Last night was yet another Bongohive Insaka, hashtag #BHInsaka at Protea Hotel in Cairo Road, and it was graced by Mr Ceaser Siwale, entrepreneur and CEO of Pangaea Holdings, which is an investment banking and securities firm. We had previously written about him after he made an appearance at the Startup Hour in June so let’s see what other advice he has for entrepreneurs trying to establish their startup companies.
Ceaser Siwale, entrepreneur extraordinaire, started off by appreciating the meeting of like-minded people at the Insaka and then gave a brief outlay of his firm, Pangaea Holdings. Having served on major financing boards before and meeting a lot of people from different backgrounds, he saw a need for Zambia to get connected to other investment firms both local and foreign that can help provide capital/funding to smaller firms and even start-ups by entrepreneurs.
His company Pangaea had helped develop one of the first ISPs in Zambia which is MicroLink, before they went on to invest in Freshview and Mugg and Bean, helping to bring in capital into Zambia.
He stated that a lot of foreign investment and partnerships are waiting on Zambian ideas but we just don’t seem to have access to the right channels or don’t have a proper proposal in place. That along with the fact that Zambia seems to rely a lot on agriculture i.e maize farming to sustain a major part of the economy, when we really should be looking into other ventures. He added on that some time before this year ends a development conference will be held that will help bring out non-traditional aspects of business sectors that Zambia can focus on, so entreprenuers are welcome to attend it when a date is set.
After his speech the crowd asked him the following questions:
Q: What should one look for when choosing a business equity partner?
A: Like-mindedness. There is nothing better than getting on the same team as someone who sets the same goals as you do for your business, or even higher ones.
Q: Have you partnered with franchises and is that a good step for entrepreneurs in Zambia to take?
A: Pangaea Holdings has partnered with some like South African franchise Mugg and Bean and so far it has worked out. Franchises are a good way to go if you can prove to them that their product will be handled well by you in that area, that area being Zambia. Pangaea plans on getting more franchises to Zambia this year and plans are underway for an American one that isn’t even yet in country like South Africa where such things go first.
Q: How can Zambian entrepreneurs with startup ideas be encouraged to actually start up?
A: They should get rid of fear and just do it. They may have a passion but fear having to go to pitch it to potential investors. There is a saying that goes ‘invest a dollar in Zambia and get out 10’. But who’s owning that 10? Develop your passion into a business you’re happy working for. I had a passion for Freshview and invested in it. Hopefully we get it to spread the brand all over Zambia. Sometimes even your family and friends can help you get started. Maintain good relationships with the people on your team because you might still need them later.
Ceaser Siwale closed with the remark that Zambians just need to change their mindset about what areas they can do business in. Take infrastructure for example, which is developing really fast in Zambia. We need to shift from the traditional agricultural ideas only and look elsewhere.
Well that’s a wrap from Mr Ceaser Siwale for now but if you want to attend the next Bongohive Insaka and get some inspiration or contacts, register at www.bongohive.co.zm.