeal to the government is that they must find means and ways to solve this problem because it is very important …” You will never hear any thoughtful suggestions or solutions from them, just “appeals to the government” to find solutions.

If the interview is with an expert just before the annual budget presentation, the answer is always “You know, we expect to see a pro-poor budget. These statistics of economic growth are just figures, the poverty out there is still deep, so we need a pro-poor budget.” Well, OK, which is what the other person said before last year’s budget, and the year before that. Anything else? Why are we even interviewing you if you’re just regurgitating the same old statements?

And of course the news reporters don’t get bored reporting on the same speeches and statements; they look genuinely impressed with the same repeated answer each time.

Even their questions as reporters are predictable. At the start of a studio interview, no matter how simple the subject is, they will usually begin, “For the sake of our viewers out there, can you define what ‘climate change’ means (or whatever the subject is)”? (Have you ever heard Christianne Armanpour ask that?). Don’t just ask the question because it is asked by everyone, think first if a definition is required, especially if it’s a well-known subject.

At the end of an interview, we are likely to hear the question: “So what is your appeal to the people out there?” Or “Any last words?” which, again, is a confession by the interviewer that they can’t actually think of an interesting question: a confession of lack of thought, lack of a focused consciousness.

The most disappointing “thinkers,” of course, are the University of Zambia (UNZA) graduates from the Humanities and “Social Sciences”. Ask them the same question about what we need to develop as a nation. I guarantee that the answer will be: “You know, we need to fight this neocolonialism of the imperialist West. These white people (or Chinese) control everything, you know? They come here and take everything just like they did in colonial times and our government is just watching…” It’s either that or they will repeat the other rant about selfish leaders, agriculture, etc.

If you’ve talked to one of them, you’ve talked to almost all of them, because they automatically parrot the ideas of a few “Afrocentric” lecturers who have been teaching there for many years – and even they just parrot other people they’ve read, which is why it is the same arguments you hear whether you speak to a graduate of UNZA or any other African University. The narrative is identical, and yet they are incredibly passionate when rehashing these same identical ideas – which is quite fascinating. How can you be so proud of imitating someone else? Can’t you at least even find a new way of explaining that same point, in a way that is unique to you?

How do we expect people who are trained to parrot the lecturer (or the text book) to ever be innovative when they finally start their jobs or businesses?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chanda Chisala is the founder of Zambia Online (www.zambia.co.zm). Formed in 1998, the website is still most active Zambian website today. Chanda was a John S. Knight Fellow in the Communications Department of Stanford University and more recently, a Visiting Scholar to Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank. Contact him at cchisala@stanford.edu

Can Africans Innovate? Part 3 (By Chanda Chisala)

Organizations should be born in innovation and should be run in innovation if they are to be continuously effective and create a lasting impact on society. The founder must start with an innovative, distinctive idea, and the team must also be innovative in all their operations, no matter what they are doing.

As we have seen, the status quo in Africa is just to follow others blindly. There is little shame in just copying the next person without the least bit of effort in thought or self-differentiation. Most people do not realize that this really is a confession that they are unable to think for themselves, that they are only capable of following another person’s thoughts; without him they are lost. There is nothing worse than such a statement about yourself.

This lack of shame for lack of thought in our culture goes beyond just business or organizational innovation. This is evident even when one talks to people about their political “ideas.” It takes only a few minutes before you realize that the person is saying the same things the last person you talked to was saying and the person before that, ad infinitum. It is very rare to meet a person who sounds like they have thought deeply about their position.

So, when you ask someone what they think Zambia needs to do to develop, the predictable answers you will hear are: “You know, we need to invest in agriculture. That’s what we need. This country doesn’t take agriculture seriously.”

And before you ask further, they quickly add “Oh, and we need good leaders, not these selfish leaders we have. We need good leaders and we need to get serious about corruption.”

Right. But that’s what you heard someone else say; are you able to develop the thought any further than what you heard from Jim or Jack? It doesn’t even have to be a right idea, but can you add your own idea?

