Fuelling Africa’s Entrepreneurial Shift
Young African entrepreneurs are redefining the economic landscape by tackling social and environmental challenges while fuelling economic growth. Leveraging first-hand community experiences, they offer novel solutions to educational, healthcare, infrastructure, and climate crises. The Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) bolsters this shift, providing necessary support and training to future business leaders, shaping a sustainable, prosperous future for Africa.
As part of the youngest continent, African entrepreneurs are making contributions to the economy, while also championing social and environmental sustainability. These visionary individuals are driving innovation, creating job opportunities, and fostering economic growth across the continent. With the right support, their contribution could be that much more significant.
Due to first-hand experience in their communities, they recognise the importance of addressing societal challenges, such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Through their enterprises, they develop solutions that improve access to quality services, education, affordable healthcare services, and sustainable infrastructure development, and so forth.
In terms of environmental sustainability, this collective of SMEs is also addressing climate change, resource management, and renewable energy. Additionally, they promote sustainable agricultural practices and conservation efforts, protecting natural resources and biodiversity.
The shared value business management concept demonstrates how business can strategically address challenges faced by society and the environment. A key part of the advocacy imperative of the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) is by influencing and lobbying for business across Africa to implement the profit with purpose approach to business, is ensuring that SMMEs are part of this discourse by ensuring that they too are supported in this journey.
As a leader, what was the main take-away for you from participating in the training and being part of SVAI and the training cohort?
Lungiswa Mzimba (Founder, Border Frontier): The training was beneficial to me in so many ways. It came at an important juncture for me when I was looking to course correct. It’s given me an incredible network of solutionists from across the continent, not to mention an invaluable backstage pass to the 2022 Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit in Rwanda. It was the tipping point that led me to refocus, repurpose, and remodel Border Frontier into something that can be bigger than myself, into something that can connect people on a shared ideal.
Dr. MH Edmund Amu & Dr. MH Enoch Keitu (Co-CEOs, KENOCH HG HERBAL CLINIC Ltd): The training has facilitated a discerning approach in our staff selection process. Prioritising individuals who align with our purpose and vision has been instrumental in cultivating an exceedingly positive work environment. Moreover, it has served as a constant reminder and source of motivation for us to operate as a purpose-driven business.
Have you always been clear of your purpose – as an entrepreneur – or did the training help you clarify this? Or was it all new to you?
Lungiswa: Purpose was not a new thing to me. But clarity of purpose takes time. The training helped me commit to the journey of getting to a clear and simple “WHY”. I still continuously lean into the training because it is a process of distilling the approach and iterating the core concepts taught to make it easy for more people to embrace “WHAT” I do.
Edmund & Enoch: We have always possessed a general sense of purpose for our business; however, we firmly believe that SVAI and the training have been instrumental in redefining our purpose and infusing it with greater depth and significance. As leaders, we regard all our stakeholders as an extended family, acknowledging that familial support fosters enduring relationships. Therefore, embracing the purpose of “promoting good health” encapsulates all our core values and intentions as an enterprise.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs wanting to create shared value (no matter the industry)?
Lungiswa: Stay teachable. Stay humble. Stay open. Stay the course. Change isn’t always perfect, so start before you are ready. And don’t underestimate the value of being part of a community or cohort. Look for collaborations and partnerships across the board, in different disciplines. You don’t create shared value on your own.
Edmund & Enoch: Our counsel to fellow entrepreneurs would be to persevere in upholding their values. Establishing a company that withstands the trials of time is a protracted journey. We maintain that every business ought to have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate, rather than solely pursuing exorbitant profits. The stronger the belief in your goals by your clients, customers, employees, and community, the greater the likelihood of achieving financial breakthroughs and attaining success as a business.
Since 2021, through the Shared Value Africa Academy, we have delivered the Purpose Playbook Training (the “how” of creating shared value), through cohorts of SMMEs and young leaders working across various sectors – developing future business leaders on the continent.
Over the years, we have taught 5 cohorts, made up of 75 trainees from across the continent. We caught up with a couple of those who have gone through this training, these cohort members to address how the training has helped support them in their respective entrepreneurship journey, employees, and community, the greater the likelihood of achieving financial breakthroughs and attaining success as a business.
What’s next for your business?
Lungiswa: Following the Shared Value Purpose Playbook training, Border Frontier is on a path to repurpose and remodel. A strategic shift has meant that key activities over the past few months have been directed towards the climate change narrative, particularly as it pertains to the African context. With this in mind, we are developing a brand prototype for a Climate Literacy and Climate Mobility platform as part of a training with Brand The Change. We now have membership representation in the global Creatives for Climate movement, and want to be part of their worldwide 20 City Leads pilot.
Edmund & Enoch: As a company, we aspire to break barriers, one of which entails accessing the African market. Our aim is to elevate herbal medicine to prominence throughout the entire African continent and even beyond. We consistently forge networks to assist us in realising this aspiration. SVAI has played a pivotal role in supporting the realisation of this dream, and we express profound gratitude for their assistance. Personally, my dream is to make healthcare accessible to all, regardless of social status, wealth, or power.