• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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The winning formula for African businesses

The winning formula for African businesses

African businesses are forging powerful partnerships to tackle social issues and create a win-win situation for everyone. Businesses are moving beyond solely chasing profits, seeking a deeper connection to the communities they serve. This pursuit of purpose, however, presents unique challenges and opportunities for African companies. Let’s take a look at this changing situation and see how strategic partnerships can create a future where social impact and commercial success go hand in hand.

 “Governments, on the other hand, can provide the rules and regulations businesses need to operate smoothly, along with support for things like building roads and power lines in remote areas.”

Defining purpose in a complex context

For African businesses, defining purpose is not a simple exercise. The continent grapples with a unique set of circumstances, such as widespread poverty, limited infrastructure, and diverse social needs. Traditional Western models of corporate social responsibility, often focused on philanthropy, may not translate seamlessly in this context.

In Africa, a company’s purpose should be closely connected to the real issues people struggle with. Consider healthcare, a major concern across the continent. This partnership has brought affordable health insurance to millions of Kenyans who previously lacked access.

Then there’s also a gap between the skills people have and the jobs available. eHealth Africa recognised this challenge and decided to leverage the eHA Academy to bridge that gap. The Academy directly addresses this disconnect and prepares graduates for success in the growing tech sector by equipping these young people with in-demand tech skills like web development.

These are just a few examples, and the possibilities are endless. The key is for African businesses to identify the social issues that resonate most with their core values and operational strengths.

Embracing the power of partnerships

The good news? African businesses don’t need to go it alone. Companies can amplify their social impact while strengthening their own commercial success by forging effective partnerships with NGOs and governments.

In these partnerships, each player brings something special. NGOs are the experts when it comes to working with communities, designing social programmes that work, and understanding the unique cultural aspects of different areas. Governments, on the other hand, can provide the rules and regulations businesses need to operate smoothly, along with support for things like building roads and power lines in remote areas. This kind of teamwork makes projects much stronger.

Just imagine a mobile phone company partnering with an NGO and the government to launch a financial inclusion initiative. The company provides the technology platform for mobile money transfers, the NGO educates communities about financial literacy, and the government grants regulatory approvals and facilitates access to rural areas. This not only empowers communities but also creates a vast new market for the mobile phone company’s services.

Leadership and strategic vision in action

The success of these partnerships hinges on strong leadership with a clear strategic vision. Leading companies will be those with CEOs and boards that understand the power of purpose and possess the ability to translate it into actionable strategies. These leaders will excel at communication, not only internally but also externally, fostering trust and collaboration with potential partners.

Unlocking the potential

Effective partnerships unlock a multitude of benefits. They allow companies to access new markets, often at the base of the pyramid, where traditional marketing channels might not reach them. They enhance a company’s reputation as a responsible corporate citizen, attracting and retaining top talent who are increasingly purpose-driven. Additionally, these partnerships can lead to innovation, co-creating solutions that address both social needs and the company’s commercial goals.

When partnerships work well, everyone wins. These collaborations can deliver a whole range of positive results. On the social impact side, they can lead to more people getting the healthcare they need, a rise in the number of people who understand how to manage their money wisely, and even a bigger pool of skilled workers available for jobs. For businesses, these partnerships can open doors to entirely new markets, make it easier to attract and keep the best employees, and boost their reputation as a company that cares about the community. There’s even a chance to save money by sharing resources with partners. Companies can see exactly how well these partnerships are doing by tracking these different areas of success.

The call to action

The time to embrace purpose is now. African businesses can unlock a future where they are not simply profitable but also play a transformative role in building a more prosperous and equitable continent. If African businesses focus on making a positive difference (having a purpose) and partnering with others, they can change what success means. This way, they’ll not only do well themselves but also help build a better future for the people they serve.

Ota Akhigbe is the Director, Partnerships and Programs at eHealth Africa. She is a results-oriented leader with over 15 years of experience driving impactful change in healthcare access, infrastructure development, and financial inclusion.