Tuesday, December 7

Insights into the challenges of entrepreneurship in developing countries.

HBS Working Knowledge :

When Liberia-born Monique Maddy (HBS MBA '93) started Adesemi to offer users throughout Africa a wireless system of pagers and public pay phones, she believed that tremendous pent-up demand would launch her company to success. But in fact, the company eventually had to be liquidated, a casualty not only of internal miscalculations but also of the bureaucracy, corruption, and environmental factors faced by start-ups in Africa and other developing countries.

But not all was lost. Maddy told her story in the memoir Learning to Love Africa: My Journey from Africa to Harvard Business School and Back, published earlier this year. And now she is working with global corporations to overcome the environmental obstacles she faced and to create a business development that will bring a wide range of consumer products and services to middle and lower income segments of the African population.

From her Cambridge, MA, home, Maddy shares her thoughts via e-mail about bureaucracies, challenges, and opportunities presented by Africa.