We are often struck by the simplicity of doing business better. So many bad business decisions and situations are caused by very basic problems, such as lack of perspective, unwillingness to try new things, human error, or an inability to think laterally or ‘out of the box’.
Chris Coghlan has apparently addressed this phenomenon in a way that can be game-changing for small African businesses. A fund manager by day, Coghlan realized that he was making multi-million dollar investment decisions regularly, over the phone, that affected people all over the world. Why couldn’t the same means be used to positively influence small African businesses that could benefit from minimal inputs? These inputs could take the form of advice, mentoring, perhaps just sense-checking a business idea that an African entrepreneur might want to pursue. And all of the inputs could be given by phone. If the mentor were local, the phone call would be really cheap. And even if the mentor had to call from two continents away, the price of the call would be a small sum to pay in the context of the benefits such support could have for African entrepreneurs.
He was right, it seems. Together with Violet Busingye, a Uganda native, Coghlan founded the Grow Movement in 2010. Since then entrepreneurs Grow supports have created 100 jobs in 40 projects in Uganda and increased their profits 20% on average in an 18.7% inflationary environment. He plans expansion to Malawi and other countries in the region and is now recruiting Grow Network mentors from all around the world.
This video, a TED Talks Production, is a brilliant example of how keeping things simple can be the best way forward for improving business in Africa.