The Power of Having Nothing.

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Ask any young entrepreneur/business owner what they need most to “succeed” and 9 out of 10 of them will say CAPITAL. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve come across stories that keep pointing in a different direction to this “truth”.

There is power in the lack of resources, for the sake of this discussion I’ll be referring to creative power. Some of the most powerful and financially successful people found themselves in situations of extreme lack that forced them to come up with unique solutions to existing problems.

To illustrate this, I’ll point to two examples.

Elon Musk – described by some as the real-life incarnation of Tony Stark, He is directly responsible for creating PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. The total value of these companies exceeds $1billion. However, few people know that there was a time in his life that he couldn’t afford a place to stay. Leaving his home of South Africa, he headed to Canada with an empty pocket and a heart full of dreams. Between doing odd jobs, paying off school debts, and dropping in and out of school, he created his first company called Zip2, which he sold to Compaq for $341 million

Another good example is Lebo Gunguluza, a South African entrepreneur of humble origins who operates in the media, entertainment, and hospitality industries. He is quoted as saying:


“Without funding, tenders, or loans, I had made my first million at the age of 27. That experience reinforced what I found out early on in business. You don’t always need money to acquire things – it’s often possible to use your resources and barter when you don’t have cash. It’s a principle I still live by today.”


Both of them are Africans (yes, I am laying claim to Elon Musk as an African) who found themselves in situations where the chips were against them. Despite the odds, they used what they had to create immense value for themselves and their customers. I believe it’s time for us as Africans to look within and see the huge opportunities disguised as obstacles that surround us every day.

In closing, I will paraphrase some words I heard from Mai Atafo.

“Africa needs more people who can take N50, 000 and turn it into N100, 000 and not people who can take N5million and bring back N8million”

For more “grass to grace” stories click here


Written by Bolaji Iwayemi Team Lead, Consumer Business Marketing at Pagatech Limited.


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