Getting Down To The Business Of Understanding Bank Lending (Part 3)…

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I began by drawing up a list of all the banks in the country, and all the financial institutions that provided any kind of financing for small businesses. I began to research every single one; I wanted to know everything about them:

* How much money did they have?
* How do they make money, as a business?
* Who managed them?
* What was their lending practice?
* Which one is considered accessible, and why?

It was a research project that I developed at a time when there was no Internet, and very little public information. I was painstaking and thorough, and it took me months. I did not rely on hearsay because I am always professional about what I do, I always check out facts.

I completely changed my circle of friends; hanging out with other young business people, and always asking about how they raised money. If I heard there was a business meeting, I always tried to get in, and I was always taking notes. I spent hours every night at the local university library. I had become a student again! Oh how I wish there had been the Internet in those days!

I bought books and read articles about financing of small businesses. I soon had a whole bookshelf on the subject. I bought books on how to prepare business plans, and how to make presentations. I had to wait for months for some of these books to arrive. This is how I approach most things: I do my research.

I had determined in my heart that if only $1 was going to be made available from the whole banking system, it would have to be to mine! There would be no “hit and miss”.

…. In the next post, I will tell you, my next step: how I got the first loan.

After Thought 1:

This series of posts, is aimed specifically at those of you who are entrepreneurs. I hope those of you who are not will be patient, whilst I share insights from my own humble beginnings. Everywhere I go in Africa, I am asked by young entrepreneurs, how I was able to build a multimillion dollar enterprise. It is true that today, I can mobilize almost any amount of money for our company’s activities, but it was not always so. I started with only $75, raised from friends and a relative. It is my hope that I will be able to share with you stories from how I walked that journey.
Also bare with me, because I also have duties which demand my time. To give you an example, in just the last week, I have been on three continents.
Patience is “fruit of the recreated spirit”. Let’s do it precept by precept; step by step. We shall return to the many other issues that interest me, but now is the turn of the entrepreneurs: Africa’s next generation of “wealth creators”.

After Thought 2:

If you look at some of the most successful business people in the world, today, people like Bill Gates, whom I saw, only last week; they did not go to university. So not having a university degree should not be a handicap for you, at all. I have spoken before about the fact that some of the greatest opportunities today, are for people with skills in areas like mechanics, electricians, plumbers.
You already know how to use a computer, and search the Internet. So, you know how to research already. Use this skill to study about the areas that interest you, in developing your business ideas.

After Thought 3:

Kiwanuka Ali, Says: But sir what business can amere teacher do in this world?.bse we always lack business direction and funding.

I am saddened that you would describe one of the most honorable professions, Teaching, in such a way. You are not a “mere” teacher. We are all what we are because of what teachers did for us.
Education offers extraordinary opportunities for those who are entrepreneurially minded, even if their training is as teachers. The education industry is one of the greatest opportunities in Africa, where there are more than 400m young people. Education is not only provided by governments, and there are many people willing to pay for their children to have an education. The things you can do, in education, if you are entrepreneurial are almost limitless. I urge you to change your mindset on this, and not look down on your own profession in this way.

After Thought 4:

Lessons from the early days:
1. Acquire skills;
2. Hire the right skills, and pay them better than yourself;
3. Separate yourself from the business;
4. Pay yourself a salary. Don’t live off the business;
5. Stay focused on one thing, and master it;
6. Avoid conspicuous consumption;
7. Put the money back into the business.

After Thought 5:

In a few weeks, when I have finished with my series on how I funded the growth of my business, for entrepreneurs, I shall talk about how you manage your ideas. Ideas are the most valuable thing, in any country. They are more valuable than gold, oil, and diamonds. I have always said, and I will say it again:
“The true wealth of a nation is not found in the ground, but in the minds of its people”.
One of the things you never do, is to send your ideas and proposals to people, without adequate protection of those ideas. In our company, we never accept to receive proposals from people, that have not been vetted by lawyers. Please don’t send me proposals, as our lawyers will put them under seal, without opening them, and return them back to you.
God bless.

After Thought 6:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (The Living Bible translation)
The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. 
It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.

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