Last night we got to attend the monthly Startup Junction at Protea Hotel by Arcades where people get to meet new people and network. There is usually a guest speaker and yesterday was no different as we had Mr Ceaser Siwale, investment banker and Chief Executive Officer of Pangaea Holdings Limited.
He is one of the leading entrepreneurs in Zambia, having had experience in global financing environments and looking for investment opportunities within Zambia. Pangaea Holdings is a platform that finances SMEs, entrepreneurs and other potential investment ventures in Zambia.
He said Zambia has a lot of resources, even referring to it as the Rolls Royce of the region, but that we do not use them properly or even fully so we need to start thinking of ways to explore other sectors, not just mining and agriculture as Zambia is mostly known. He also emphasized how important it is to have locally owned businesses that are successful because most of these are foreign owned and hence Zambia will never really reap the full benefits of the company’s profits. We need to figure out how to handle our own logistics when it comes to business and make sure it’s as successful as the foreign owned ones.
Ceaser Siwale mentioned how hard people struggle with constructive criticism whenever they set out to do something new. He advised young entrepreneurs to listen to because they really might be doing something wrong and hence should learn from it. However sometimes not all criticism is constructive so we should just keep our heads up and focus on our new business venture.
He then gave us 5 important points to stick to as young entrepreneurs:
- Chase your passion and not money: When you love what you do, good things follow, the money will come.
- Be around people who can mentor and inspire you: the wrong associations can and will bring you down.
- Form business partnerships: with people who are aligned with your business, not just for the sake of having a deal. Hang around like-minded people.
- Learn how to switch off and spend time with family and friends. You can’t be too busy to relax.
- Make sure your business idea works in the back of an envelope: That means you need to calculate all your logistics properly and have a figure for the cost of your venture that is more accurate than a guess but less than a formal calculation.
I then asked him if investment banking is what he’s always wanted to do and he lit up when saying “Yes”. It has always been a passion of his and his job excites him, which is what everyone should feel about their job and/or business.
As you can tell from the pictures the Startup Hour was alive with business enthusiasts getting to know each other and hopefully form successful partnerships. We look forward to the next. Be there and bring a friend along. To know more about the Startup Hour, click here.