Whenever we are watching the news, we can usually predict what the “official” at a public function is about to say. If it is someone from Ministry of Technology, they will say something like “Technology is very important, the world is changing fast and we need to adapt,…” etc. If the event has to do with education, it will be “Education is very important, a country can not survive without education, our children are the future leaders, …”…etc. Ministry of Environment? “We need to protect our environment, our environment is very important …” OK, but what’s new about that? Why is it on the NEWS? Is there anything in the speech that is unique to this speaker?

If the person is not from the government, their speech will read “Our appeal to the government is that they must find means and ways to solve this problem because it is very important …” You will never hear any thoughtful suggestions or solutions from them, just “appeals to the government” to find solutions.

If the interview is with an expert just before the annual budget presentation, the answer is always “You know, we expect to see a pro-poor budget. These statistics of economic growth are just figures, the poverty out there is still deep, so we need a pro-poor budget.” Well, OK, which is what the other person said before last year’s budget, and the year before that. Anything else? Why are we even interviewing you if you’re just regurgitating the same old statements?

And of course the news reporters don’t get bored reporting on the same speeches and statements; they look genuinely impressed with the same repeated answer each time.

Even their questions as reporters are predictable. At the start of a studio interview, no matter how simple the subject is, they will usually begin, “For the sake of our viewers out there, can you define what ‘climate change’ means (or whatever the subject is)”? (Have you ever heard Christianne Armanpour ask that?). Don’t just ask the question because it is asked by everyone, think first if a definition is required, especially if it’s a well-known subject.

At the end of an interview, we are likely to hear the question: “So what is your appeal to the people out there?” Or “Any last words?” which, again, is a confession by the interviewer that they can’t actually think of an interesting question: a confession of lack of thought, lack of a focused consciousness.

The most disappointing “thinkers,” of course, are the University of Zambia (UNZA) graduates from the Humanities and “Social Sciences”. Ask them the same question about what we need to develop as a nation. I guarantee that the answer will be: “You know, we need to fight this neocolonialism of the imperialist West. These white people (or Chinese) control everything, you know? They come here and take everything just like they did in colonial times and our government is just watching…” It’s either that or they will repeat the other rant about selfish leaders, agriculture, etc.

If you’ve talked to one of them, you’ve talked to almost all of them, because they automatically parrot the ideas of a few “Afrocentric” lecturers who have been teaching there for many years – and even they just parrot other people they’ve read, which is why it is the same arguments you hear whether you speak to a graduate of UNZA or any other African University. The narrative is identical, and yet they are incredibly passionate when rehashing these same identical ideas – which is quite fascinating. How can you be so proud of imitating someone else? Can’t you at least even find a new way of explaining that same point, in a way that is unique to you?

How do we expect people who are trained to parrot the lecturer (or the text book) to ever be innovative when they finally start their jobs or businesses?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chanda Chisala is the founder of Zambia Online (www.zambia.co.zm). Formed in 1998, the website is still most active Zambian website today. Chanda was a John S. Knight Fellow in the Communications Department of Stanford University and more recently, a Visiting Scholar to Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank. Contact him at cchisala@stanford.edu

Can Africans Innovate? Part 2 (By Chanda Chisala)

The Wikipedia entry on entrepreneurship says:

Entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur, which can be defined as “one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods.”

Although innovation is an essential part of true entrepreneurship, it is not just founders of businesses who should be innovative. Every leader and executive within an organization (whether for business or not) must be innovative if they want the organization to be very effective. If they are satisfied with just being average, then of course they should just do what the average is doing: they should merely copy and end there.

An effective marketing department, for example, should not just do the same old things that they see from other marketers. They should bring newness and uniqueness to their marketing efforts. Instead, what we see common in Africa are copies of copies of copies.

There was one company in Zambia that said at the end of their advert “We originate, others imitate.” Ironically, there’s been many companies after that that ended their adverts with the same boast — “We originate, others imitate” — even though this very statement is an imitation (of an imitation)!

At the end of every other party event advert on Zambian radio, you hear the admonition “Be there or be square!” No one feels any shame just copying the same sentence completely. They don’t even attempt to change anything!

