Turn your business into a technology company (Part 5)

Turn your business into a technology company (Part 5)

__Use mobile phones and the Internet to change your business.

Most of the fastest growing businesses in the world are businesses that have “re-imagined” well established business areas by introducing innovations based on the Internet and mobile phone technologies. You don’t have to change the business you’re in to make it a “technology company.” You just have to “re-imagine” it using the Internet and the mobile phone.

Let’s look at some examples:

# From ‘flea markets’ to eCommerce: Africa is full of what we commonly call “flea markets” (informal markets). These are small little businesses selling almost anything that we find in every African city. Some are huge — Mbare Market in Harare, Ikeja Market in Lagos, Kibera in Kenya, to name some of the best known. There you can buy almost anything!

In China some smart young entrepreneurs looked at these informal markets, and re-imagined them on the Internet.

__Out of this came some of the most valuable businesses in the world today… companies like Alibaba and Tencent!

# We all know about companies like Uber and Lyft, and their Chinese counterparts. All these guys did was use mobile technology, and the emergence of smartphones, to bring efficiency to something as old as cars — hailing down a taxi!

# A young entrepreneur in America, who loved reading books, wanted to find a way to get a book. Instead of spending his time going to bookshops and libraries, he thought: “Why not sell books using the Internet?” The company he created is one of the most formidable businesses in the world today. It’s called Amazon.

# A group of entrepreneurs used to sell videos, something we see on the streets of Africa every day. These guys thought to themselves: “Why can’t we do this Online?” First, they started selling on a website, then they thought why sell videos? We can just stream the videos direct! That is Netflix, folks!

# Years ago if you wanted to sell something like your car, you went to the newspaper and bought a column in a “classifieds” column. It was time-consuming and costly. Today there are thousands of businesses that do this Online.

Some of the greatest opportunities today lie in simply taking things we have always done, and applying innovations based on the Internet and mobile phones.

Today I want you to think about the business you’re in, or work for, and ask yourself:

__What have we done to make this a technology business? How much of our income comes from our use of the Internet and mobile phones?

If it’s less than 25%, you’re headed for extinction… and you probably deserve it! If you don’t get your business Online and using mobile technology, someone will “re-imagine” what you do, and take it away from you.

# You have to drive your business through the Internet and Mobile phone technology. There’s no business which is exempt. You saw the article I published recently called “Digital Farmer.” Yes, even smallholder farmers in villages must use mobile phones and the Internet to grow their businesses.

Here’s an interesting prediction: within 10 years there should be no markets found anywhere in Africa, like Siyo So, Mbare, Ikeja, and Kibera. You shouldn’t find anywhere in Africa someone selling wares at a street corner, even vegetables. It will all have gone Online, and ordered using a mobile phone. Now let’s get to work!

To be continued. . .


Author:Strive Masiyiwa

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.

10 Replies to “Turn your business into a technology company (Part 5)”

  1. Afterthought 1.
    The other day one of the followers of this platform showed me a service he had developed to replace the “Office Messenger” (still very common in Africa—basically an errand guy who takes mail and messages from one company to another). The App he had developed which I will feature one day, works just like Uber or similar service: if you want an office messenger, you just use your Smartphone, and a guy pitches up in minutes, and can take a message wherever you want.
    So the “Office Messenger” is obsolete but in his place is a young contractor with a bicycle. Self employed just like an Uber driver.

  2. Afterthought 2.
    There are millions of Africans who work as migrants in neighbouring countries. For instance Zimbabweans, Malawians, Zambians and Mozambicans work as migrants in South Africa. Many of these people are low income workers, and they leave their families back home. This means at the end of every month they have to send money home. The way it had been done for over 100 years is to give the money to someone crossing the borders, snd hope they don’t cheat you!
    More than 4 years ago I put a team to study how this works, and develop an “App” so they can use their phones for cross border transactions. The technology part was quite easy, the difficulty was getting the regulatory approvals from Central banks (particularly in South Africa). It was not easy, but after some three years they finally gave us approval late last year. It now takes just a few minutes to move the money from one country to another.
    Out of a desire to solve this “human need”, we have created one of our fastest growing businesses!

  3. Zimbabwe recorded the worst inflation rate in life. There came a time one would buy only three eggs with fifteen trillion Zimbabwean Dollars. Even those in Telecommunications industry faced challenges. Now the country is using American money. I suggested it myself.
    I do pray that God will let the light shine in my life because I can’t let the world see the light as I continue to dwell in darkness…:-):-D;-):-P;-(

  4. Hi Mr Strive, I must confess that you’ve been a great source of inspiration to me and millions of young Africans out there. I’ve been reading some of your articles of recent, and I couldn’t but quickly respond to this mind blowing one.
    I’ve come across so many highly skilled men and women providing high quality goods and services in their different fields but limited only to their present locality. And this keeps wondering if they knew the fortune that they can make from that same business if and only if someone in the next street, town, city or country knew about their quality product. Hence I came up with an idea of a business oriented social media network (website/app) which will enable anybody even in the remotest village to market his/her product/services globally starting from their locality. But my greatest challenge now is, besides not being a programmer or website designer, how do I start – who do I talk to about this idea that will not steal the idea and run with it. Sir, your advice will be of great value to me and I hope to hear from you soon.
    Thanks a lot for sharing with us from your wealth of experience and training. I’m extremely obliged to you sir.

  5. Hi,Strive,
    Having followed most of your beautiful and spirit enlightening lectures on face book, and towing your leads way, i am compelled to share with you a new brilliant business idea I have got.
    This new brilliant business idea has an enormous far reaching empowerment potential to transform Africa and Africans and the world at large.
    1)>It will work in partnership with a telecommunications industry
    2)>It will have a good data base for our interested loyal customers..
    3)>It will create jobs ,reduce crimes etc.
    4)>It has the potential to expand your beautiful business empire,etc
    I tried reaching you in a private mail,but couldn’t,that’s why am here . Now I will wait,praying that you reach me soon,for further chat on my new business idea.
    Okafor Victor

  6. Canda Multimedia writes,
    Our printing firm; C & A Computer Services is located in Benin City, Nigeria but we have succeeded in offering quality printing services to clients in far away places like Portharcourt, Lagos, Calabar, Abuja etc. This is simple! They send us their information, we do the design and send to them using the social media platform. Once they give us the go ahead and transfer the fund, the printing proper is done and within hours DHL or FedEx personnel are at your doorstep to deliver your printed work at your doorstep. Before, we use to think of opening branches across Nigeria but now we are thinking of occupying more space on the geography of the internet. One day, we shall be in Benin City and still be printing for clients in Europe. Technology has made it possible!

    My reply:
    You will be global one day, very soon. Remember to offer me shares at the time of your IPO!
    If you want to know what will create the jobs in Nigeria (and other African countries), as well as the next generation economy, it is guys like this. I truly salute you.

  7. Prince writes:

    Sir you have taught me so much since i officially made you my mentor for years now, i have passed through your entreprenurship school and now am teaching others and also learning more from you. Two years ago on the month of November when you first shared the uber knowledge with us, i caught a whole lot from it. Today i want to announce to you that we are about coming out with a system in the world that will promote Africa. Ofcourse it will be technologically advanced. Watch out for more Sir and i know soonest the world leaders will promote Africa and our new technological paradigm which you contributed immensely to this development. Like David said, ‘he has exalted the horn of his anointed above his fellows’ This Africa will experience. Thank you lord, DR strive you are a great African leader with great heart. Long live Africa

    My reply:
    I loved this very much!

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