innovation is more than you think it is

Africa is the home of innovation.Lately you get the feeling that this is driven by the innovations centered around mobile usage and the growing mobile wallets that transact  multiple times above the GDP of the nations they are hosted in.

I love the Fintech space, because we get to call our sector a space, and generate lots of new buzzwords like Silicon Savannah. Facebook, Airbnb,  Uber, Mpesa, are all sexy businesses with millions of users. More importantly they are billion dollar businesses. They generate endless media excitement, and the executives who run them get to dictate what’s cool, whats hip.

Innovation has come to be associated with technology. But its short-sighted to think that the only innovation in a market revolves around mobile money services.  Yes they are revolutionary, they are game changers, and they are changing the ways in which Africans transact and conduct business.

But there are myriads of  creative expressions happening around us, everyday. Sometimes you need to look outside of your own industry to get into the nuts and bolts of creativity. Spend time asking how do the things you take for granted, work.

Recently i heard about a new brand of chicken on the market. Its driven by a farmer who has about 85 out-growers in small co-operatives and how  they are boosting the farmers production capacity to ensure growth in their margins per chicken. When you sit on your dinner table tonight, imagine this, some farmer somewhere is calculating how to grow their profit per chick from 0.30cts to 0.50cts through the kinds of feeding and care they implement on their farms.

Innovation mostly comes from small organisations looking to change the way in which they serve their customers. Its enabled by a growth mindset, a continual search to do  better than yesterday. Next time you see  news about mobile money providers and their innovative “new” idea skip that. They are most likely implementing whats already been done in another market.

The real innovation is happening everyday in the ways we interact with each other, in small companies  trying to gain a foothold in markets previously unknown. Changing rules daily, shaping opinions at the base of the market, if you listen keenly your next break-through idea could just come from a taxi ride to Domboshava!

 

 

 

 

 

take a leap of faith…

it has been an interesting year 2016 if you operate your business in Zimbabwe.  We have had the highest number of company closures since the hyper inflation period, a deflated economy, and the constant threat of uprising and its repression.

With 90% unemployment rates in the market, its only natural that many will venture into entrepreneurship, “the hustle.” No doubt if you have run any sort of business in Zimbabwe you can attest to why the country ranks among the bottom of nations with a low ease of doing business.

yet there are still many organisations thriving, and making a profit without making a splash in the news. Forget the top businesses, with the near billion dollar rankings and turnover. I’m talking your mom-n-pop enterprises, one man businesses that have stayed afloat and continue to invest in scaling their operations and growth in an economy that is sinking.  Vendors who despite the odds, have found a retail niche to provide for their families.

It takes a certain courage to wake up everyday in this environment and go out and pursue your business with a sense of optimism that you are going to win.  When nothing in the system is geared to help you win. Open your eyes, and you will find many pockets of innovation, enterprise and creativity that are keeping this market afloat.

All is not lost, the time to pick yourself up and invest in your idea is today. Get started, get cracking and go out into the market. Fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back on that horse. The successes  you hear of today were born from that spirit that is so prevalent in this region, getting something started.

Start-ups are gaining ground everywhere, from small retail enterprises, vendors, artists, musicians, cross-border traders. Start-ups as a word seems to have been monopolized by the tech industry, that people everywhere forget that the airtime vendor, that artist selling his designs at a craft fair are essentially also start-ups! All it takes is a leap of faith to build your business , one  brick at a time.