Mshefa was born and brought up on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro in the northern part of mainland Tanzania. His parents were peasants who practised subsistence farming. The proceeds they got from there were used to buy the basic necessities and paying school fees for him and his other siblings. Through great sacrifice, his parents managed to educate him all through to college.
Mshefa managed to get a job in the capital city of Tanzania. What a cultural shock he got when he arrived there. He was used to drawing water from the well nearby or the river. This was the basic way of life around his home. You can imagine the shock and surprise he got when he found people drawing water from taps right inside the house. This is something he had never seen in his life and it took sometime for him to understand this strange phenomenon. After working for some months, he got a break from work and was able to travel to his village. He had so many stories to narrate to his agemates and the whole village. His arrival was akin to that of a celebrity. The whole village gathered to welcome back their son and to hear what he had brought back from the big city. All were spellbound and nobody wanted to interrupt his narrations. What blew them away was the issue of piped water. They could not wrap their minds around the whole thing. This became the talk of the village long after he had returned back to the city.
The company he worked for used to organize seminars where they invited speakers to give talks on various topics. One happened to be a renown entrepreneur who had businesses across the continent of Africa. He also happened to be the richest man in the whole continent. He spoke to them about ‘How to spot opportunities and utilize them’. He explained how opportunities present themselves as problems and challenges and how sporting them and exploiting them differentiates a successful business from others. It is at this point that an idea hit Mshefa’s mind. His mind raced all the way back to his village and right there he knew what he needed to do.
After working for a further two months, he took an official leave of two months. That weekend found Mshefa rolling up and down the hills with a lorry full of pipes of all sizes. After much work, commitment and sacrifices, his village finally had piped water in every homestead. All they had to do was part with a small fee which in essence was much taking into consideration that the village was heavily populated. It also served as an advertisement avenue for in no time, the other surrounding villages were also asking for his transformational services. The work load became so big such that Mshefa had to resign from his job in the big city to take care of the ballooning demand for his services. This also opened another avenue. Plumbing requires accessories and Mshefa being the only one having connections with the suppliers in the city, he soon opened shops dealing with the same in every town and shopping center. Within no time,Mshefa was raking in a very tidy profit. This opportunity had been there all the years but nobody had ever thought of it.
Many of us are victims of, for lack of a better word, mental blindness. Our eyes are open but we can’t see despite the fact that all these chances are right in front of us. Thomas Edison saw people were having challenges with lighting so he invented the light bulb. Bill Gates felt people had challenges with data so he invented Microsoft. Colonel Sanders knew people would require food on the go so he invented KFC. Daimler knew people would require faster and more comfortable forms of transport and out came the original Benz. Tarmacadem the inventor of the tarmac roads saw a need for smoother roads and he came up with the tarmac. We have modern inventors like the late Steve Job with iPhone, Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook, Jack Ma with Alibaba and many more. This small group of people control the wealth of the world for the simple reason – they are problem solvers. They offer solutions sometimes even before a problem occurs. They are always ahead of time and life never catches them unawares. My challenge to each one of us is to ask ourselves this: What relevance do we have in this world? Are we solution givers or problem creators? Problems are the package in which opportunity comes wrapped in. To read more posts by Mwangi, click HERE