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Where I Live, Entrepreneurs Are Afraid To Talk About Failure -- And It's Hurting Their Businesses 'Fail fast' may be a Silicon Valley motto, but that's not the case across Africa. Here, failure is often stigmatized. And yet, not talking about it is leading to even bigger failures.

By Idil Abshir

This story appears in the May 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Alissa Everett
Lesley Donna Williams in Johannesburg, near her Impact Hub business incubator.

Lesley Donna Williams saw the bus only a second before it made impact. She was driving fast across Johannesburg, South Africa, trying to make it to an important meeting, when she turned at an intersection without checking for oncoming traffic. The bus T-boned her. Williams was whipped around like a rag doll. The car was totaled.

That's when she did what she describes as "the most ridiculous thing." She got out of the car, surveyed the damage, called the cops, called insurance and went to the meeting.

These were stressful times at Williams' company, the Johannesburg arm of Impact Hub, a global network of business incubators and co-working spaces. She was pulling 16-hour days and feeling alone and adrift in a sea of risk. She barely saw her family. Friends had stopped calling. She felt sickly all the time. Her doctor told her that her immune system was compromised. She ignored him.

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