Sierra Leone is often described as a web of social networks. One thing that we have learned is that there are many entrepreneurs in Freetown and beyond, and this web of social networks play a significant role in how this loose ecosystem is sustained. It’s understood by small and large businesses alike how these networks work and it also frustrates new entrepreneurs who try to operate outside of these networks. It is a very traditional way of doing business. There are practical, historical and cultural reasons why the Sierra Leone entrepreneurial ecosystem may not take on the character of Silicon Valley, London, Tel Aviv and even Silicon Savannah in Kenya. Impact Hub has a role in shifting this traditional way of doing business and opening the space to allow innovation to happen in a dynamic way.
Our approach is simple and based on studies of similar entrepreneurial markets with small start-up communities. These markets have relied heavily on their competitive advantages in order to build the start-up community and have used this base to expand into new markets. In Sierra Leone, those areas are mining, tourism, the natural harbor, and the high human capital available in the youth and young adult populations. We also have some inadvertent areas that we cannot ignore such as health, education, agriculture, and manufacturing.
This is the approach that seems appropriate, sustainable, and that will lead to successful businesses that will have positive social impact. We are excited to have Impact Hub in Freetown and to work with many of you in the coming years.