A collaborative continent

Reshaping the African dialogue with collaborative technology and innovation

By Chris Ogden

One of the biggest trends predicted for 2019 is the move towards collaboration and collaborative platforms to drive business success. This is, in part, powered by the disruptive revolution where technology has walked into markets, stirred the sediment, and left muddied waters behind. It is also, particularly in the African context, driven by the need to leverage off accessible and relevant platforms in order to further specific business objectives. Large organisations are increasingly looking to energetic startups as the solution to their expansion or legacy challenges. These agile and nimble young companies are already embedded into specific markets and, by dint of location and specialisation, bypassed many of the complexities that organisations face when they shift their attention to the African continent.

In the PwC 2017 Global Fintech Report, the company found that around 82% of organisations concerned with new fintech disruptors emerging into the market were now taking steps to collaborate with these emergent companies. The goal was to be a part of the disruption rather than a victim of it. While not exactly in the spirit of ubuntu, these concerns are relevant across market and industry and very likely herald a trend in terms of collaborative engagements globally, but in Africa there are other factors influencing this movement.

The first of these is, of course, access. Access to funds, markets and infrastructure. These challenges can be more easily overcome through collaborative efforts designed to mitigate risk and reward investment. Collaborative financing platforms have started to flex their African muscles more confidently. Uprise.Africa, M-funding, and Drofund are African-built crowdfunding platforms dedicated specifically to businesses, entrepreneurship and digital funding. Drofund grants users access to business opportunities through the use of Bitcoin in Kenya, M-funding is focused on social impact startups in Nigeria, and Uprise.Africa has already gained significant traction as a startup funding platform in South Africa. Already, the latter has seen more than 159 applications for around R1 billion in funding and has launched one successful startup – Drifter Beer.

Crowdsourcing for capital far outstrips the complexities inherent in raising capital through traditional methods and it bypasses geographical boundaries with ease. Organisations across Africa can launch their ideas and have a real chance at making them into a successful reality. Some platforms, such as Uprise.Africa are selective in who they allow on board which offers reassurance to investor and entrepreneur alike.

This level of collaboration is inherent in the African DNA. The shared economies concept that sees organisations and individuals work together to achieve more within a complex environment. It not only presents an opportunity for the enterprise to find and invest into high-growth startup potential, but it allows for deeper innovation that’s relevant and potentially has global legs. Whether the support is financial, infrastructural or providing mentorship, technology is allowing for organisations of all shapes and sizes to connect the dots and claim new markets. This is how Africa gets to stand on the global stage, by harnessing collaborative opportunity through technology and leveraging this to drive growth.

Like Collaborative Africa – a piece that examines how technology has transformed the collaborative capabilities of African business. The piece would examine the rising trends and potential of crowdsourced data, crowdsourced financing and collective efforts to address opportunity and risk.