By Miishe Addy, co-Founder and CEO of Jetstream Africa, an e-logistics startup building digital infrastructure for African supply chains.
Growing up, I thought that the women in my family were remarkable. They had strong entrepreneurial instincts, and built businesses from scratch using only their intellect and the resources around them. My eldest aunt founded a thriving restaurant, spun off a catering business, and turned her car into a taxi service while she was at work. Her younger sister founded a crèche and scaled it up to a 200-student primary and secondary school. My great-grandmother, born in the late 1800s, was a self-made businesswoman in Accra and the breadwinner for her family.
Over the last decade, Africa has witnessed the emergence of a dynamic start-up scene in some of its countries. The district of Yaba, in Lagos, Nigeria is one example. In Yaba, young educated people are supported by a network of incubators, accelerators and other support facilities. This entrepreneurship cluster has taken advantage of the nearby presence of many Nigerian higher education institutions, such as the Yaba College of Technology, the University of Lagos, or the Federal Science and Technical College for students and facilities.
Another well-known case is the so-called Silicon Savannah in Kenya, a highly entrepreneurial eco-system that has given birth to innovative tech companies like M-Pesa, the worldwide money transfer and financing service operating via mobile phones, and Ushahidi, the well-known crowdsourcing platform. As in Nigeria, some of the universities based in Nairobi, notably the University of Nairobi and Strathmore University, are important actors in this eco-system. Continue reading “Building Africa’s entrepreneurial culture”
The manufacturing sector has traditionally been seen as an engine for development due to its high propensity for productivity gains. Worryingly, recent evidence suggests that this has not been the case in Africa.1 One important determinant of firm productivity is the quality of management practices, and new data sheds light on the state of management in some African countries.
Management around the world
For over 12 years, the World Management Survey (WMS) has been collecting data on management practices using an interview-based methodology. It defines 18 key management practices and scores them from worst practice (1) to best practice (5). The focus is on such practices as monitoring, target-setting and incentives/people management. Research using this data suggests a strong correlation between management and a series of productivity measures – such as firm size, profitability, sales growth, market value and survival. Experimental evidence further confirms a positive correlation.2Continue reading “Management and industrialisation in Africa”
ByWim Naudé, Professor in Business and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets, Maastricht University, Dean of the Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands, and Research Fellow at the IZA Institute for Labor Economics, Bonn, Germany
Africa has failed to industrialise. At the same time, millions of young people are seeking jobs. Put one-and-one together and the answer seems to be that if these labour market entrants become entrepreneurs in industry then they can in one stroke create jobs and help Africa industrialise. Yet, optimising the nexus between entrepreneurship and industrialisation requires overcoming some vexing policy biases. These can be categorised as biases of over-estimation and biases of under-estimation.
First, industrialisation’s job-creation potential is often over-estimated. The world is in a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) driven by technologies such as the Internet of Things, automation, additive manufacturing and big data analytics (see Naudé, 2017). These technologies are causing the loss of low-skilled routine jobs, of which Africa has a disproportionate share. It’s estimated that up to 66% of all jobs in developing countries are at risk. Relatively poor African countries such as Ethiopia are at a particular risk of having around 44% of current jobs susceptible to automation. The 4IR is furthermore leading to a ‘re-shoring’ of manufacturing back to advanced economies. This is to the detriment of low-wage labor in African and other developing countries. As Culey (2012) points out: How important is low-cost labor when you don’t actually need labor? Continue reading “Biases in entrepreneurship and industrial policy in Africa”
L’Afrique n’est pas différente des autres continents : le dynamisme économique africain repose comme ailleurs en très grande partie sur les PME. La nouvelle classe d’entrepreneurs africains ayant émergé depuis dix à vingt ans apporte avec audace et innovation des réponses durables aux besoins d’un continent dont les économies sont encore fragiles.
Parallèlement, la situation démographique de l’Afrique s’annonce comme un défi. 133 millions il y a dix ans, les 15-24 ans sont aujourd’hui 172 millions et seront 246 millions en 2020. Alors que 74 millions d’emplois devront être créés d’ici là afin que le taux de chômage des jeunes évite simplement d’augmenter, 72% des jeunes Africains se disent attirés par l’entrepreneuriat.
A little more than 12 years ago I read an article about 981 “entrepreneurs” who had been through a brief new venture creation programme. According to the journalist’s investigation, not one of these would-be entrepreneurs who had been in that programme was in existence a year later. The journalist lamented that despite the obvious evidence that these high volume, low quality programmes were ineffectual, they were nevertheless prolific, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
A universal definition of small – and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) does not exist. What is generally undisputed, however, is the fact that the overwhelming majority of private-sector businesses in the world are SMEs and that SMEs account for a very large share of world economic activity in both developed and developing countries.
Look at the data. In the OECD countries where SME definitions are comparable, the contribution of SMEs to national employment ranges between 53% in the United Kingdom to 86% in Greece. The contribution of SMEs to national value-added 1 is between 38% in Mexico and 75% in Estonia. The SME share of economic activity is typically larger in OECD economies than in emerging-market economies, reflecting a mix of stronger SME productivity levels in the former and higher rates of economic informality in the latter. In emerging-market economies, SMEs are responsible for up to 45% of jobs and up to 33% of national GDP. These numbers are significantly higher when informal businesses, which are often more than half of the total enterprise population, are included in the count. Some estimates suggest that when the informal sector is included, SMEs in emerging-market economies account for 90% of total employment. Continue reading “Unlocking the potential of SMEs for the SDGs”
Next week, the OECD Global Forum on Development will convene in Paris to discuss the critical role the private sector must play in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or Global Goals). Private sector funding, innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable business models can rapidly reorient the global economy towards achieving prosperity through business models that align with the goals.
Here’s what we know: At least USD 12 trillion could be added to the global economy by 2030 if the private sector embraces sustainable business models in the1 four key development areas of energy and materials, health and well-being, food and agriculture, and cities. Embracing sustainable business models in other sectors will push this figure even higher. This level of private sector engagement could create 380 million new jobs, primarily in low income, high growth countries. Continue reading “Encouraging entrepreneurship in Africa is vital to achieving the Global Goals”