Africa Day

David Lanre Messan with Skydive Crew

Africans are celebrating the enormous promise and potential of the continent through a new lens. To mark Africa Day 2022  and honor the doggedness and innovative spirit of African founders and entrepreneurs, David Lanre Messan (DLM) is taking to the skies to fly out of a plane! David is a startup builder, investor, and the Founder and CEO of FirstFounders Inc.

Formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day, Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity on 25 May, 1963. An organization initially founded to encourage the decolonization of several African nations still under colonial rule at the time. Representatives of thirty African nations were hosted in Addis Ababa by Emperor Haile Selassie. In 2002, the African Union Replaced the OAU. However, the renamed day of celebration (25 May) continues to be celebrated by Africans in Africa and around the world.

With guide about to fly

Today, Africa day is set aside to celebrate the continent’s socio-economic achievements and strong cultural diversity, in line with the theme set by the African Union. Each year, a theme is picked by the AU for the celebrations. Last year’s theme was “The Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.” The theme for Africa Day 2022 is “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent.”

Speaking with David who recently became a Fellow at the James Currey Society, he said skydiving has always been something he wanted to try and that now felt like the best time to do it. He believes that anyone who can fly from a plane can do anything and that the confidence boost that comes after is something he needs for the next phase of his career.

In the air with guide

A lot is going on in this year’s celebrations including the launch of Youth.Heritage.Africa. According to the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) Youth.Heritage.Africa seeks to empower young heritage leaders and connect them through innovative strategies and initiatives aimed at  making their heritage a source of economic and social opportunity for them.

The Africa Day Concert is another notable event that’s been organized by YouTube to celebrate the big day. YouTube recently released an extensive list of some of Africa’s biggest celebrity acts and other entertainment stars from around the globe that will grace the show this year. English actor and producer, Idris Elba, has been selected to host the event. Representing Nigeria on the global stage is Davido, alongside Yemi Alade, D’banj, Ckay, Mayorkun, and Reekado Banks.

Skydiving for Honor and the African Business Landscape

There are sports and then there are extreme sports. Unlike regular sports like football, tennis, and basketball, extreme sports such as skydiving, paragliding, free diving, and the likes, are reserved for the bold and daring among us. Only those who are comfortable with being uncomfortable venture into these dangerous and exhilarating activities.

On the plane 

It’s no surprise that most people stay away from extreme sports. They usually require a lot of courage as the risks involved are far from minimal. That is why precision and quick decision making are some of the must have skills for extreme sportsmen. In summary, it is safe to say that individuals who muster up enough courage to participate in these daring activities can take on anything life throws at them, including the unpredictable path of entrepreneurship.

Speaking with David, who recently became a Fellow at the James Currey Society, he said skydiving has always been something he wanted to try and that now felt like the best time to do it. He believes that anyone who can fly from a plane can do anything and that the confidence boost that comes after is something he needs for the next phase of his career.

Just like most people stay away from extreme sports, people generally avoid entrepreneurship and it’s no surprise since both concepts share a lot in common. Both are for the brave of hearts, exceptional skills are required to succeed, and a lot of risks are involved. However, the reward and feeling that comes with success in both these endeavors is beyond anything you can imagine.

In the air with his guide, arms open wide

Entrepreneurship is generally not an easy path to walk, regardless of which part of the world you find yourself. As we’ve mentioned earlier, it is mostly plagued with uncertainty, especially when entering a newly discovered market or carving out your own niche. You’re almost always in need of cash and each day presents a new challenge that’s totally different from the previous one, leaving you constantly on your toes.

That said, being an African founder in Africa is certainly one of the most challenging journeys that an African can embark on. Aside from the lack of infrastructure necessary for businesses to thrive, the purchasing power of the average consumer in Africa is relatively quite low. As a result, companies often have a lot of work to do in terms of pricing and finding a healthy profit margin.

Another consequence of this is an increase in marketing spend or budget. Since the average consumer can’t afford most products and services, companies end up spending more to acquire a smaller consumer base that can comfortably afford what they offer.

There’s also the challenge of finding skilled labor which according to a report released by World Bank in 2017, has increasingly been rated by firms as one of their most binding constraints in doing business in Africa. This lack of skilled labor in the African workforce can be traced to the misalignment of skills taught in higher educational systems and the skills necessary for success in the workplace. To that end, businesses have to pay top dollar to hire from the relatively small pool of talented professionals capable of getting the job done.  

Finally, tough government policies and regulations contribute to the difficulty of doing business in Africa. The regulatory landscape is ever changing and businesses have to adjust whenever these policies are passed in order to retain their license and do business freely within the country. While we’ve seen many countries make some progress in improving the ease of doing business within their borders, we can all still agree that a lot can still be done.

But despite these and many other challenges that African founders and entrepreneurs have to battle with continuously, giant strides are being made. Africans are tenacious and they never give up. As challenging as the African business landscape is, startups across the continent pulled in over $4 billion in investment, across 355 funding deals in 2021.  

About to land 

FirstFounders Inc, a venture studio in Nigeria Founded by David, is one of many notable tech companies that is empowering more African entrepreneurs to actualize their business goals through Business Model Development, Product UI/UX Design, Product Software Engineering, Growth Channel Development, Fundraising Tour and Mentorship/Startup Advisory.

As a leader of leaders, the startup is equally building the startups that will transform the continent being laser focused on its mission, “We are on a mission to build, scale and fund 1000 startups by 2032 with 200 of them becoming unicorns”, says the highly renowned CEO. 

Landing from the sky

Great leaders often know how to lead other leaders. Africa requires entrepreneurial leaders to harness the massive opportunities in the continent and to compete in the global marketplace by making the bold decisions that create sustainable impact. Perhaps, Skydiving is an excellent way to harness such boldness. When we are bold, we instigate growth, progress, and movement for ourselves and those around us.

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