Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|April 27, 2022|7 Minutes|In Billionaire Today

Billionaire Today

“I have seen entrepreneurs that lie on stupid things”

Tech guru Rebecca Enonchong spent a sparkling hour talking to Billionaire Tomorrow founding editor Chris Bishop about her life, business and investments. Here are eight takeaways from our Billionaire Talks at the weekend.

1. Why women should be worried about the venture capital stakes.

“In 2021, it went down from what it was in 2020,so we are not doing better – a lot of it has to do with perception, the idea that women – you know, you never hear about the word microenterprise when you talk about men, you only hear about it when you talk about women. There are a  lot of these programmes to support women entrepreneurs are mentorship programs; so, we want to fix the women, we want to improve the women because they are not good enough. They’re not funding the women…You will always find these programs trying to fix the women, improve the women, change the women and make her better so they can be worthy and have a business. That whole way of thinking is driving funding.”


2. How important technology is in the continent.

“I am excited. I think we had a dream. I created an organization in the US with the African diaspora called the African Technology Forum in 2000, so 22 years ago we had a dream in the continent to create jobs and  to create wealth. I think we didn’t dream hard enough because you know when we came to look at the impact of global technology, oh my good ness – it is transformative…. millions and millions of jobs on the continent have been created through technology. It is a great lever to take Africa to the next level.


3. What is governments’ problem with tech in Africa?

“Government sees it as some young kids doing something and oh it is so cute – right ? A lot times when they think about start-ups, they are thinking about micro-enterprises, self-employment, rather than entrepreneurship – go be entrepreneurs so we don’t have to find jobs for them. But what they haven’t understood is that these start-ups aren’t meant to stay micro, they are meant to be gigantic companies. Many governments feel a little bit threatened by that: so, when they say they support start-ups is they support little tiny companies but they don’t want those little tiny companies to become giants. They see it as little kids doing kids’ stuff and they need to  respect the industry.”


4. Howl to haul your company up by its bootstraps

“We made $40 million US dollars over a period about four years in revenue. We started with nothing – I never got a line of credit from a bank, I never got any outside funding. We never received any venture capital of any type – angel funding or family funded it was really customer funded from day one. I went the first two years without a salary because everything we earned, I put it back into the company  And then I was never the highest paid person in the company, I always wanted to get the best talent that was very expensive.”


5. What does she look for when she is investing?

“Red flag number one is integrity. To me, if you lie on a little thing – don’t do that.

Like I get that you want to put your numbers in a really good light , or your business in a really good light – I don’t object to that. But don’t lie, and I have seen entrepreneurs that lie on stupid things : their education, their professional background. To me somebody who is lying is not somebody that I would want to invest in because trust is so important.”


6. How do you deal with governments in Africa?

“We have to dialogue. You find in governments there is always that one person that  gets it. Trying to find that one person and work with them and converse with them. I am allergic to government – everybody knows – but I have great colleagues who converse with government and carry my message in a more diplomatic way.


7. What is her advice to the entrepreneurs of Africa.

“Remain very positive. Don’t carry the weight of failure. We always talk about the fact that you can fail and you can start again. I think the hardest thing is to get over the failure psychologically and we don’t talk enough about that…Failure is traumatic, it is like trauma, like somebody died; so, sometimes you don’t have the strength to get back and  be positive again. You cannot carry the weight of that failure. I am a woman, a black woman, I’m and African woman I can’t carry the weight of that when I trying to build my business .


8. Also make sure your mother buys your books while you imagine a… crocodile?

“My mother did buy me boxes and boxes of books….I think it opened my imagination .I think books have this way of taking you into somewhere else. As a child I had an imaginary pet crocodile. I think that imagination came from all these books that I was reading and made it so that there was no end to imagination. I kept that imaginary crocodile for years and years and we even had a room in our house that was the crocodile room!”