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Mobile Telecommunications: Two Entrepreneurs Enter Africa

Abstract

Winner of the 2014 EFMD competition for best African Business case.

In the 1990s, two entrepreneurs made daring, early entries into mobile telecommunications in Sub-Saharan Africa, both seeing great market opportunities there. One firm, Adesemi, would ultimately go bankrupt. The other firm, Celtel, would ultimately succeed and make its founder, Mo Ibrahim, a star of the global business community. Why the difference in outcome? Emerging markets often present weak rule of law, bringing many challenges to business success from the demand for bribes to regulatory obstacles, hold-up problems, and even civil war. This case explores strategies that can limit these critical non-market risks in foreign direct investment and entrepreneurship. Students will step into the shoes of both companies by exploring their entry strategies, wrestling with the challenges they faced, and diagnosing the reasons why a shared insight about a new business opportunity turned out to be prescient and led to extremely different endpoints.

Type

Case

Author(s)

Benjamin F. Jones, Daniel Campbell

Date Published

Citations

Jones, F. Benjamin, and Daniel Campbell. Mobile Telecommunications: Two Entrepreneurs Enter Africa. Case 5-413-758 (KEL805).

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