Big Challenges and Limited Resources, a perfect storm for millennial innovators
Millennials are known for aligning their values with their career and it is not surprising they are flocking to Africa’s emerging social venture sector. Although my experience is focused on East Africa other enterprising individuals are growing startup communities throughout the continent from Lagos to Accra to Lusaka attracting international talent. Young professionals are developing their skills at in North America or Europe and bringing them to new markets to develop companies that are truly changing the world. Businesses in sanitation and solar are scaling requiring SalesForce Admins or ElectricalEngineers opening up opportunities for an increasingly global workforce.
Increasing Business Sector
During the past decade 2 major changes have opened up Africa to the world, internet access and mobile phones. As internet speeds increase it’s easier to do business and the mobile phone industry has created new sectors around communication and connected devices. With a population of almost a billion people more international companies are entering the market and exploring business opportunities.
Mission Driven Organizations
Social Entrepreneurship is one of the biggest buzz words at business schools and in the technology space. In North America the established social welfare system, infrastructure and general wealth means you are tackling sub-groups among the population whereas in Africa the vast majority of the population earns under 5 dollars a day. Producing a product that costs 25 cents a day and replaces a current inferior household demand can be a billion dollar company serving millions of people (ex. telecom industry). Furthermore many of the companies are trying to solve big problems electricity, urban sanitation, health clinics, rural internet and communication are among a few of the growing sectors.
There is a significant management gap in many businesses as international companies move into Africa. The presents an opportunity for well trained professionals to continue to advance their careers while living in a new culture. Millennials are the most educated generation in history and can utilize their skills in emerging economies. Start Ups are a new phenomenon in Africa and many Kenyans prefer longer term secure roles providing expatriates the opportunity to capitalize on new technology if willing to accept the risk of an unproven company in a new market.
As a Canadian living in Kenya there’s nothing like wearing shorts all year round, great patios and new landscapes. Walking past fruit and vegetable sellers at the side of the road and Kenyan cuisine continue to bring new experiences to my life on a daily basis. Weekend trips to new towns or countries provide adventure within reach from a home base at a fraction of a cost and the ability to develop a true understanding of a new region.
The “renting generation” cannot afford to purchase a home in their 20s in most mega cities, they have delayed kids and travel extensively. The “sharing economy” and less emphasis on personal possessions due to smaller and smaller urban apartments make it easier and easier to pack up two bags when moving cities or countries. Young people are moving cities for college, for new jobs and the next step is going global! Plane tickets are a fraction of the cost compared to when our parents and grandparents were young making the risk of trying something new much lower.
In Nairobi I pass a handful of construction sites on my 15 minute walk to work every morning. This represents the rapid growth that is bubbling up in the business community and for entrepreneurial adventurous individuals Africa presents a great place to roll up your sleeve and try something new! The difference between an economy growing 1.2% per year and 5-7% is visual and extremely exciting. So if you aren’t tied down and looking for something new try Africa!