In February, I had honoured the invitation of moderating the Investor Forum at the annual Timeless Women’s Conference in Kigali, Rwanda which is one of the leading women empowerment conferences in Africa, and truly a Pan-African experience. Garnished with high-level speakers such as former First Ladies, Members of Parliament, Executives and Impact -driven Entrepreneurs, it was a convening that invited an opportunity to measure and see how Africans and those in the diaspora can do so in engaging discussions, and through that, create shared value.
Traveling to Rwanda for the first time, it certainly lived up to the expectation of it being one of the technology capitals of Africa. The moment I landed at Kigali International Airport, I was met with the warmest of service at the counters and my visa processed on arrival without any hassles. Before I knew it, it was time to get on stage at the two-day event, and moderate the investor forum which highlighted about Investing in Africa through themes including and not limited to Policy and Regulation, FDI and DFI, SMMEs, Digitization and Inclusive Capital Deployment. If anything to come out of the session, it’s that capital and innovation can’t solely be reliant on the private sector, government has to not only be visible in and during elections, but throughout the year, and so its work.
“Intra-Africa trade has been historically low. Intra-African exports were 16.6%
of total exports in 2017, compared with 68% in Europe and 59% in Asia,
pointing to untapped potential.” – World Economic Forum
“According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), under the African
Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), intra-African trade is likely to
increase by 52.3% by 2020.”– United Nations
Taking the above statistics into considerations, the engaged conference and traveling to one of Africa’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Hotspots and one of the five fastest-growing economies on the continent, inspired me to analyse and share the concept of CSV through the diaspore lens, and through the channel of lessons learnt through my few days in Rwanda.
An academic concept coined by Harvard Business School Professors Michael Porter and Mark R. Kramer and was introduced in 2011 in the Harvard Business Review article ‘Creating Shared Value.’, this concepts looks at the core of wealth creation through shared value. CSV asks the question of how do you capitalise the very capitalism to trade, scale and share in profits and social impact by not trading off the one for the other?
CSV has been proposed to be achieved in THREE ways, and that is by Reconceiving products and markets, Redefining productivity in the value chain and Enabling local cluster development. Let’s take a look at how we can enable. Nurture and catalyse the principle of CSV and dive into examples and proposals of such an effort:
- Reconceiving Products and Markets
The first of the three keys of CSV in unlocked in creating new products and services or markets that will serve the socio-economic needs identified. This is the opportunity for intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs to activate value through the channel of new product innovation, and/or integrate them in products and markets that already exist.
Market-creating innovation (innovation that doesn’t rely on post infrastructure society and the financial markets it’ll create) that will help close the infrastructure financing gap in the range of US$68-US$108 billion. We need to propel further access into education for this opportunity and retain young people as per Whitney Houston (I believe the children are our future) – we need to let them lead the way. We need to center the youth in these dialogues, we encourage that.
Examples of such innovations are crowdfunding platforms as open innovation tools for co-creation, startups changing the course of African innovation and a COVID-19 investor matchup tool for startups (piloting). These examples continue to call upon the power of collaboration, creating new products (new or incremental) and a desire for a new market.
- Redefining Productivity in the Value Chain
Creating new products is great, but how do we ensure that efficiency is created, monitored and evaluated on par with the excellence that the product is created with? The value chain in Africa disrupted by one of few mechanisms, that of which includes the role of government in actualising the full potential of its nations. Looking at channels to access, use and manage resources, energy, suppliers, logistics innovatively and to full potential, and more productively is a unique opportunity as it is a challenge. African leadership is more than unfortunately regarded for the moral decay in leadership. Africa needs to become deliberate about the type of leadership that the continent requires to continue to open the runway for investment. Transformational leaders who are thinking generationally.
The difference in policy and regulations is that sometimes the policy frameworks doesn’t gel as well as with the outcome of the policy. We need to ensure that the AfCFTA and its compliance will bear the fruit that the projections of impact are highlighting. Government must lead prioritize in creating an enabling environment where better policies and regulations can be established for not only the multinationals but the SMMEs – creating Startup Acts and executing AfCFTA (now delayed due to COVID-19).
- Enabling Local Network and Development
Over the course of the years, we’ve witnessed and some participated in the FDI and particularly the investment in education, youth and technology as we’ve seen with Andela, Africa Netpreneur Prize (with Alibaba and Jack Ma), the expansion of Facebook Developer Circles across African cities and Mark Zuckerburg’s visit to Nigeria – this trend is one of clear opportunity that has potential to alleviate many social ills of our society. Improving the local operating environment through skills development and development training will invite coding academies like GirlCode, startup competitions like Seedstars World, incubating organisations like Foundervine and government-led innovations like Kigali Innovation City and its collaborators to pave the way. This is nothing new for Africa, and the through the interconnectedness and shared passion across the diaspora, CSV can be leveraged for its economic benefits to serve.
Ready to Create and Impact Value?
When we refer to the industrial revolutions and mention the empires that changed the course of history, that of the African Renaissance is often eclipsed. In his book Tech Adjacent, engages on the pioneering continent that Africa was and still is when it comes to technology, research and development and innovation. This leads us to the statistics provided earlier on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and the need to develop mechanisms that something like 4IR can bring to radicalize economic value and growth.
So what will it take to tap into this value and create it? The secret sauce is Africa is in the continent’s true diversity, resources, youth, (cross sector) collaboration, intra-African trade, community and innovation.
