It’s All about a Long-term View
If success is the goal, then it can be said that perseverance is the engine. Few individuals are able to achieve great things without first overcoming the obstacles that stand in their way.
Many individuals who decided to set out on their own are familiar with the hardest part of entrepreneurship, which is continuing to work on an idea once the initial excitement of launching a business has worn off.
Perseverance in Entrepreneurship
While genius and creativity are important and celebrated especially in the ideation phases of the product building phase, perseverance is that quality that is needed for the work and the reiterations that are inevitable to successfully arrive at the desired point.
In this interview, the Tony Elumelu Foundation talks with Paul Nyambe, Zambian entrepreneur and 2018 TEF Beneficiary. Paul tells us about his company Zamgoat, an innovative, market-driven, and socially-inclusive Zambian agribusiness, supporting rural livelihoods with the processing and distribution of quality goat products and services.
For Paul, a lot has changed, and his agribusiness has grown over the years in terms of production capacity, market penetration and its impact on small holder farmers. “At the time that I participated in the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, our business was quite small,” he says. “We were just over 18 and had sales of $12,000. Now, we bring in sales of $40,000 on the average in annual revenue.”
Running a Successful Business
“I think starting begins with understanding who you are, your realities and what you want out of your life. In my case, it was identifying who I was at the time when I started Zamgoat in 2012, the economic environment within the country and, the gap in the market.” Paul points to Aliko Dangote’s success as a businessperson as an inspiration to him, and reflects on how perseverance enabled him to keep working on his business.
“It is one of the key elements of running a business,” he says. “Running a business does not happen in a straight line; you do not always get it right from the start, so you need to be patient, you need to have better agility to fight on when things don’t work according to plan, and you need to have a long-term view.”
Reaping Business Rewards
Most businesses take a loss until they break-even. For Paul, it is about the freedom to determine his own economic destiny. “Running my own business, besides enabling me to take care of personal needs, also gives me the best opportunity to create for the future,” he says.
“It is also the fact that I’m able to help other people through my business. We are now uplifting the lives of small holder farmers in rural areas of Zambia.”
Small and medium businesses require great support to be able to succeed, and Paul tells us that to be able to keep his business afloat, entrepreneurs need to have a good metric to judge the people they add to their teams and circles, and they also need to understand the entrepreneurial ecosystem around. “As an entrepreneur in this part of the world, you may need to look beyond the traditional scope of financing, where traditional banks do not seem to be friendly to small businesses.”
Just Starting Up
To enable a more conducive environment where businesses drive economy, governments must put more effort in developing policies to champion local enterprise development.
“It is important to note that business is the most sustainable way to generate development in the economy,” Paul says. “Whatever business you’re into, you need to look beyond yourself, your self-interest, and start a business with the point of view of also generating social or environmental impact. That way, even when you hit a rough patch, the motivation keeps you going. I think it is time entrepreneurs shift the focus from business as a means of profit to business as a means of generating social impact.”
The Future of Zamgoat
Where does the future of Zamgoat lie? Paul believes there is a huge potential for Zamgoat to be recognised as a peer in the industry, and to grow the world over. “Where I see Zamgoat in the next few years is to be the king of the goat industry in Zambia and the world.”