One of the most recognisable names within the African technology scene is Rebecca Enonchong, a Cameroonian-born tech entrepreneur.
As founder and CEO of AppsTech, a global technology provider of enterprise application solutions, she has dedicated her career towards promoting tech in Africa.
This truly innovative woman enjoys international fame and success today despite her identity as a black African woman entrepreneur.
But life had not always been that rosy or even perfectly aligned for her. As most people do, she had her fair share of challenging experiences when starting off.
How then did she succeed against the odds of being a ‘unicorn’ in a predominantly male tech space? It all dates to her experiences as a youngster.
A change in circumstance is not necessarily a bad thing. “If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade out of it”, is the popular saying.
Speaking about how she navigated the tech space as a much younger black woman on Tedx Talks, she said, ” My experiences and life prepared me for the challenges”.
Growing up as a privileged daughter of a well-known wealthy parent in Cameroon, it was humbling to transition into a hard and difficult life as a newspaper subscription seller in a neighborhood in America.
Remarkably, though, she made the best of her situation. She said, “My circumstances changed, but I remained who I was. I remained as stronger as I’d been.”
Tools that Enonchong gained from her experiences
Understand your market
As a salesperson, she learned first hand the necessity of understanding one’s market.
Describing her prospective subscribers as ” Archie Bunkers” being disinclined to open the door to a black African, Enonchong said, ” I had to find a strategy to make sales”.
Using this same tool when starting her business proved successful. Having understood her market, she said, ” I had to figure out who my Archie Bunkers were. In this case, they were multinational companies”.
Put the product first
Applying the first principle does not guarantee instant success. Enonchong put her product first even in the face of many rejections.
She wrote down all the excuses she received from would-be customers and found solutions to each one, arming herself with convincing arguments that would help her sell.
As a tech entrepreneur, she had to overcome the challenges of being new, female, and black.
She said, “I productised services. I no longer presented resumes. I said, “You have these problems, these are the solutions. If it works, you pay us; if it doesn’t work, you don’t pay us.” That was so innovative back then”.
Hire the Michaels
Back in those days, Enonchong worked with a talented and charismatic colleague, Michael, from whom she learned to refine her skills as a salesperson.
Having experienced that others have more abilities, expertise, and techniques to achieve sales, she employed the same strategy.
“We brought in the Michaels. You don’t envy the best, you learn from the best, and you apply these to your business”, she concluded.
Featured Image: Rebecca Enonchong, founder and CEO of AppsTech
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