Harvard business school

I learned a lot of things at the Harvard business school, USA. The learning process was unique, simple, and in most cases, the materials were very memorable.

It is indeed impossible to rise above the level of the information you possess.

That quote guided my decision to seek more knowledge at the highest citadel for business education, the prestigious Harvard Business School.

Getting into HBS (Harvard Business School) is always by a rigorous selection. The school, above all traits, wants her students to have a high level of leadership trait, and a voracious analytical appetite. As a result of this, the Harvard business school is known to have churned out a significant number of world leaders in major spheres of life.

While at Harvard business school, I had that “I don’t belong here” nostalgia. My living group mates were little but geniuses (That team could solve any challenge it put its heart to), and being the only African member of the group made me try harder than I normally would to be at my best learning mode as much as possible. I made up my mind to understand what made each of them a perfect candidate for the program. Yes, we were all there to learn, and the living group is where you learn most of what Harvard would teach you.

We all settled in to learn, and I made up my mind to be the best in class. We were saddled with lots, of course-notes that I wondered how the professors expected us to go through the whole course-work within the time frame we had.

The Lesson

Mostly, when you make up your mind to become an entrepreneur; to found your own company, you get faced with a major founder’s dilemma on whether to go it solo or with a partner – A challenge well outline by Noam Wasserman in his book, The Founder’s Dilemma.

If going with a partner, who do you go with? Several other questions come rushing through your mind like a flood was sent to sweep away the thought of ever founding a company of your own. Questions such as – What would the partner bring to the table, and how would you distribute the shares of the company amongst many other questions come to the forefront.

A lot of research out there makes it clear that the company with the highest success rate is companies with a founding team of 2.

You know it deep inside you but you find yourself in the state of confusion; wondering whether to follow your guts or to just let things go.

In Africa however, most startup companies have a team of one – such, who incidentally is the CEO, Chairman of the board, and Chief Accounting Officer. I have had several opportunities to ask myself why Israel is known as a startup country, why America is successfully built by corporations, and many more of such examples. And in all, why is Nigeria with a lot of ethnic diversity and human resources strength; highly intellectual and resilient people, finding it hard to excel at building lasting corporations.

It is a cash or King World

In the business world, it is either you want to be rich and successful, or you want to be in control of your time!

In Africa however, most business founders choose to go it all alone yet strive hard at building a successful business entity they hope would outlive them. It is simple, and cast in gold –

Only a few succeed at building businesses as single founders.

If your priority is building a business to get rich, then, by all means, seek out a suitable and complementing partner, else (If it is to take control of your time), by all means, go it alone. Both ways, you would need to have to go through and surmount some challenges; and at that point, your level of expertise on your chosen field, your passion, and yes – your partner would all come together to keep you going.

In his book – African Entrepreneurship: Constraints and Improvements, Gerd Junne opined – The typical African entrepreneur is a necessity entrepreneur, who works in the informal sector on a small piece of land. Young people would like to be a successful entrepreneur but hesitate to start a formal enterprise. Their role models are different. Entrepreneurship in Africa has to face more uncertainty than elsewhere, because of the five “C”s: corruption, crime, conflict, competition, and climate change. High uncertainty leads to short-term time horizons. Other constraints include limited education, lack of finances, and bad infrastructure. If these limitations were addressed on a large scale, an enormous entrepreneurial potential could be unleashed.

The challenges of developing and harnessing the enormous entrepreneurial potentials do not lie in the many aids we get as Africa, rather, it lies in dealing with the famous five “C”s. The reality is that Africans have moved from living to survival. We get to think about water, food, shelter, electricity supply, bad roads, healthcare, and so many vices that make living in Africa a little hell.

Alas, I found the answer at Harvard business school!

To develop Africa, you must take away the minute challenges that make it tough for entrepreneurs to come together as partners. Provide Africans with the basic amenities and you would have awakened the giants – The true owners of the truly last frontier.


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