Shui, a Chinese entrepreneur, has plowing his way in Africa for over 5 years. During the pandemic, Shui imported tons of medical products from China to Nigeria at a reasonable price, providing local residence with more affordable supplies. This came from the resources he accumulated both in Africa and China, and his insights into the digital trend.
Shui’s entrepreneur journey began in April 2017.After working for a year and half in an e-commerce platform, 23-year-old Shui decided to resign and start his own business in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city. At that time, His vision was to build a laptop brand for young Africans.
Witnessed young Africans’ discontentment with laptop’s excessive weight and monotonous color in the local market, Shui created his own brand, ideabook, aimed to bringing lighter and more colorful alternatives at a lower price to Nigerians.
ideabook was a hit when launched，but the phenomenon did not last long. A growing number of consumers complained about products’ quality.
Recalling that experience, he attributed the two major problems Nigerian consumers frequently encountered to the lack of localization.
“First, the device’s mainboard, which had been tested in China thousands of times without any errors occurred, was easily burnt down with Nigeria’s unstable power supply. Second, it seemed impossible for the laptops to endure Nigerians’ unique commuting way – 12 passengers packed together in a minivan designed for up to 6 people.”
After the first try, Shui saw the possibility and turned into another field: real estate. Having had learned from the previous experience, this time he listed the localization issue as one of the priorities. This is not only limited to the unstable power supply, employees’ working habits is also a problem.
“Compared to Chinese, Africans tend to live their life in a more relaxing way, and this also happens in work. If I push working code, it will hurt employee’s enthusiasm towards work. But if not, it’s gonna be an impossible mission to manage the team and make the company run correctly.”
When Shui’s team was struggling with the problem, they discovered the Chinese digital company management tool, WeCom. With this asset, employees could achieve balance between flexibility and rigidity, working in an efficient and enthusiastic way.
For example, due to the unstable power supply, the computers and the punch-card machine could be off sometimes. By introducing WeCom, working process was no longer limited to local infrastructure. Besides, the built-in translation tool could help employees with different nationalities communicate in real time, and users could easily switch to Tencent Meeting if necessary. Using this productive working method, Shui’s real estate agency X-Home expanded to 6 stores.
It is not the single case of using digital tool in Africa. According to Shui, a great number of Chinese businessmen make use of WeCom as well as Wechat in African workplace to reduce administrative costs. The digital trend is actively playing an important role in the African continent, allowing people from different cultural background to better cooperate.
Now, Shui’s leading a medical technology company. Irrelevant as it seems to previous startups, he admits that digital technology still inspires him from time to time. At the moment, by means of Tencent Cloud and Tencent Qidian, his company is developing an online e-commercial interaction platform, which can comprehensively scan and digitalize off-line fairs, to engage purchasers and vendors through Internet. Purchasers can initiate online chats with vendors and even start video conference. If interested, they can add stores and products to their favorites. “These products can be masks and protective suits, as well as ventilators and oxygenator.”