I want to tell you a story of someone I met last year on a weeks holiday in Egypt. It’s a place I travel to regularly, it’s easy to get to from Europe, is very warm and it’s inexpensive to live and travel there. The person I met was working as a receptionist/handyman in a hotel on the West bank of Luxor. It’s the more relaxed side of this wonderful town and is reached by a bridge or one of the freqent ferries that travel almost non-stop across the great river Nile.
The man’s name was Mohammed and he was in his early twenties and at first he seemed unremarkable. However Mohammed was about to leave his hotel for good and join the growing breed of digital entrepreneurs that are appearing all over Africa. Mohammed had realised that with the troubles and plummeting tourist numbers all across Egypt that he needed to find another source of income. But instead of looking at traditional routes, Mohammed had spent many hours in the internet cafe in Luxor searching.
His search wasn’t in vane – he discovered that lots of people were making money online through internet marketing. All you needed was a computer, a cheap web site and an internet connection. Mohammed had all of this albeit in a cafe but he also had a drive to succeed. He told me how he first met with failure but each time learned something knew. He eventually started making small amounts of cash which he reinvested in marketing tools, a US proxy – http://www.proxyusa.com/ and a web server.
It took him about six months to overtake his low earnings from the hotel but he was becoming self sufficient. He had unleashed the hidden entrpreneur which is often stifled in countries in Africa. The many barriers both financial, social and technical often conspire to stop people like Mohammed succeeding.
I spoke to him online last week – he’s doing very well and launching many new sites and products. He still makes mistakes he says, but is now beginning to see more successes than failures. I hope he can inspire more young people in Africa to use the internet to make a new life for themselves.