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march 2014 AFRICA Trend Bulletin
Fostering Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
SEED FUN: Driven by ability, curiosity or necessity,
and facilitated by new digital platforms, schemes
and initiatives, Africans are busy creating, hacking,
competing, combining, inventing and reinventing almost
everything. Organizations that fuel this endless rush
towards - and participate in - SEED FUN will attract
love and attention from all consumers, not just the
individuals and startups they help.
DRIVING THIS TREND:
1. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
New solutions to large-scale, lingering problems.
2. Start up revolution
Shunning the rat race.
3. THE RACE FOR AFRICA’S SILICON VALLEY
The rise of tech cities, hubs, accelerators, incubators, initiatives and more…
4. GREY MARKET REMIXED
The extension, upgrading and formalization of the informal economy.
RAGE AGAINST THE
New solutions to large-scale, lingering
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
Heightened awareness of government corruption, corporate
scandals, ineffective infrastructure and public services,
mean that more daring Africans are determined to leverage
their own problem solving powers by transforming everyday
pain points into new business opportunities.
Africans today are even more empowered
with accessible technologies and tools to
create, connect, share and bring their ideas
Shunning the rat race.
start up revolution
Self-Employed Beats Unemployed
Outward looking, business-minded, tenacious and rebellious
young adults are increasingly opting for entrepreneurial
opportunities that allow them to shape own career paths,
rather than wait for an uncertain one dictated by others.
The African Dream
A new generation of enterprise-minded Africans are
eschewing the corporate ladder for startups, and trading
the traditional status attached to a corporate job for a new
version that comes with staking everything on a big idea or
Only 14% of African entrepreneurs believe
that schools devote enough time to
- Omidyar Network, April 2013
In December 2013, Ugandan
businessman Ashish Thakkar was named
the world’s best young entrepreneur.
- The World Entrepreneurship Forum, December 2013
Bye bye Bill Gates…
Entrepreneurial success stories are homegrown now.
The 2013 Forbes list of world
billionaires named Nigerian
cement tycoon Aliko Dangote,
worth an estimated USD 16.1
billion, the richest black man on
- Forbes, March 2013
THE RACE FOR AFRICA’S
The rise of tech cities, hubs, accelerators,
incubators, initiatives and more…
THE RACE FOR AFRICA’S SILICON VALLEY
Ghana’s Hope City, Nigeria’s Eko Atlantic, Kenya’s Konza Techno
City, the list goes on… African governments and large-scale
developers are increasingly obsessed with creating environments
that are conducive to facilitating local, groundbreaking innovations.
This is not only about mega tech cities but also about all other
facets of the entrepreneurial ecosystem: venture capital firms,
innovation incubators, collaborative workshops, angel investors,
crowdfunding platforms, startup competitions, support, mentorship
“African hubs are springing up at the rate of
nearly one every two weeks…”
- Africa Renewal, May 2013
In Sub-Sahara Africa, the perception that
individuals have the skills necessary to start
and successfully run a business averages at
76%. This figure is substantially higher than
all other regions around the globe.
- Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, November 2012
Extending, upgrading and formalizing
the informal economy.
GREY MARKET REMIXED
Thanks to the informal economy – embodied for many by
traditional outdoor markets, street hawkers, and non-franchised
resellers – many African consumers are already equipped with
an enterprising spirit and an ability to handle a fluid economic
environment. That means a smooth transition into a (often
digital-fueled) entrepreneurial ecosystem that is all about
enterprise and connection, and in which startups are judged by
their ability to solve tangible problems and improve lives.
60% of sub-Saharan Africans agree that
to successfully launch a new venture, it
is acceptable to begin by operating in the
- Omidyar Network, April 2013
Kenyan household incomes increase between
5 and 30% for those who adopt M-PESA.
- The Economist, May 2013
Just a few of the brands and businesses already having SEED FUN.
Prize showcases the best of
Africa’s young entrepreneurs.
Anzisha Prize acknowledges young
entrepreneurs across Africa who
have conceived new innovations
and started impactful businesses
in their communities. In April 2014,
selected finalists will be treated to
an all-expenses paid, week-long
entrepreneurial workshop in South
Africa, as well as funding and other
Startup competition launched
during Social Media Week Lagos.
