Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tutaonana TechnoServe

Saturday marked my final day as a TechnoServe and consultant in the “Believe, Begin, Become,” business plan competition in Tanzania. A four-hour morning panel with those members of the ICT group, and an afternoon lecture on leveraging the Internet, left me with mixed feelings. Sadness, relief, and a profound hope that some of my ideas and messages had stuck.

I gave my microphone thank you to the 75 entrepreneurs, and was subsequently struck by their warmth and appreciation. Though I had direct one-on-one consulting sessions with over 20 entrepreneurs, double that number came to personally thank me for my time and journey. One woman asked that God’s angels protect me, while many others wanted to give their regards to my family. Some came with firm handshakes, and others with business cards. Flashes popped, and conversations circled. Some came with last-minute hopes that I could solve a persistant problem. Others simply wanted to say thanks and ask when I’d return to East Africa. Many wanted my impressions.

Opportunities are ripe in Africa. Infrastructure is less and standards are perhaps lower, but the very strengths of America engender market saturation. African problems can be seen as weaknesses, or as market opportunities. Entrepreneurs, like those inspiring, ambitious individuals whom I met in Tanzania, will fill those gaps so long as they have knowledge to create, and the investors who believe in their abilities.

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