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Guided Missiles: The Lonely Path of Entrepreneurship

Reflecting on the first half of the year 2018 and taking stock of the year 2017, there are contrasting findings in the number of entrepreneurial startup as well as existing firms’ success and failure rate. A situation that lends credence to the fears most corporate people have whenever the thought of going ‘solo’ (entrepreneurship) comes up: the thought of that “lonely path.”

It comes with uncertainties: risk of losing the rather scarce capital, getting the right team with the requisite know-how and attitude, lack of support from family and friends and ooh the most dreadful one – lack of self-confidence because forfeiting a regular paid job and chasing your ‘good ideas or passion’ does not guarantee having food on your table, clothes on your back and paying your bills. Whether you are a student about to complete your current level of education, an unemployed graduate or salaried worker, the transitions associated with every decision you make has consequences. We all desire for change but who drives the change taking cognizance of the inherent risk?

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A validated idea supported by a strong desire or passion is a fine starting point but then a well fashioned out plan and vision with enough savings and a spending plan (supportive family and friends) to sustain you in your activated survival mode is a step in the right direction. This is best actualized by establishing if you are an ‘opportunityentrepreneur or ‘necessity’ entrepreneur and getting the right team after identifying your strengths and weaknesses (key resources).

entrepreneurs
Passion drives entrepreneurs through the lonely path of entrepreneurship

Market dynamics sometimes demands adjustments to suite the time and this may slightly alter the vision and business plan but do not lose sight of the bigger picture as entrepreneurship is a process. The 21st century entrepreneur challenges the ‘normal’ by doing away with outmoded models through innovative means that affords leverages by employing impactful tools and technology which aids the brand demand drive. The business model canvas is a great tool to use in structuring an effective and viable business.

The question often asked is ‘Why do entrepreneurs with great (innovative) ideas fail with some even quitting completely to end up in the corporate world when they have had some forms of funding, training and coaching?’. A recent visit to some beneficiary businesses support this line of questioning.

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What brings about these situations? Do budding entrepreneurs have the requisite knowledge and skills to venture into their identified ideas? What training and funding or financing options are there to assist them? Is it that due diligence is not carried out by donors or program managers?

What warrants for ‘serial’ entrepreneurs who are found at almost all donor training and pitching sessions? Are the training programs offered tailored to suite the various industries? How credible are institutions and programs targeted at different categories of entrepreneurs? How competent are the facilitators, coaches and mentors of such programs?  What post training sessions are instituted to assess proper application and implementation of the skills acquired during such trainings? Where such post training care exist, which evaluation methods are used to ascertain its effectiveness?

Checking out another article on kidpreneurs by this writer


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Magdarlene Quartey Ayiku is the Head of Corporate Affairs at the Center for Impact Entrepreneurship and the Corporate and Training Manager at AAMG Business Solutions Limited. Her wealth of experience spans from being a research assistant, a child developer and mentor, project coordinator, field officer, insurance underwriting and administrative officer. She also works as an Educational Innovations Consultant and facilitates learning in some Higher Education Institutions in Ghana. Poised to “dare to dream and discover”, she is passionate about entrepreneurial growth and success, education and leadership. Magdarlene enjoys working with students and professionals to champion their dreams and embrace failure, risk and uncertainties as part of lifelong learning.

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ARTICLES

Source Beauty is pushing the boundaries of Egyptian e-commerce

Egyptian e-commerce

Egyptian e-commerce: the county’s digital drive has not yet gotten to the growth typically seen in European countries and North America. However, as businesses have started shifting online, customers are now following suit, resulting in the gradual development of the digital eco-system.

Innovation, such as digital marketing, is reinventing the consumers’ path to purchase. The Egyptian e-commerce market is expected to grow at a rate of 33% annually to approximately $3bn by 2022, according to Oxford Business Group.

Source Beauty and disruption

The increase in e-commerce comes from rising internet penetration rates, driven by connected and digitally savvy millennials. Several platforms, both locally and internationally, such as the direct-to-consumer beauty platform Source Beauty, have disrupted the beauty industry in the region to drive their growth by truly connecting with their customers.

By being aware of the changing consumer behaviour trends in the e-commerce landscape, service providers like Source Beauty are continually fostering customer engagement with a community they have created. The customer service team, along with the editorial and marketing teams, respond to each comment and direct message, making customers feel listened to.

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Lydia Schoonderbeek, the founder and CEO of Source Beauty, said:

Egypt has traditionally been a price-driven market. After devaluation and high inflation rates, people have become much more price sensitive. People are consuming less and are shifting away from imported products due to price, accessibility and inconsistency in supply. As a result, they’re looking for local alternatives.”

Egyptian e-commerce
Founder of Source Beauty, Lydia Schoonderbeek

In line with its digital transformation and financial inclusion agenda, the Egyptian government has set in place directives to raise the limit for electronic payments for individuals via mobile phones to EGP30,000 (USD1,905) per day, and EGP100,000 (USD6,350) per month, since March 2020. Traditionally, 70% of online purchases were cash on delivery, which has proven to be a major challenge to e-commerce growth throughout the region. This preference has changed to credit card payments, increasing to 30% from 16% due to the spread of Covid-19, but it remains to be seen whether purchasing behaviors will be affected in the long term.

The CEO of Source Beauty further added that, the company had seen substantial growth thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic, with existing and new customers wanting to limit in-person beauty services and adhering to social distancing and mask-wearing requirements. Beauty customers, she says were changing spending habits, moving towards products that allow them to recreate the salon experience in their homes and protect them from the potential impact of an increasingly digital lifestyle. Finally, she believes they have seen customers prioritising skincare and haircare purchases over makeup.

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The question is, ‘Is anyone in Egypt going to buy beauty products online?’. Who thought people would buy books on the internet from a website called Amazon! Well, the answer seems to be YES. Consumer spending in Egypt on non-essential goods has reached EGP 3.90bn in 2020 and is set to reach 8.81bn in 2021, according to FitchSolution’s 2021 Report.

According to the Egyptian e-commerce beauty company, Source Beauty, it believes that the world is in an era where consumers are looking to associate with brands and not products, to make their beauty purchasing decisions and this is where homegrown brands like theirs will doubtlessly lead to economic growth in Egypt.

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