A Creative Mind:Transcending Transport and Building Connections

Where the regular mind sees problems, the creative one sees an opportunity, and takes on the challenge. From the concept to the final product/service, questions will be asked.

How can we make this better? How can we implement our customer’s feedback? What’s next?

Cellular Transport
Years after the advent of mobile phones, we were still standing by the side of the road to flag down taxis. All that changed on a snowy Paris evening in 2008, when Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, had problems hailing a cab. They came up with a simple idea—tap a button, get a ride. With a billion connections and counting, the Uber app has continued to create possibilities for drivers, riders and cities. In Africa, the presence of Uber since 2013 in several cities across the continent including Accra, Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg has resulted in the creation of jobs and revenue for the company.

As Uber creates convenience in the area of transportation, Kenyan startup Ma3route has democratised it. In Kenya, unlike Paris, the problem of transportation is not only in the availability of cabs but in the constraints of poor city planning and shabby road networks. Ma3route is an SMS/Mobile/Web based app that hopes to bring sanity to roads in emerging economies through the provision of transport data and trend analysis. Users regularly update the information on the app by providing traffic stats and scenarios that help others plan their commute.


A Creative Mind: Disrupting Stews and Birthing Nollywood

A great product or service very often starts with a question.

Why can’t we do this? Is there a better way of doing this? What if we did this?

Questions like these run through the human mind every day begging for answers. For some, they remain just that – questions in the mind while for others, the questions develop into an idea that doesn’t leave until it finds expression. Close your eyes and think for a second about how we live our lives today; from transportation to how we cook to entertainment, there is a lot of creativity at play. So much has changed and will keep changing because many questions were asked and some, thankfully got answers.

A Convenient Stew

In 2015, SLA (She Leads Africa) entrepreneur showcase winner, Kasope Ladipo-Ajai’s OmoAlata Food Services disrupted’ the approach to cooking the traditional tomato stew popular in Nigeria [and a base for many West African dishes, like the mighty Jollof]. Its flagship product, OmoAlata pepper mix is purely organic and is free of food coloring or artificial preservatives. In an interview, Kasope described the process of creating the pepper mix that begins from sourcing the highest quality organic produce. The product helps busy professionals cook healthy food in less than half of the time usually required. On top of all that, it’s eye catching and resealable packaging has helped in its market penetration.

Sir Kenneth of Nollywood

The story of how Nollywood, the second largest film industry in the world came to be is another tale of serendipity and creative thinking. Rather than let hundreds of empty video cassettes go to waste, an enterprising and smart Kenneth Nnebue decided to put them to use. He conceived an idea to create fresh content that he believed would resonate with the Nigerian audience. This resulted in the straight-to-video release of Living in Bondage, the film’s commercial success heralded the beginning of a new era in Nigeria’s motion picture industry, now popularly dubbed Nollywood. In his article, How Nollywood became the second largest film industry, Charles Igwe argues that, “The first operators in Nollywood created stories and scripts that fitted into what was being produced at the time, while supporting a business model that guaranteed profit. In the early days, movies like Living in Bondage, Rattlesnake, Violated, Glamour Girls, and Nneka the Pretty Serpent were financially very successful.”


Pocket Doctor- Healthcare Done by Startups

On the flip side of undevelopment is opportunity: there is ample room for innovation (and even appropriation of established methods) to solve the myriad of health care problems in Africa. And startups are doing just that! According to McKinsey, the African healthcare space is a multi-billion dollar industry that is rapidly growing.

Access to health is typically abysmal in low-income countries. But, as the world becomes more connected, various businesses have sprung up to link patients to the appropriate health personnel, literally putting a doctor in your mobile phone. Paramount to the issue of access, however, is cost, and in areas where doctors are available, people are often priced out. That’s where startups like Mobisure come in.


The Business of Doing Good Things

Africa's unique problems are increasingly being tackled by talented young social entrepreneurs whose businesses put community before profit. As the continent is swept along an admittedly low tide of the tech revolution, these entrepreneurs are nevertheless riding this wave to success. At the continental and global level, there are a partnerships and conferences geared towards ensuring that African entrepreneurs are empowered to achieve their goals which boosts this burgeoning business model.

Social entrepreneurship provides solutions to problems where governments are often too distracted by non-pertinent struggles leaving a gap which Africa’s social entrepreneurs fill by creating jobs for themselves while aiding development.


You Shall Not Walk Alone

The saying goes, two heads are better than one, and in business, two pockets go much further than one. Going solo has its benefits but what happens on those days when nothing seems to work? When it feels like you have reached your limit and you have nothing more to give? What happens when you’ve put your last dime into the business and you have nothing to show for it? You may be able to find someone to talk to and share your problems with, but, how deeply will they understand your pain and your challenges? Since it is ‘he who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches’ your partner very often has their foot in the same pair of shoes, and thus feels the same hurt. It is often better, in business, not to walk alone.


Data Blind- Growing Businesses where Data Does Not Exist

In the world of data mining and endless research, the risk involved in starting or growing your business has been reduced considerably. With market research data giving businesses a better idea of the preferences of their target market, companies are making more comfortable choices successfully. A silicon valley firm, for instance, increased its revenues by 24% in the last quarter of 2016 as a result of their data driven strategy. Now, there are downsides to every new strategy, but the business world generally views research data as a blessing.
The question most African entrepreneurs will however ask is with the lack of data in the developing world, these stories might as well be fairytales, right?


The Customer and the Startup- Making Startup Dreams Come True

So you finally started that business. Congratulations! You have breached a major hurdle, many never even get started. And now with a heart brimming with hope and a very firm idea of how the next 20 odd years will be, you are looking forward to some success, soon-ish.
Much like a Disney movie, at the beginning of a new venture, the theme song just won’t quit. Euphoria makes you say, ‘let the challenges come!’ But the problem with stories like Cinderella is they never tell you what happens afterwards. What if Prince Charming was a snorer and Cinderella had little interest in being a princess (transitioning from a chambermaid to the castle could not have been a breeze).