'Test out crazy ideas!' Impact Africa speakers urge social entrepreneurs to take advantage of new technologies
Africa’s young entrepreneurs should experiment with new ideas to solve problems in their communities at the same time as taking advantage of the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.
This was the message from speakers at the second plenary of the Impact!Africa social entrepreneurship summit on 28 January entitled Change Agility: The New Strategic Advantage for Social Entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Nthonyana Kitsa, chair of the session and business development manager at the British Council in South Africa, said: “Africa right now is the most highly positioned continent with the most entrepreneurial groups. The African youth are innovating and problem solving.”
Botswana’s Tebogo Mogaleeming, founder of data analytics firm Spectrum Analytics, said: “If you are a social entrepreneur, look around you and identify with people’s pain. Pick a pain point in your community. It will lead to the technology. Technology is a tool for solving problems.”
The speakers emphasised that Africans could compete equally with the rest of the world. Liesbeth Bakker, a Dutch national currently based in Kenya and the founder of incubator The Entrepreneurs’ Hub, said: “The whole world is discovering these emerging technologies. In Africa we are on a par with the rest of the world.”
I have high expectations of social entrepreneurs. I expect more African social entrepreneurs to come up with Covid-19-related solutions
And Amos Mphephu, founder and director of South Africa’s change management consultancy Change Metrics, said: “I have high expectations of social entrepreneurs. I expect more African social entrepreneurs to come up with Covid-19-related solutions. We shouldn’t be waiting with our arms folded for Europeans to decide when we are going to be getting vaccines.”
Social entrepreneurs urged to keep up with the fast-moving world
The focus of the webinar was on the concept of “change agility”, and the speakers urged the continent’s social entrepreneurs to keep up with the fast-moving world around them.
“We need to challenge our thinking, because the world is moving at a faster rate than we are catching up. If we don’t become agile, we are going to be left behind,” said Mogaleeming.
“You need to start being curious,” said Mphephu “You need to learn and you need to be able to apply what you have learned.” He pointed out that organisations such as Microsoft and Google offered a lot of online opportunities to learn about the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.
Mirabelle Morah of BlankPaperz Media in Nigeria urged social entrepreneurs to take some risks. “Test out crazy ideas. You only live once,” she said.
• A recording of the webinar is available here. The Impact Africa Social Entrepreneurship Summit, organised by the British Council and Ashoka, continues as a series of online events until October 2021 with the aim of boosting social innovation across the continent. Social entrepreneurs can also enter an elevator pitch competition and connect with other people pursuing similar goals.
Header photo: Young people learn to code at a digital skills training programme hosted by Impact Hub Harare