Many recognise the role of tech both in our personal lives and in the world of work. And what we are seeing is that tech is shaping not just the way we work, but also how we earn a living. If there are such tangible benefits of technology in solving unemployment and helping drive emerging economies forward – the question we must ask then is how do we scale it on mass to accelerate the benefits?
It starts with inclusive growth. And horizontal networking.
A shift of thinking is required. The traditional business environment is built on large companies and acquisitive silo-type behaviour. It is this corporatized vertical thinking that runs in stark contrast to the startup way of horizontal networking. Vertical networking is about protecting your turf. And its short sighted – it suggests there isn’t enough. There isn’t enough capital, or skills, or good ideas going around so you best hold tight. Horizontal networking however is all about inclusive collaboration across companies; it’s what drives the shared economy. It celebrates the wins across startups, knowing that when one wins we all benefit. We all benefit from uprounds, from exits and from the transfer of skills. It is this thinking that drives more sophisticated markets and what keeps their startup ecosystem turning.
Scaling the startup ecosystem doesn’t start with capital. It starts with entrepreneurs. It starts with entrepreneurs solving problems to today’s challenges. It is entrepreneurs that see opportunities when others don’t. And it’s the grit and determination of entrepreneurs that find creative ways to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. And it’s why we are investing in South Africa.
South Africa has the highest income inequality in the world and one the highest unemployment rates across emerging economies. But what it also has is 4 of the top 5 universities in Africa. We have one of the most liquid of emerging markets with the largest exchange in Africa, and one of the top 20 exchanges globally. We have a skill set that when paired with the right investment mind set has the potential to solve the most pressing challenges. Our opportunities are globally scalable. And if we widen our networks and shift our thinking we can scale this ecosystem in a much bigger way.