Kenyan Internet Entrepreneur Talks Business Success In Africa

May 14, 2012  |  

Kenyan internet entrepreneur Njeri Rionge has an eye for business ventures. She’s been conducting business for years and now she’s reaching out to help other African entrepreneurs as Africa becomes the next economic frontier.

“Every single entrepreneur must have a backbone, if you don’t have the backbone and capacity to sustain and to be agile enough to organise your ideas and your business growth, then you’re probably not made up for business or entrepreneurship,” she said to BBC.

Although Rionge has been managing businesses for years, she didn’t always experience success.

“I touched many things before I touched the thing that I turned to gold,” she said to BBC.  “I did hairdressing, I did buying and selling of clothes in London and then the thing that actually created the opportunity for success.”

Rionge found business gold with Wananchi.com, a business venture she launched in 2000 that brought easy internet access to East Africa’s masses. Success wasn’t easy, she first had to fight the government leaders who weren’t entirely sold on the idea of accessible internet. Now she says, the biggest challenge in Kenya is the shortage of trained IT staff.

“The biggest challenge is human resources – how you actually maintain that success story on the human resource side of any business and also the funding and making sure that you always have enough capital to grow the business,” she told BBC Africa’s Ruth Nesoba.

Since then Rionge’s accolades also include Ignite, a management consultancy and her new-technology firm Insight. But Rionge is not afraid to offer her talents to help assist other entrepreneurs. For aspiring idea she created the Business Lounge, which is a space for entrepreneurs to brainstorm and network.

To Africa’s entrepreneurs, she says, “we encourage you to bring your ideas to the Business Lounge and [to] incubate them here for a period of time and within that incubation period we can actually support you.”

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