Opportunities are enormous in Africa but there are very few pathfinders. Needless to say, Africa has the world’s most youthful and vibrant population with a predominantly suitable vegetative cover that other continents desire to increase the standard of living of its people through diverse economic activities. To state the obvious, we have failed to harness the energy, talent and creativity of our youthful population and our natural resources for sustained growth and development.
Arguably, it is incredibly amazing to know that several highlevel stakeholder dialogues on the obvious problems have contributed very little over the last four decades to change our development credentials for the better. From the experts, the gaps in our economic and social environment are widening in recent times as a result of the global pandemic. Are we truly in the eye of the storm? Of course, we are! But the good news is we are not going to remain there for long.
With this understanding, the young continent of Africa has seen the rise of leaders of great thoughts and deeds in the last two decades. These are the people we call problemsolvers, creators, social innovators or, “the most popular entrepreneurs”. These individuals are known as the pathfinders. They are the individuals with the right mindset and skill-sets, particularly, the leadership and technical expertise to discover a path and show others the way to follow or be inspired to chart their own.
My organisation, the Ghana Tech Lab, is a classic example of this phenomenon. George Appiah, the CEO of Kumasi Hive, and Nelson Amo, the CEO of Innohub, are the pathfinders of the Ghana Tech Lab. The Tech Lab was established on June 4 2018 by these two as a strategic ecosystem hub to drive digital transformation in, harness the energy, talent and creativity of young people while building and strengthening the entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem in Ghana.
Guided by the fundamental aim to accelerate Ghana’s position as Africa’s number one centre for highly skilled digital human capital, the Ghana Tech Lab seeds innovations and brings remarkable ideas to market while providing a fertile platform for partnership and collaboration with other ecosystem hubs. This enables discovery, development and deployment of innovative and promising startups for the overall development of Africa as a whole. Prof. Mark Kramer reflects on the tenets of the Shared Value Business Management Concept:
In these words lies my pride in working with Ghana Tech Lab to discover and develop passionate young people and earlystage entrepreneurs (ie pathfinders). This move identifies the business case of our existing social problems and develops them into thriving startup innovations. Unique innovations that would eventually add value to society through the quality digital skills development offered at Ghana Tech Lab, while economic value is being achieved.
To bring a little drama to this article, I have come to a firm conclusion that I exist to “inspire possibilities”. This is my purpose statement, my reason for being. I arrived at this purpose statement due to my experience with the Shared Value Africa Initiative as a participant in the first cohort of the Purpose Playbook Training.
With a grin on my face, I reflect on the countless self-talk sessions of working with a business that solves social problems. This is not in the context of a non-profit organisation (NPO) or a civil society organisation (CSO), because I was already helping a few in Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria under project development, strategy and innovation support services for specific community interventions.
Thus, I wanted to work with a business that supports economic and social value by identifying socioeconomic issues and solves them with the most suitable approach and relevant stakeholder support.
Upon several attempts to initiate some projects, I found a much better approach to achieving my goals by discovering the pathfinder’s builder concept. This involves providing relevant idea-conceptualisation support, strategy, business model innovation and reinvention, including investor-readiness and deal readiness support to new or existing startup solutions. This will aid the new era of founders who are trailblazers in their own right to have a less tiring journey that is relatively infinite.
With this came the desire to integrate and encourage my portfolio of startups to apply the Shared Value Business Management Concept as an umbrella philosophy of their business, since it includes the disciplines and principles of responsible business practices, sustainability as well as profitability. As my work grew, I joined the Ghana Tech Lab team that embodies the shared value philosophy, hence my purpose is ever in motion as I support more than 3,000 early and growth stage entrepreneurs in our community to craft their shared value philosophy for sustained economic growth even as they promote social good.