You see lack of innovation even in such small things as corporate mission statements: “Customer satisfaction is our goal” or another repeated variation of that sentence can be seen when you enter the premises of most companies. “We seek to maximize shareholder value while also meeting customer needs …” and so on. Same words wherever you go. Nothing new, nothing inspiring.

What was innovator Steve Jobs’ personal “mission statement” at Apple? “To put a dent on the universe!” You can tell immediately from just those words that this is not a copycat, this is an innovator, a deep thinker. The official Apple motto, of course is “Think Different.” And everything they do indeed does show this.

The innovativeness of Apple can be seen from their adverts, the designs of their products, their management style, and so on. Google’s innovativeness can be seen  from the way they hire new talent, and even from the way they do their lunch! (They have a huge cafeteria that serves any kind of food you can think of, for free, so that workers can have no excuse for leaving the Google campus at lunch — and the seating arrangement is designed to encourage them to discuss ideas during lunch!) When I toured Pixar Animations with a group of students a couple of years ago, I was surprised to learn that Steve Jobs was involved even in the design of their toilets (they experimented with the idea of allowing men and women to use the same bathrooms, just to create an atmosphere of no barriers – but when this didn’t work out very well, they changed it!). Innovators experiment with anything!

In Zambia, even hiring processes are totally predictable. When you see an advert looking for programmers, they will never forget to mention that he should have a degree in computer science, worked for 4 years, etc, etc (sometimes they even demand to see a high school certificate  – only God knows why that is relevant if they are looking for a professional position). Google, on the other hand, simply publishes complex puzzles which they know that only a great programmer, engineer or math whiz can solve and whoever solves the puzzle can type that answer (usually a number) into a browser as a url (a web address) and this will take him to a secret web page with instructions on how he should proceed for the next stage of the interview! So, for example, their advert might just say “2 + 2 x 2″.com; if your answer is 8, you go to http://www.8.com, and you will not get the interview page because 8 is the wrong answer! (If you don’t know why 8 is wrong, forget about ever getting a programming job with Google because their puzzles are a thousand times more complicated than that.)

Why does it matter that a programmer should have a degree in computer science? Even our adverts for web masters say they should have a degree in computer science! How many people have taught themselves such kind of programming without any degree or while having a degree in accountancy? I mean, the founder of Microsoft himself does not have a degree, not just in programming, but in anything, and neither does the founder of Apple Computers, two great software giants; so why is it totally necessary that the people who operate their products should have degrees? And yet our companies think they are violating some holy rule if they ever publish an advert without asking for a computer science degree. And because of this, they lose out in hiring someone who could have probably been ten times smarter than the guy they got. In short, they simply limit the talent pool that they can choose from, and this for no reason except that they did not stop to think for themselves about their job “requirement”: they were satisfied with just following what everyone else does whether it makes sense or not. They never question anything.

Executives in different departments must be innovative. It will give them so much joy to really do something in their own way, from their own thoughts, and to test it in real life like an experiment. If it doesn’t work, they can tweak it or abandon it completely and try another idea, but even failure is more satisfying than simply following trends without thinking. The seismic shift in work culture will result in more effective organizations, whether in the corporate world, the NGO world or indeed in the world of government.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chanda Chisala is the founder of Zambia Online (www.zambia.co.zm). Formed in 1998, the website is still most active Zambian website today. Chanda was a John S. Knight Fellow in the Communications Department of Stanford University and more recently, a Visiting Scholar to Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank.

Can Africans Innovate? Part 1 (By Chanda Chisala)

With the current renewed focus on economic growth, it is now common to hear African leaders talk about entrepreneurship. When someone starts selling bananas at a market stand surrounded by other banana sellers, he is hailed as an entrepreneur. But in fact, he is just a businessman. To be an entrepreneur, he has to start something new, or do an old thing in a new way. The element of newness has to be there, something that immediately distinguishes him from other people in the same business, something that makes him stand out and be preferred by some buyers (or all buyers). In short, a true entrepreneur is an innovator. He thinks hard about distinguishing himself to create a special advantage for his business.

