Forbes Magazine has reported Marck Zuckerberg to having declared that “Africa Will Build the Future”. That is a story that is good for us, and obviously, it is not the first time that such an utterance is made about Africa. Mark has been on a visit to Sub Saharan Africa for the very first time in his life. Obviously, what he saw is what made him say what he did, especially after touring Nigeria and Kenya.
Facebook was on 1st September 2016 awash with photos of the founder Mark Zuckerberg enjoying a local delicacy in Kenya: Maize meal and Tilapia. He posted some of these photos himself.
Mark is a focused guy. His sole mission on this trip is “…meeting with developers and entrepreneurs and learning about the startup ecosystem…” So his first stop was in Nigeria where he met developers at the CO-creation Hub Nigeria (CcHub) at a place called Yaba. At this place, Mark interacted with kids who are learning to code as well as other people that are building their apps and startups.
Next stop was Nairobi Kenya. Kenya and Nigeria have is silent rivalry in several things: Entrepreneurship, Social Media, creativity and so on. Few years back, there was a “Twitter War” between Kenya and Nigeria with the hashtag, #SomeoneTellNigeria, where it is reported that Nigerians had nothing on Kenya…but I digress.
While in Kenya, Zuckerberg visited the famous iHub, an Innovation hub and hacker space for the technology community in Nairobi that was started in March 2010 by Erik Hersman a blogger, TED fellow and entrepreneur. Sam Gichuru, the founder of Kuhustle, was invited by Erick to iHub for the Zuckerberg visit. He had this to say about Mark: The reason as to why many of us entrepreneurs are strategically positioning ourselves is because
In Uganda, for two years in a row, we have been named as the most entrepreneurial country in the world. There were other favorable reports about Uganda and Investment last week. The question is when we come to the ground where the rubber meets the road, will we find what Mark Zuckerberg found in Nigeria and Kenya in the Startup, Innovation and Entrepreneurship ecosystem? Can we point out something of the same nature or even better than what Mark found in these two countries?
What Lessons can We Learn?
Sam Gichuru says he was invited by Erick of iHub to get to meet Mark Zuckerberg when he was around. That means that at some level, they are complimenting each other. These two (Kuhustle and iHub) are not government institutions. That means that they are not waiting for the government to do something. I think we can learn this from the Kenyans and up our game in Uganda in terms of Collaboration. One man shows will not cut it.
If Mark Zuckerberg came to Uganda, where would we take him? And while there, what would he find? No doubt we have amazing things happening around the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Uganda, but there is need for organization. I am aware that NITA Uganda is putting up a local Innovation Hub in Kampala Uganda towards this end.
“Nobody” apart from his classmates, friends and relatives knew Mark Zuckerberg 15 years ago. He was an obscurity. I also bet that multiplied millions of people by yesterday did not know “Mama Oliech Restaurant” in Hurlingham Nairobi. But those years of obscurity are the blessing. They are the years of preparation. The saddest thing to do is to run away from obscurity and trying so hard to insist on being prominent. It takes time and it is a process. But get this: If Obscurity has to be your friend, then you had better have a process in place.
Mama Oliech has become a world phenomenon instantly. Of course it took time. But curiously, what do you think the guys hanging around Mark were telling him? The guys from Nigeria and Kenya…what do you tell a Billionaire when you have a chance to be in their presence? I think it comes down again to preparation and passion. But most importantly, being intentional.
5. Take Your Chances:
Ok, supposing Mama Oliech Restaurant, Co-creation Hub in Nigeria and iHub in Kenya were not on Facebook???? Would they have received a “sneeze” of Mark’s powerful recommendation. But then again the thing is not just being on Facebook, but having products, services, and solutions that the world can get from us whenever we come to prominence. I always say that the worst thing in being in Oprah is not having a book to sell!