One of the most important things you need to get out of your mind is this notion that there are some businesses, such as tech and telecoms companies, that are digital, whilst everything else is not. Not anymore! Everyone has to #Pivot to Digital, until everything about their business is Digital!
Let me tell you, this is not going to be easy.
During 2019, I tried to share with you examples of #Pivoting to Digital, as I did myself, as a way of showing you how it is done:
# Do you remember @Clean City
We developed an App to help schedule collection of waste from homes and businesses. It was probably a first in Africa, and certainly one of the first in the world. Today, Clean City has settled down into business that collects waste, and also delivers water to its customers, using a Digital App.
# Do you remember @Vaya Tractor?
We created a digital platform for “on-demand tractors”. Today thousands of hectares of land are being ploughed. Smallholder farmers no longer need to own a tractor.
# Do you remember @Sasai App?
What did we digitize with Sasai App? Well, we digitized so many things all at once including your local radio stations, so they can be heard from anywhere in the world. A friend of mine from Zambia told me that he watched a local football game on Zambian TV, from Canada, using Sasai Explore. I just listened to a Kenyan radio station from London!
Now it’s your turn:
I want you to discuss how you are going to #Pivot your business to Digital in 2020, which reminds me: Did you see this exchange I had with one of you, to show you what I mean that you can digitize anything?
“Good morning Mr Strive Masiyiwa, thank you for taking time to educate us with your post regularly… I run a poultry farm, where I mainly sell eggs, it’s a modest farm for now, but with time I’m planning to expand it into selling different kinds of poultry birds in addition with the egg production.
When I see you talk about marketing, advertising, pivoting, going digital… I feel sort of out of place, cause I don’t know how to apply these things to my growing farm… If you can please help me with some pointers on how to apply these things to my farm, I’ll be most grateful. Thanks sir”.
To me, the best response to him, came from another member of the platform:
__“Hi Brume. My friend and I are actually building an online marketplace that will allow guys like you to sell your farm produce to people around you and in markets you can’t easily reach. We’re based in Johannesburg, South Africa and are starting a pilot in end of January, 2020. Where are you based? Can we do something together and start selling your eggs online? Thank you”.
This was beautiful!
In case you missed it, remember what I wrote last week about the Chinese example (edited):
“In 2006 China had 34m eCommerce shoppers. By 2018 (12 years) they had reached 600m! That is just insane. But as with everything they do, it was strategic once they understood how economic development is happening. Without it, no 4IR, and no AI!
In China, almost everything you can think of now is bought and sold Online. The effect has changed the face of China including rural areas. It has driven economic growth and created tens of millions of jobs. It has also created some of the biggest companies on the planet.
By contrast, Africa still has only 22m Online shoppers today. In the next 10 years it should easily reach 500m. It is inevitable at some point.
__Our entrepreneurs — like you — have to tackle the numerous challenges that are currently making eCommerce difficult and even unviable. In doing so, many will emerge as our eCommerce champions!
It might take 10 years or it might take 25 years, but one day African commerce will go Online as it has in America (70%), and China (now 47%). Today it is less than 2% of the population on the continent have had the experience of buying something Online.
But it will happen!
The real questions are these:
# Will this dramatic transformation be driven by African entrepreneurs, or by American, Chinese, or possibly European entrepreneurs?
# Will we see the emergence of African equivalents of Alibaba, Amazon, and even Twitter?
This conversation that we have been having over the last few months will decide that!
As we close out the year, I want you to have deep reflections:
__How are you going to #Pivot what you do, even if it is not-for-profit, to #Digital?
When 2020 ends you must have a website, and an App for your business. You must be able to #Market your business using platforms and tools provided by Google and Facebook (at a minimum).
“Knowing is not enough. You must take action”…
To be continued. . .
Image credit: Ubuntu Hope. Melinda Gates and I co-chaired the final meeting of the Pathways for Prosperity Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development, held on 13 November in Nairobi, Kenya. Here we launched the Commission’s “Digital Roadmap” and “Digital Manifesto” which are a must-read. To download copies, please go to: https://pathwayscommission.bsg.ox.ac.uk/
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa