Should You Complain More?

(Eric Halsey) #1

“In Africa, w’re used to a ‘it’s good enough’ culture, we accept bullshit more than anyone else. We don’t complain enough.”
-Teddy Rouge, Founder of Raintree Farms, Co-founder of and Hive Colab

In talking with so many African entrepreneurs, this statement by Ugandan Teddy Ruge really stood out. It’s not a problem we heard about from anyone else, but Teddy’s thoughts on it are persuasive. So, it’s time you asked yourself “Should I complain more?”

##“It’s Good Enough” Culture

In this criticism, Teddy points out that the culture of accepting things as they are really hurts the ability of African businesses to adapt and compete with foreign businesses. Though, it has to be pointed out, this is different from insisting everything be perfect. Modern startup ideas like minimum viable products are still important. The difference is insisting that quality always improve instead of accepting it where it is.

##Asking for Permission

“People are not self starters, they always want permission. You have to create spaces where discussions can be had to break that mentality and not ask for permission. Go from ‘may I do this?’ to ‘I’m going to do this’”
-Teddy Rouge, Founder of Raintree Farms, Co-founder of and Hive Colab

Ironically, while Teddy is talking about Ugandans in this example, it applies to many workers around the world. Creating spaces where employees feel they can take the initiative is an element of success in many of the businesses we’ve talked to. It’s also one of the ideas of the Hive co-working space in Kampala which Teddy helped to create. Spaces like this allow workers to develop their own culture.

##Sharing Success

“Share your successes with others, share what you’ve done and inspire people. That is done through storytelling of our successes and failures. We don’t talk enough about our failures because we’re afraid of being laughed at. If you’re truly tenacious about your vision, you’ll pivot out of that failure and make something better.”
-Teddy Rouge, Founder of Raintree Farms, Co-founder of and Hive Colab

Tied in with all of the cultural elements mentioned above is the idea of not being ashamed of your failures. In fact, you’ll notice that many of the lessons we’ve produced mention where African entrepreneurs have failed. Because those failures can teach something to you and those around you. For Teddy it comes down to seeing those failures in context and making sure you draw the right lessons from them to do things better next time.

Combined, Teddy’s advice for his fellow African entrepreneurs is to complain more, don’t ask for permission, and proudly share both your success and failure.