This entry is part 15 of 19 in the series Running a StartUp in a Crisis Economy

Dear Friends, Entrepreneurs, and Afro Hustlers,

Greetings and Happy New Year from the Afro Hustler team.

In 2018, we almost died, but we did not; and I’ll like us to talk about it.

Today is a very special day for me. It is a day I am inviting you all for a new conversation. Today, the 11th of January 2019, is my birthday. Yes, I am lucky to have my birthday on a Friday.

I am inviting you to this conversation, not because it is my birthday, but because, as Afro Hustlers, we need to have some very important conversations.

What conversations?

2018 was a rocky year for us all in Cameroon. The geopolitical crisis in Cameroon and her little cousin, the economic crisis, has been a pain in the head. For me, it was a very difficult year to navigate. However, we all have navigated through the crisis of 2018 into a new year. Some people prevailed, others failed, while others are still barely surviving.

A moment of silence to our community member who did not make it into the new year!!!

It’s important that we come together as a community of Afro Hustlers, to share our stories and ideas. To inspire each other and to ensure that we all can benefit from the lessons we learned in 2018.

At Afro Hustler, we have decided to dedicate the first quarter of 2019 to collect and curate stories of how entrepreneurs navigated through 2018 and share the lessons we can learn from them.

We will be doing this through submissions.

Back to my story

In June 2017, I left my job as Community Development Officer for ActivSpaces Buea and went in full-time as the Managing Director of a business I had founded ‒ Makonjo Media. When we began, business was good. We moved from 4 persons in July 2017 to 10 persons in December 2017 with offices in Buea and Douala.

January 2018 was even more beautiful. We were growing fast. ActivSpaces Buea even named us one of Cameroon’s fastest growing startups in Cameroon. By March 2018, we had grown from 10 persons to 22 persons in our team. We began making new plans to run a 100-man team by December 2018. Unfortunately, we are back to 8 persons.

What happened to Makonjo Media between August and December 2018 were a combination of a geopolitical crisis and my inability to predict the need for changes and act on them before stuff happened. I have learned a lot during this period as an entrepreneur. I know that many other entrepreneurs went through similar difficulties. And I will like us to learn and grow together.

During this period, I got into a deep depression which deeply affected my ability to communicate with friends, family, and business partners. I emptied all my frustrations into cups and cups of coffee. However, I am lucky to have friends and family who could see past my silence and offered words of inspiration and hope. Some offered more; vacation opportunities to Nigeria, Accra, and Malabo. As many of my friends already know, I chose Malabo.

Running a business in a crisis-ridden economy

The details around running a failing company are many. They are frustrating. Keeping the team together, getting people to work in the middle of insecurity, reduced work week, inability to extend work time when needed, handling skyrocketing taxes, keeping up with the bills, keeping up with payroll, running marketing campaigns, dealing with staff whose financial needs are growing drastically because the crisis has hit their family with poverty, and they have to help out ‒ a case which increases the amount of moonlighting ‒ the problems are many, and we faced as many as you can count.

We all faced these problems and we’re alive today because we solved some of them. None of us solved it 100%. In fact, I believe all of us are still facing some of these problems.

With respect to Human Resources, I did massive layoffs; it was not a great solution and if I didn’t innovate by finding new ways to manage remote work with the help of new work principles and digital tools like Slack, we would have died.

I will share in more details how we were able to achieve remote team collaboration with the Afro Hustler community. Also, I am inviting you to share your story about how you navigated through the crisis. I will like you to share some aspects of your business that you innovated on and how you did it.

Share your story with the Afro Hustler community

Today, I am doing a call for submissions from Afro Hustlers. We would like you to share your story on how you navigated through the 2018 crisis period and the lessons you learned. It could be on how you innovated on sales, marketing, branding, distribution, keeping your team motivated, accounting, taxes, scaling into new markets, or something we cannot even imagine.

We believe that if we share our lessons and learn from each other, our collective knowledge will make us crisis-proof; and if we become crisis-proof, then I will guarantee you that, as a community of entrepreneurs, we will succeed because together, nothing will be able to stand in our way.

We are ready to assist you to bring out your story to life and share with the community. You will be working with our team of editors under the management of Martha Njie, our Assistant Editor in charge of Entrepreneurship stories. If you do not have any stories to share, you can share lessons that will educate Afro Hustlers on how to run their businesses through crisis periods.

Let us begin the conversation. You can contact us through ah@makonjo.com or by WhatsApp: +237 677 243 603.

You can learn more about our editorial guidelines here. As a contributor, all your submissions are published under your byline. We will create an account for you. Our objective for you is that as you publish rich articles, you will develop thought leadership and subject matter authority in your sector.

Otto Akama
Editor-in-Chief, Afro Hustler.

English EN French FR

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