Entrepreneurial Challenges in Africa: IFE Welcomes Alumnus Julien Munnia
On March 9, 2023 the Institute for Entrepreneurship welcomed alumnus and COO of ElephantBet SL, Julien Munnia, for a talk on the entrepreneurial challenges in Africa. Munnia graduated from JCU in 2017 with a B.A. in International Business and a minor in Entrepreneurship. In 2018, he moved from France to Guinea, Africa, to work as a commercial manager for EDITEC, developing various digital products for online sports betting and gaming centers.
A French-African, Munnia described himself as a “melting pot and mix of culture” resulting from the time he spent throughout western Africa. During the discussion, he expressed the importance of understanding the culture and market you are entering when you intend to start a business in another country. It is critical to take the time to learn about the history of a place, because by gaining a better understanding of the culture, you are able to adapt and participate in an empathetic way. You will also have the knowledge to speak and be perceived in appropriate ways and you will be able to build trusting relationships within the community.
In his experience, “relationships and who you know, equal money” so the ways in which you establish these relationships are important, especially when financing a business in Africa can be quite challenging. With bank loan interest rates nearing 15%, the entrepreneur is left to rely on family members to raise funding or they must seek to find a trusted and reliable local partner. The value of currency in Africa fluctuates quite a bit. Munnia explained that “the more corrupt the government, the more the local currency is devaluated” leading to higher, or even hyper, inflation.
Politics also play a large role, and Munnia stressed the importance of “having one foot in the door but never choosing a side” to ensure that you maintain stable relationships.
In closing, he discussed the importance of the “human side of business” and that helping the people you work with through compassion and understanding will lead to “reciprocity of respect” and result in loyalty. This applies to all aspects of business regardless of where you are.