But that’s not what is common in Zambia or even the rest of Africa. In Zambia, you often hear “entrepreneurs” say, “mwana, I hear there’s a lot of money in the bus business. I am also going to buy a bus from Japan and get into this business.” There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a way of surviving. It’s business.

But real entrepreneurs think beyond mere survival. They want to build. They want to dominate. To them, business is an intellectual activity, an intellectual challenge, not merely a means of putting more food on the table. It’s a science.

This is the discipline that Africa almost totally lacks. You need only to look at African television to see how true this is. Almost none of the interesting shows we love to watch on TV originated from Africa. Whether it is Big Brother Africa, African Idol, or Survival, or any other interesting show; they are all imported from outside. And yet there is absolutely no reason that none of these ideas was started in Africa: it costs no money just to think of a concept like “we’ll put some young people in the same house for one month and film them live, then viewers will vote them out one by one” (Big Brother). Do you need a lot of capital to just think of that? Does that need to come from a rich country?

Even the shows that we think were started here were actually not. We have a certain local show that is merely a copyright infringement of “the Apprentice” from America. We have a number of dance competition shows which have infringed on more copyrights than one. And so on. Many of these “local” shows are just a lawsuit in waiting. We do not have the discipline required to think of something different.

Why can’t some people in that industry think of something original that Africans will love and then they could perhaps export it to Americans, Europeans and Asians, just as we import their creations?

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world because it is the most innovative. Innovators all over the world know that the best place for them to succeed is the US because the culture there is simply the best at innovation (we’ll look into the reasons for that in another article).

Americans have always known that innovation is the most effective way to enter an established industry. Big corporations have frequently been dethroned from their market position by two kids working in a garage who come up with a new idea or intelligently bet on a new trend. IBM was a multibillion dollar corporation when Bill Gates and Paul Allen saw an idea that IBM had overlooked, and soon the great software company was dethroned by a small company started by two young programmers.

Yahoo was already a billion dollar company when two Stanford students thought of a better way of doing search – and they formed Google.

The stories are endless.

And even for these new companies to continue leading, they have to keep innovating, which means the whole management team (not just the founder) have to be innovators in their own departments. Once they slow down, it is only a matter of time before a new entrant creeps up on them and takes them out.

We have big companies in Africa that do very little innovation, but they continue leading because there is no one to challenge them despite their many obvious mistakes. There are no young or older people who even believe they can think of something that will challenge these big companies. In our consciousness, it is not even a possibility to think of taking out a big company.

We complain that this is because banks do not support entrepreneurs. There is probably some truth to that, but it is not the main story. Most times the biggest problem is really just that our “entrepreneurs” do not present any (provable) innovative ideas to the bank or venture capitalist. When an American who comes from that culture of innovation visits the same bank, he gets a loan and we all just assume that our own bankers are being racist against us!

Yes, it’s possible that there are some bankers who are irrationally intimidated by whites, but many times it is just that our local entrepreneurs are not really entrepreneurial. They do not have the character of an entrepreneur. Not only do they not have the integrity that will force them to repay the loan before they begin consuming the profits (they buy the latest Mercedes Benz before they’ve paid back half the loan!), they also do not have the character to think through the idea to the point where it is truly distinguished from other people doing the same thing. They go to the bank and just ask for money to buy some buses. Or to build a lodge. Or to start a farm. When they are asked what will be different about it, why it will make money despite the competition, they basically have no answer. They just believe they will work harder or be luckier or something.

Imagine if Bill Gates had gone to any bank simply with the claim that he would work harder than IBM. Everyone would think he is insane: you need much more than “hard work” to beat IBM. You need a scientific method.

Most of the proposals that are rejected by our local banks would most likely also be rejected by American banks. It is not true that their banks are absolutely more flexible than ours. No. It just so happens that their businessmen are generally much more innovative because they are more committed to the hard discipline of sustained thought — they have a stronger character, they are more innovative.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Chanda Chisala is the founder of Zambia Online (www.zambia.co.zm). Formed in 1998, the website is still most active Zambian website today. Chanda was a John S. Knight Fellow in the Communications Department of Stanford University and more recently, a Visiting Scholar to Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank. Contact him at cchisala@stanford.edu

 

Post Navigation