Despite poverty, I’m continuously amazed by how much opportunity Africa presents. It seems like every day I meet someone who is pursing another idea I’ve never heard of. I’ve met people starting businesses in fields from internet marketing to agriculture to African artifacts and finding a lot of success. In a place where responsible business is relatively new, there is little competition and tons of opportunity for those who are willing to put in the extra work.
With all the infrastructure development happening and the implementation of a new constitution that is supposed to reduce corruption and provide greater accountability, I really think this place is one the verge of something huge. In fact, Kenya has a pretty ambitious development plan called Kenya Vision 2030. The plan is based on economic, social and political pillars of development and looks really interesting. I’ve provided a link and will let you read more if you would like. Poverty will undoubtedly remain and absolutely needs to be addressed but Kenya seems to be moving in the right direction.
And what drives innovation here? In my humble opinion it’s responsible business. I once heard someone say telephone companies across Africa have done more to help individual Africans than all NGOs combined. I couldn’t agree more. Because profitable businesses like Safaricom in Kenya provide essential services and train future leaders. These people carry their business acumen into other fields, providing jobs and adding long-term value. In addition, communication connects people to opportunities. Talent is universal, opportunity is not and providing phone accessibility connects that talent to opportunities. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: NGOs in Africa have failed to implement lasting change because they reallocate value instead of creating it. Meaning we dump money on Africa instead of helping them help themselves. Ultimately they fund cycles of dependency instead of encouraging innovation and progress, working against their own goals. It’s seems ridiculous but this mentality is ingrained in Western minds and old habits die hard.
I’m sorry to rant, I just feel like African business is going to boom very soon. We need to be educated about how to support this development and not continue to “help” Africa by donating money. Please comment if you disagree and we can have a civilized discussion 🙂