Entrepreneurship and innovation are critical to the success of Africa. In the words of our Founder, Fred Swaniker, “the challenges that leaders face on the continent are effectively entrepreneurial challenges.”
That’s why entrepreneurial leadership is an essential component of the MBA programme at ALU School of Business (ALUSB). Through the Product, Innovation and Entrepreneurship course, ALUSB MBA students are primed to discover and address the continent’s significant challenges and capitalize on its greatest opportunities. More often than not, this leads to a transformation of the MBA students’ mindset towards entrepreneurship.
One person that is no stranger to entrepreneurship but did leverage the ALUSB MBA to strengthen his vision is Brian Mataruka (Class of 2021). Brian is a Zimbabwean lawyer who runs an agricultural tech startup focusing on horticulture and tobacco as primary crops. He does this while pursuing his MBA at the same time!
We sat down with Brian to learn more about the key lessons he learned so far on his entrepreneurial journey. Discover the 3 key takeaways below:
Find your driving force.
To whom much is given, much is expected. If you’re familiar with this phrase, you know it means that those who have been blessed must benefit others. This realization was the catalyst for Brian’s entrepreneurial journey. “I’ve been a lawyer for a long time. I just came to a point where I looked at my life and asked myself: ‘how can I give back?’”
The answer was through meaningful employment. “My life goal is to provide meaningful employment opportunities that will drive real change in the socio-economic fabric of Africa. Jobs that pay a living wage and provide growth opportunities.”
Since starting his venture, Brain has grown his business from 6 to 93 employees, and that’s just the beginning. “If we continue this trajectory, we’re looking at 300 employers by the end of 2026 – with 60% being women.”
Share your experience
Do you want to do business on a pan-African scale? You can’t ignore the politics, you can’t ignore the socio-economic dynamics, you can’t overlook trade rules, and you can’t ignore the different interests countries have, even within their own regional blocks. These are all lessons Brian has learned through sharing his experience with his MBA classmates across the continent. “As you begin to share those experiences with other business people and thought leaders on the continent, you become more exposed to what doing business in Africa actually is and how you can tap into the experience of your classmates to solve your business problems. So share as much as you can!”
Forget about work-life balance.
One of the most complex parts of being an entrepreneur is finding a work-life balance. According to Brian, it’s time for you to throw that concept out of the window. “I don’t think that exists – something will suffer. All you can hope for is a good support system that will understand the late nights. Make sure you communicate what you’re trying to build to your loved ones; they’re stakeholders too.”
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