SIX (6) BUSINESS IDEAS THAT CAN MAKE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT IN SIERRA LEONE
September 1, 2020
As more and more people venture into entrepreneurship, the race to develop and launch businesses to create impact, employment, and profit becomes more bold and brutal.
The underlying problems for many would-be-entrepreneurs lies in entering saturated markets with a not-so-unique product or with businesses that are similar to the competition and without any clear competitive advantage, which arguably leaves consumers indecisive.
The only other solution many entrepreneurs have is to engage in capital intensive projects, that are not easily copied by the competition. Unfortunately, in low-income countries like ours, where access to capital is a huge deal, this is not an advisable route to take.
In a bid to highlight key opportunities that need very minimum capital to start and scale, I have decided to share in this article a few ideas that may help you in your launch or your journey into entrepreneurship.
When using these ideas, please ensure that you are honest with yourself and understand your expertise, passion, and commitment level.
Do not just run with it because you think it is cool or assume it will work without actually putting in the needed effort. My advice is, do not use it as given but rather refine and improve it.
1: Photo- Museum: There is a current buzz in the creative industry with more photographers, filmmakers, and people in the performing arts launching an aggressive feel for creativity. But amongst all of this, the one that truly has made an immediate impact and potentially can be easily done with very little capital is a photo-museum. How?
An Open Room: To do this, you need an open space, preferably painted in white, with a very clean design and open walls for displaying photos.
Cocktails: This is a very good way to raise money, you can either partner with a master cocktail provider, to serve each time there is an opening and whose cost is covered by RSVP cost.
Photographers: You do not need to be a photographer to do this, but I will advise that you partner with someone who is an expert photographer to co-fund the business with. This will help you research and source some of the most exquisite photos around and also help you pull the audience and community of lovers of photography.
Throw in sparks: As I type this I am smiling, because one thing I know that is easy to sell in Sierra Leone is “cool” and class but more so exclusivity. You would want to make your museum exclusive and fun as much as possible, with other activities including but not limited to guest musician performances, guest photographer show-cases, etc.
Revenue: This can go in different ways, from payment collected for reservations made, to sales of portraits, to photographers’ subscriptions. I mean if you can build this, you can sell it and hey…. I am always here to consult further.
2: Fruit Box: A more traditional business in Sierra Leone is the sales of coconut by the roadside in wheelbarrows, this practice has gone on for at least 20 years. The demand does not seem to be diminishing, what we need is a new idea or way to sell it. How?
Build a caravan like structure: This is where the majority of your initial capital will go, what you need is to get a trusted carpenter to build a not-so-big structure that has enough space for a fridge, stalls, and room for at least one person with wheels (this will help you easily move it from one place to the other). You can decorate,make it as vibrant and as your creative as your mind tells you to.
Flavours: One major reason why people stop by the roadside to get themselves a coconut, is mainly for its juice (water), so why not, give them added flavours ?served chilled and cold. There is nothing more refreshing than sipping your favourite drink chilled when you need it.
Branding: When I buy coconut by the roadside, I often wait for the seller to crack the shell open, before draining the juice and then requesting the coconut flesh. I do not do this because I need the convenience, so sell the convenience. If you can accelerate the process of cracking the coconut and extracting the flesh, allowing the customer to have the option of having a straw and a properly branded disposable cup with the juice and flesh, it will be amazing value addition.
Scale: This can easily scale to include other naturally on-the-go fruit juices, but more importantly you can easily scale this by creating a relationship with traditional sellers by mass-producing the stalls and branding part, while they sell the coconut and you take a commission, think of it as franchising but for coconut.
3: E-Health: The advent of COVID-19 has shown us, just how much attention we need to pay to our health systems . Plus the need to digitalise our systems is urgent and needs to be done as quickly as possible. While we can use technology creatively for health administration, making it accessible to private individuals makes it more powerful and lifesaving. How?
Build an online solution of aggregation: Build a system that can help private and public hospitals to easily access bottom-line data of patients to help diagnose and treat. What is needed is to aggregate key data like Name, Sex, Blood type, underlying health issue, allergies, and most recent treatment. Many people die from misdiagnosis and having a data centre to access patient history can help save lives. This is an institutional void and anyone that fill it will make a serious impact, save lives, and make a lot of money.
4: Heat Map: Fighting corruption is a big deal for a lot of countries and this is not an excuse for ours. There is a public war on corruption and rape, it is time to use digital solutions to help in this. How?
App development: Building an app that will put the power to its users to anonymously report corruption in real-time will make an incredible impact. No one wants to be considered corrupt or be associated with corruption, but unfortunately many are both within the private and public sectors. The heat map will help users to pinpoint businesses, known for bad practices creating a hot zone for unethical businesses.
5: Fashion Pace: The fashion industry is a buzzing one across the world, as people become more intentional to represent themselves and the African culture, a new spirit of being bold and beautiful is passing through. Taking advantage of this will probably make you the biggest distributor with owning any single brand. How?
Build a platform– Use digital solutions to build a hub of fashion designers in the country. You can use DIY sites to do this, by providing fashion tips, creating a catalogue of fashion statements from different fashion houses, while aggregating styles and costs, will easily make your platform the go-to-site for styles and tips, price comparison, and costs.
Build a community of fashionistas: On your platform, you want to build relationships with fashion houses and get them to share their dresses, tips, and costs. This will give them the needed visibility and give you the needed traffic required to run the platform.
Revenue– The beauty of a platform like this, is that it can generate money from different revenues, from sales of products on behalf of your featured designers and taking a commission to the advertising of their new products.
6: Pay-Go: The use of mobile payment is perhaps the most successful transaction currently across the country outside the exchange of physical cash. This opens up a huge market as mobile providers restrict these to their subscribers only, making it “impossible” to send money from one network direct to another without having to match network numbers. How?
Blockchain: Blockchain is a very powerful tool in innovation and tech that has made the impossible seem possible. You can use it creatively to bridge this gap. By creating a system that acts as a middleman at the bank end, you can get people to send money directly from orange to Africell without the need of either party being on the same network. This will create an instant convenience and will take away the pain of mobile money transfer.
Partnership: This I assume will require a partnership with mobile networks, but like the traditional mobile money agents that people need to walk up to or search for in their areas to make cross-network transfers, you can automate this by allowing your costumers to send money to one and other without the need to be on the same network.
I have, over-time thought of ridiculous ways to create impact. In this piece,I have provided a brief of some of the many easy-to-launch and low capital risk ideas in my archive. The main reason why I share this, is because I strongly believe that to be a successful entrepreneur in Sierra Leone, you should not only consider the Sierra Leonean market but must scale quickly to other Manor River Union nations; which gives you a larger market target.
If you are looking to start a business with any of the above, and need to consult me in building it and exploring more creative ways to do so, please visit www.sidi-saccoh.com.