The interesting thing about all this is that Sub-Saharan Africa is slowly moving away from discussing ideologies and economic theories to practical issues of creating wealth at personal level. For many years, we have been asking questions about why the African continent is not as successful as countries in the North. Up to this day, answers are still mottled.
Some analysts believe African poverty is in its history. Slavery that occurred up to the 19th Century stripped Africa of its resources. Another argument points to colonialism as responsible for growing levels of poverty across the continent. Colonialism is believed to have depleted the resource base for the continent.
Academicians and scholars blame neo-colonialism for Africa’s poverty levels. The trade patterns and resource allocation system strongly favour the developed economies. Consequently, Africa has largely remained an over-dependant continent through unequal terms of trade perpetuated by concentration of exports of raw materials. There are others who believe that there is something genetically wrong with Africa in general!
In my book “Business Values for Our Time” launched last August, I do not blame anyone for what we have and what we do not have in Africa. The many people hungry for success are no longer interested in the theories. They want information about how to succeed. The new thinking is that success is not solely a product of good national economic policies but good personal economic policies too. It is for this reason the book is among many that have been published in our times with the key objective of supporting people run successful enterprises.
The book is simply a motivation to value systems that have made many people very successful. However, some of the values associated with achievement are found in our cultural systems. The African culture is associated with wealth. All entrepreneurs I profiled in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa agree that value systems have something to do with how one makes money. Below is an excerpt from the Preface of the book.
“Zimbabwe and South Africa are going through different phases in the pursuit of empowerment or indigenisation policies. The common weakness in the Zimbabwe and South African empowerment drives is the over-emphasis on ownership as opposed to a good appreciation of business, business training, good business practises and good values. Consequently, black populations have ventured into businesses they do not understand, and have entered into them with the mindset that everything will just work itself out.
Thus, the fall of some of these businesses has been spectacular. The fall in production from the farms acquired under the Land Reform program in Zimbabwe is a typical example. The need to embrace good values in business can not be over-emphasised. This book addresses the issues that determine the difference between a successful or failing business venture. I recommend it for all those who are keen on empowering themselves.”
Tawanda Nyambirai, Group Chief Executive Officer
TN Financial Holdings, Zimbabwe (March 2010)