Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Africa-Bata Shoe Story

One of the most famous motivational stories on the entrepreneurial circuit is that of the shoe salesmen from competing companies who are sent to a Africa to assess the market for shoes. Read about it:
At the end of the nineteenth century, just as colonial Africa was opening up as a market, two competing shoe manufacturers in Victorian England sent their representatives to Africa to see if there might be an opportunity there for their wares.
Salesman One scouts around for a few days and then heads for the telegraph office to contact company headquarters.  He writes:  "Research complete.  Unmitigated disaster.  Nobody here wears shoes."
He went back and reported ‘Nobody in Africa wears shoes. So, there is no market for our products there.’
Likewise, Salesman Two from Bata does his research and heads for the same telegraph office.  Once there, he composes the following: "Research complete.  Glorious opportunity!  Nobody here wears shoes!" 
He came back saying, ‘Nobody in Africa wears shoes. So, there’s a huge market for our products in Africa!’
And that’s why signs promoting Bata appear all over Africa, even in the remotest of spots. It’s why Bata’s shoes are known as the shoes of Africa.

The point, of course, is that Salesman Two from Bata is the real entrepreneur, the person who sees opportunity where others do not.  It's a story designed to motivate us all to see potential, take risks, and to turn obstacles into opportunities.


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