Being an entrepreneur, being a mentor – Building great companies in Africa

Below entrepreneur Abel Asrat interviews mentor Donald Hagbe. VC4Africa’s Mentorship Marketplace links promising entrepreneurs with experts in various fields serving as business coaches. Can we connect more, both as entrepreneurs and as mentors? 

I first met Donald Hagbe after launching the Ethio Info Desk venture profile on VC4Africa. Donald Hagbe is a Cameroonian born world citizen who have had the privilege of coming from an entrepreneurial family that gave him the opportunity of living, working and studying all over Europe.

After studying Financial, European law, Business Economics and Financial Economics Donald decides to test the waters to see what life had written for him. Having worked for international companies while pursuing his endeavor to become a judge Donald realized doing things on his way is a true expression of himself.

Speaking about his business venture Donald explains: “I am currently the founder of MonDonald Group, which is multinational holding company with subsidiaries across 45 countries in 5 continents. Among those subsidiaries, Wivela Holdings is one of the biggest companies with activities across more than 15 industries and operations in more than 25 countries, 10 of which in Africa. At the MonDonald Group we invest in talented individuals and provide them the support from the very 1st conception of their idea, into making it a global phenomenon. As we speak, we are launching some development funds to support entrepreneurship and local start-ups across Africa as well as continuing our acquisitions across the world.”

Despite the broadness of the business industries Donald is engaged, today I focused more on knowing about his recent venture called Wivela Webservice and his experience as a mentor for VC4Africa

How did you become a mentor at VC4Africa ?

“How I came about VC4Africa is impossible to forget. With my experience in doing business across the world, and lately being investing more in Africa, I became frustrated with the fact that all these talented youths with brilliant ideas could not have a worldwide platform to share their experience and even more, gain knowledge from experienced business people as myself form around the world.

I sat down with my team and decided to plan and launch a similar platform as VC4Africa’s Mentorship Marketplace, and that is when while gathering ideas, we came across a young dynamic team in the Netherlands, captained by David van Dijk of VC4Africa. I became soon enthusiastic about the platform and decided to get in touch with David with whom we’ve had several meetings in Amsterdam to discuss Africa and its potential.

Soon after that, I decided to become a mentor and investor, and that is how I came across a formidable amount of young talented African, full with desire and passion for change and a prosperous future, lacking either some funding or strategic business knowledge.”

Besides your VC4Africa experience, tell us a bit more about the Wivela web service venture you just launched?

“I have been through the phase of being a start-up myself, and I have advised many more when I was working as a consultant as well as mentoring talented start-ups across the world. A recurrent limitation, beside the capital available at such an early stage, is the unaffordability of online services as website development, online marketing, hosting etc for most start-ups. Besides that, Being CEO of the MonDonald Group keeps me daily exposed to different economic situations across different cultures and countries. I used to wonder, and still do, about why some services are so expensive in one country in respect to another. It was not long after such thoughts that Wivela WebServices came about. I believe web services should be available to everyone. Every solopreneur, business, start-up, musician, artist should be able to share their service and talent with the rest of the world, without running out of finance before starting their entrepreneurial journey. That is why i decided to launch Wivela WebServices. Today, we are trying to bring all businesses online. Through great pricing, fantastic support, cutting edge technology, and desire to help and see businesses reach new heights.”

There are lots of similar ventures already presented and what makes Wivela a best alternate?

“I would never dream to say that we are the best alternative because we may not yet provide some services other companies do and it’s not on us but on our customers to crown us as the best alternative to meet their needs and solve their problems. However, I believe we are considerably different from other companies in the market. This is based on our product-pricing fit. We provide the very best at prices affordable for most entrepreneurs across Africa and the world. Also, we are working on bringing to life the most powerful online solution for businesses and entrepreneurs across the world. We are currently offering, web design, e-commerce services, analytics and hosting services which are being supported by SEO and Marketing services. That is just the beginning. In the coming months we are planning to expand our activities in providing online classes on different topics, such as marketing, strategy and business development, as well as providing multilingual assistance to companies and start-ups aiming at gaining access to foreign markets. Also, as you can see, we already provide consulting service among others, which is something new in the industry.” 

Who is your ultimate customer or market focus?

“With Wivela WebServices we target anyone in need of an online presence. Our services and products are designed in such a way to meet the demand of a bakery shop as well as that of a bank. We currently made the service available in Africa and some countries in Europe. In Africa, we have customers in 5 countries: Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, South Africa and Tanzania, and in Europe, the UK and Netherlands. But our strategy is mainly focused on developing countries, in Africa, South America and Asia.”

How long has it been since you started mentoring on VC4Africa?

“I’ve been a mentor on VC4Africa for about three years now and I can say that I have seen all types of colors. But my experience has ultimately been fantastic, and still currently is. I have helped many either by helping them shift their mindset, or by working together with them hand-inhand to get their idea to the market, or get their ideas to the next level. What strikes me the most in working with young Africans is their willingness to learn and work hard. Although faced by all sorts of limitations, either in infrastructure or business culture, their positivism is something the world should envy. There is no harder environment to grow a business as it is in developing countries. Despite all those hurdles, they fight and keep running to see their ideas come into reality. With the right mindset and help, I am without any doubt sure that the African youth will lead the world.”

This article originally appeared at LIONS@FRICA.

Want to get matched to a promising entrepreneur or a business coach? Check out VC4Africa’s Mentorship Marketplace.