Building a business in Africa
Mo Ibrahim founded Celtel, a telecommunication company on the African continent at a time when all other international investors shunned such a possibility. This paper provides insights as to challenges and strengths that the Celtel founder underwent through in eventually creating a multinational company spanning thirteen African countries.
Beginning a company takes a great deal of self-reference criterion, as did Mo Ibrahim when he perceived of the enormous potential the African continent as a market for telecom services. His understanding of the African continent and the different cultures prevailing in different opportunities gave him a competitive edge over other investors.
Some of the challenges the founder face included sourcing for finances, working in different cultural settings, poor transportation infrastructure and social evils such as corruption. He however had the wisdom to attract some of the best talent in the market who enabled the weaknesses to be translated into strengths.
The Celtel founder had individual strengths which enabled him navigate the international telecoms industry with ease. He sourced the greatest minds in the UK telecoms industry as well as a very influential figure on the African continent. This enabled him to attract some of the best talent from across the world to train Africans to work towards developing Africa.
Ibrahim had good knowledge and determination to succeed in forming the Celtel Company. He had to face strong external pressures from the operating environment. For instance, he had to endure setting up a telecommunications network in war torn Sierra Leone as well as set up telecommunication infrastructure in Congo, a country with virtually no transport infrastructure at the time.
By doing great deeds and investing in a bottom of the pyramid market, Celtel under the leadership of Mo Ibrahim brought mobile telephony to the world’s poorest market. He had the foresight to estimate the value of his company and the demand for African markets among international investors. This led to the eventual sale of Celtel to Zain.