The influence of the late ‘Apple icon’ on Africa’s entrepreneurship
The great icon and entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, is no more. Flags flew at half-mast at Apple operations worldwide on the October 6, 2011 as the technology company grieved over the passing away of this great icon, the man recognised both with transforming Apple and saving it. Flags were lowered to half-mast at Cork, where Apple employs more than 2,000 people at its distribution, supply chain and back-office operation.
When Steve Jobs re-took the leadership at Apple in 1997, the company was close to bankruptcy. Fourteen years on, it is competing for the position of the most valuable publicly traded company in the world. The share price has climbed up to 9,000 per cent since Job’s return and doubled in value in the past two years.
Apple’s market capitalization officially dominated Microsoft’s, making the Cupertino, California, company, for the first time, the largest technology company in the world.
Standard & Poor’s analyst Howard Silverblatt argues that, with a market cap of $241.5 billion versus Microsoft’s $239.5 billion, Apple became the second-largest company. At the moment, only Exxon Mobil is bigger.
Market cap is a measure of the total value of all the outstanding shares of a company, and it’s a proxy for what investors think the company is worth, taking into account future earnings and future growth. As such, it’s a measure of prospects and projections, not reality. In 2010, Apple’s annual revenue was $42.9 billion, versus Microsoft’s $58.4 billion.
This is a significant milestone for a company that looked like a has-been just one decade ago.
Africa consumes Apple products in mass quantities. There are Apple technology companies in South Africa, Central Africa, North Africa and West Africa. These companies employ a huge number of Africans and assist in the fight against poverty. Apple technology like personal computers, lap tops, I phones are used by government officials in Africa as well as business persons and organisations. With Apple applications and technology it is possible for individuals as well as medical practitioners to check on wanting health issues.
One always wonders why Africans cannot learn from a great icon like Steve Jobs and boast their entrepreneurial ego. Complaints such as lack of political will, regulation and poor investment laws should not squeeze out the entrepreneurial skills from young Africans.
Entrepreneurs make the world go round. Daniel Mclaughlin rightly argues that entrepreneurs put their money on the line and take the risks that the rest of us can’t or are afraid to take. They are the ones who have great ideas and invest time and money to make it work. Entrepreneurs bring about innovation and positive change for an economy. They hire us because they had better ideas or are better in controlling costs.
Mclaughlin adds that most entrepreneurs are small-time capitalists and never head up a multi-billion dollar empire. Most of them are not wealthy to any large degree, and a significant portion of them end in failure, or even bankruptcy. Most successful ones work very hard, with long hours at relatively low pay for the time they put in. Many of them spend time with the business that they would rather spend with the family. Most of them go through periods of great stress trying to juggle time, budgets, loans, and customer relations. Entrepreneurs are just people like the rest of us.
Entrepreneurs are people driven by an urge to try something new, to make something work, to give wings to their ideas.
With the successes registered by the great icon, Steve Jobs, it is time for Africans to wake up from slumber and join the entrepreneurial band wagon. Africa needs entrepreneurs, it needs competition, it needs free markets. Entrepreneurs need encouragement that their efforts will be appreciated and profitable. It is time for Africans to tell their political representatives that they want to live in a thriving, wonderful economy marked by real competition and freedom in voluntary exchange. It is time for African governments and politicians to quit choosing winners and losers. This may be a very important solution in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 which are still far from achievement.
As African conferences on business development like, Convergence Africa brings together CEOs, leaders and investors from across the continent, it should be done in a bid to delve into business issues to produce insights and enable investors to connect with some of Africa’s leading companies.
These forums should not only be informative, but must generate practical, actionable and valuable ideas so as to build the entrepreneurial skills of business leaders on the continent.
These conferences should be designed to match enlightened investors. The presence of the brightest entrepreneurs in Africa and from all over the world, must be present at these forums to prove to young Africans that, despite the hurdles, we can make it if we try hard.
Chofor Che is a South Africa based Cameroonian Lawyer taking his PhD classes and an Administrator