In February 2014, Nigerian online
entrepreneurial publication TechCabal
hosted its first edition of TechCabal
Battlefield. The competition, which
ran during Social Media Week Lagos,
challenged early stage startups to present
their ventures to an audience of users,
geeks and investors. Prizes included
funding, contributed by major brands such
as Stanbic IBTC Bank, Etisalat and
Hubs in Africa
Zambian website maps every
technology hub and innovation
center in Africa.
Hubs in Africa, powered by a Lusakabased technology hub, BongoHive, is an
online platform that digitally maps all
of Africa’s other innovation and hacker
spaces. Hubs in Africa also curates
content such as news on the startup
Three years after launching, with over 10,000
members and 152 companies spawned
from the community, Kenya’s iHub became
the first African technology hub to make
FastCompany’s ‘Most Innovative Companies
- Fast Company, February 2014
Zimbabwe opens its first
November 2013 saw the launch of
Zimbabwe’s first technology hub,
Hypercube. The hub aims to encourage
innovative solutions ‘with meaning’ by
focusing on these four dimensions of
technology: community, co-learning,
co-working, and co-innovation.
IBM: Project Lucy
Multinational tech firm launches
Pan-African project to boost
February 2014 saw IBM announce Project
Lucy – a USD 100 million investment
initiative for developing business
opportunities in Africa in conjunction with
local universities, development agencies,
startups and clients. With the intention of
solving key issues through commerciallyviable ventures, IBM will exploit ‘Watson’,
their pre-established cognitive system,
via multiple research laboratories across
Global maker workshops
encourage young Africans to
solve local problems.
In January 2014, mobile invention hub
HacKIDemia won funding to implement
Afrimakers – an initiative aimed at
empowering ‘African makers to develop
sustainable projects and use making to
solve local challenges.’ Maker workshops
for over 1000 children in 10 countries
such as Rwanda, Botswana and South
Africa have been implemented.
Nigerian Serial Entrepreneurs
initiate USD 1 million investment
into Lagos-based startups.
In May 2013, Spark, a “company builder”
organization founded by Jason Njoku,
Bastian Gotter and Mary Remmy-Njoku
of IROKOtv fame, initiated a USD 1
million investment into Lagos-based tech
startups. In February 2014, one of Spark’s
initial investments – bus ticketing service,
bus.com.ng, became Nigeria’s largest
bus travel website.
Rwandan tech hub partners
Founded in Kigali, Rwanda’s first tech
innovation hub, kLab, announced plans
in September 2013 to collaborate with
universities in order to reach a broader
demographic. The kLab Campus
Program aims to provide mentorship,
training and a location students or
graduates can benefit from. kLab
currently boasts 80 members and 11
Nigerian Ministry of
Nigerian government launches
open data development
January 2014 saw the Nigerian federal
government launch the Open Data
Development Initiative in an attempt
to drive innovation, investment and
economic growth by enabling access
to government data. The Initiative aims
to make available high value public
sector datasets to Nigerian citizens,
entrepreneurs and businesses, for free.
E-commerce platform connects
Kenyan Artisans with global
In October 2013, Africa’s first mobile
marketplace, Soko unveiled its Kenya
Collection, connecting global shoppers
with Kenyan jewelry artisans. The
e-commerce platform not only
empowers skilled craftspeople based
in developing communities traditionally
disconnected from the digital economy,
but also ensures that all materials used
are natural and upcycled.
brand supports young
In January 2014, Tawanda Chitiyo
– founder of PR agency: Empire
Communications, revealed plans to provide
PR and media support to Zimbabwe’s
tech startups. Young entrepreneurs will
be targeted in the country’s rural areas,
farms and marginalized areas. Empire
Communications intends to introduce
mobile web advertising, interactive text
messaging, and other more engaging
communications strategies for these
Bank partners with e-commerce
platform for Nigerian
In Q4 2013, FirstBank Nigeria collaborated
with social commerce platform 3AL. 3AL is
an online self-service platform that enables
entrepreneurs to create an online store and
interact with customers. FirstBank securely
processes payments through their own
FirstEConnect gateway and purchased
items are delivered directly to customers.