Investing in Africa and the diaspora is a paradigmatic moment for the continent and is inviting various stakeholders including DFIs and independent investors from across the globe. AFCTA is the heart of investment confidence at present in interstate trade and development talks. Partnerships and collaboration are prime in executing the policy frameworks and projects, and conferences like these hotbeds for creating such opportunities.
Although the science of CSV is that it pays for itself and is Daviding the Goliath of capitalism, capital resource allocation is the root of why the scales are not balanced, and how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has come to pass. Also, in areas and communities where capital and its resources are needed for economic activity, a priority needs to place beyond championing the gift of food parcels. Africa and the diaspora can, are and will maximise the profit of nations and their organisations and continue to connect the thread and networks to inclusively innovate and develop for economic and development purposes.
You know how Facebook has the capacity create a credit risk profile for your bank just based on the amount data (that we all willingly share and open) they have on you over the years of being a user? In the same breathe, a couple of weeks ago I got reminded through a post that I shared four years ago of how far I had come, both in how many emojis I used in one word and my journey with Christ and in getting to know myself in this phase of adulthood.
My 23rd birthday is approaching in the next two months, and adulting has for the past few months been a prayer that In the absence of getting lost in my identity, may God pull up a mirror of His WORD to remind me of the falsehood of insecurity and the truth of WHOSE and WHO I am. The past year itself has brought upon so many blessings that have needed me to stretch and bend myself in a way that I thought I was incapable of doing. Blessings opportune moments met with preparation that had me, and still does have me utter words of gratitude for the opportunity to serve in love with passion and humility in the work that I do.
There is no right way of adulting. I have had the compass of failure, success and integrity to guide me through the past year. And to be transparent, I lose motivation and I doubt my worthiness and capabilities to see and carry relationships and projects to fruition, no matter how entrusted I am by other parties. It’s in these few things that keep my spirit afloat and comfort and secure me in my value to my purpose …
It’s in Marianne Williamson’s quote in one of my favourite daily devotional compilations, 365 Days of Miracles where she says "I will not deflect, diminish or invalidate my dreams today, or concoct excuses for why they can't happen.", that inspires me to dream even bigger. Having a word in the morning to start your day sets one on the right path to creation of what comes out of the tongue.
Doing this also allows me to strategize how I'll go to the King, how I'll go before God and prioritize my prayer. In this, applying His promises to my prayer life as He’s designed for me as I go before God's throne.
I pray your thoughts and faith rest in the overflow of God's Truth about your life. That His promises encourage you to dream dreams that are not confined by thoughts and time. I pray that like the infinite God I serve, that you operate your faith in the realm where ALL things are possible.
A Journal of Gratitude
We’re in Day 143 of 2017, how many things are you grateful for so far? Or rather, how many moments of gratitude have you miss because the bigger picture seems to be what hasn’t been conquered or happened as yet? What I’ve started doing is collecting and cleaning mayonnaise jars, and making those my Gratitude Jars. Each Sunday, I note something that I’m grateful for that’s happened the week prior, to keep my humility in check, and to validate the awesomeness and greatness that comes from the bigger purpose of my life.
I keep a record of opportunities and moments that I encounter in the week, it doesn’t have to be a promotion, it could be another woman in technology that I’ve met or the fact that I got to eat my favourite slice of carrot cake with a red cappuccino on a day that wasn’t going so well. It’s the little things that count.
Deliberate Digital Disconnect
It is also the big things that count, like staying away from my gadgets and WI-FI, I am a millennial after all. Jokes aside, it is SOOOO difficult for me to be separated from my gadgets, especially during the week, and not work. What I try and do to deliberate about disconnecting from the virtual world of work, is to not take work home, read a book, listen to great music, go flower shopping (it’s so therapeutic)and watch fantastic series like Billions, Scandal and Quantico.
This also serves as the opportune moment to invite and practise solitude and facilitate thoughts that you’ve consciously and unconsciously vacuumed over the course of a dedicated time period.
Believing in Myself and the Opportunities to Create
The past year has been such an inspired year for my career, and that could’ve only happened through the gateway of believing that I was deserving of the opportunities that I was creating and were created for me. In the past three weeks, I’ve had the opportunity engage UCT Graduate School of Business MBA students about Innovation, New Venture Careers and Corporate and Shared Business Value as it relates to Millenials and imparting Innovation and Data knowledge about career opportunities in STEM to high school students in Khayelitsha.
The value of relationships (including mentors and sponsors), and the social currency that it is, that I speak to in Networking Your Networth, has also been an accelerant in being where I am at present in my career and my spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth. I believe that one does not only speak and it comes to fruition, but what you allow the people in your circle to speak over you, there’s power in what you allow to be affirmed over your life, with your permission.
This brings me to intentionality, particularly over my finances. I believe now more than ever that discipline aside, anything that I’ve spoken over about my finances has come into fruition, including being broke. Saving is also no talk shop, it’s work, constant work that needs the discipline of a debit order of R100 (or whichever amount you’re able to allocate) every Friday into a fixed account. I’ve also kept in mind that saving is a carrier to the destination of investing. Save to invest, and invest to create wealth.
The relationship between money and self-esteem is great. So I’m quite aware and have become responsive in being very urgent in discerning when the temptation of insecurity creeps in because I’m not able to spend, or afford. Finance is one of the things in your life that can arrest many components of your life, and your blessings.
I’m hoping that this has been quite useful, and perhaps some tricks you’ll implement. I’d love to hear from you in how you tackle everyday adulthood.
Looking forward to engaging with you.