3.25.2013

Don't Just Transplant- Adapt

Who is today's African? The modern African is someone who has traveled abroad, either to visit, study or work. Whether this travel has been actual physical travel, or a virtual experience via books, the media and the internet, we are being influenced in many ways. This has affected our personal choices as well as our business ones.
Considering that the majority of African economies are still classified as either emerging or developing they have many opportunities for growth and exploration. The Western model of development is the only example available and in many aspects it is a good one. At the same time however it is important for us, even in business, to show an appreciation for the uniqueness of our culture and environment. This will enable us to develop and build our businesses in a way that adapts to and accommodates our needs.

One of the best modern examples of learning to adapt is Kenya's MPesa. This payment system makes use of cellular technology to facilitate virtual payments. It takes the concept of virtual payments in the West and adapts it to suit the needs of African markets, where access to credit cards (and other forms of payment which don't require the physical transfer of cash) are limited and cellular penetration is high. Today MPesa has revolutionized the way that Kenyan's use money by enabling them to deposit and withdraw money, transfer money, pay bills and purchase airtime using SMS technology.

What does this mean for today's African entrepreneurs? Continue to learn and gain exposure, you never know what you'll find. At the same time however, remember the context of the environment that you're in and know how to make the transition from transplanting to actually adapting.

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