First crowdfunding platform to
support African entrepreneurs
Launching in March 2014, Jumpstart Africa
is an Africa-specific crowdfunding platform
that will allow foreign investors to financially
support innovative projects and ventures
developed by African entrepreneurs.
Jumpstart Africa will contribute 10% of total
profits to a curated selection of charities
focused on developing Africa.
organization sends South Africans
to the UK for best practice program.
In February 2014, South African entrepreneurial
development group MEDO welcomed back 12
new businesses from the International Trade
Programme in the UK, after sending over
14 South African entrepreneurs in 2013 for
the program. Beyond exposing the selected
entrepreneurs to global entrepreneurial best
practice and resources, the initiative also aims
to trigger partnerships between UK and South
European project documents
Africa’s startup scene.
Between September and November 2013,
a group of developers and designers from
Europe traveled to Africa for AfricaHackTrip,
a project documenting the African startup
scene. In an effort to bridge the gap
between entrepreneurial communities
globally, the project participants met 10 key
hackers from the region and showcased
African hacking culture on the site.
African entrepreneurs launch
startups on a roadtrip.
In November 2013, StartupBus began
a road trip for the first time across the
southern region of Africa. The goal for the
15 African and 15 international participants
(known as ‘buspreneurs’) was to conceive,
build, and launch their startup.
Online platform connects global
investors with African startups.
Globevestor connects international
investors with emerging market startups.
The online platform boasts a diversified
portfolio and pre-screens startups to ensure
high-impact investments. Globevestor is
free to join and receives payment upon
completion of successful investments.
Canadian university offers
placements to South African
Canadian Ryerson University announced in
February 2014 that they would be accepting
exceptional student entrepreneurs from
South Africa. The initiative will provide
these aspiring entrepreneurs with a three
or four month placement at a Ryerson
incubator zone in Canada, where they would
have access to mentorship, office space,
networking and collaboration opportunities
with local startups.
Now is the time for all brands to join in the SEED FUN!
KNOCK DOWN THE BARRIERS TO ENTRY
If you truly want to be the disruptive brand in 2014 that offers supports to the risk-taking early stage
Identify any remaining barriers to entry for entrepreneurs within your sector, and knock them down…
BE A CHEERLEADER
Think creatively about how to encourage local startups.
Customers like and want to get involved with the SEED FUN but sometimes lack the resources or platforms
to do so. How about rewarding consumers that support crowdfunding projects?
SPREAD THE WORD
Promote African startups on your platforms, products or services.
CONNECT THE DOTS
Think about how you can help startups in disparate regions connect. Add value, and you’ll also be able to
tap new ideas, energy, and talent.
Offer platforms on which African consumers can aggregate what they know and bring online communities
together offline to solve communal problems.
ROOT FOR THE UNDERDOG
The African startup community is still young and fragmented compared to its global counterparts, so the
next Ashish Thakkar or Jason Njoku may be trickier to find than you anticipate. Cast your net wider by
sponsoring entrepreneurial initiatives and competitions.
FOSTER AND GROW
“Up to 84% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa are either un-served or underserved.”
- International Finance Corporation, April 2013
Of course all startups are seeking investment, funding, mentorship and consultative support. Why not take a
If that’s too demanding, then experiment with an informal hackathon or workshop.
LEVERAGE AND COLLABORATE
Think joint ventures in which your industry expertise and economies of scale can leverage an entrepreneur’s
brilliant innovation. This is bound to be mutually beneficial, especially for foreign brands where the right
partnership could even help localize your offering.
WHY INDULGE IN SEED FUN?
Do not ignore this trend! Your next competitor could be an African startup who has
succeeded, grown, and expanded to your doorstep! You only need to look at the plethora
of SEED FUN success stories already sweeping across the continent.
To apply this trend, start by unpacking it using our Consumer Trend Canvas tool:
1 . ANAL YZE
2. A P PL Y
Drivers of Change
Which deep consumer needs & desires does this trend address?
Why is this trend emerging now? What’s changing?
Shifts: Long-term, widespread macro changes
How and where could you apply this trend to your business?
Triggers: Recent, short-term changes or technologies
What new consumer needs, wants and expectations are created by the changes identiﬁed above?
Where and how does this trend satisfy them?
How are other businesses applying this trend?
Which (new) customer groups could you
apply this trend to? What would you have
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