Startups are one thing that Africa has in plenty. Entrepreneurs will have a significant effect on the continent’s economic development if an enabling environment is created for them.
Startups are using technology and developing new solutions to address some of Africa’s most pressing concerns all around the continent.
Everything from water and energy to health care and banking is available. This startup energy must be leveraged, and the firms founded by talented young Africans must be encouraged and backed, and an enabling environment is required for this to happen.
While many African businesses suffered huge failures as a result of the pandemic lockdown, tech startups in Africa were not as badly hit, since many of them found ways to better service their clients and provide value even during the lockdown.
A Tech Communications Consultant, Josephine Eyre, discusses how the resilience of African startups during the 2020 lockdown.
CFA: Joe glad to have you on the show today.
Joe: Thanks for having me.
CFA: Right, so tell me, how do you see the African startup ecosystem in the face of the pandemic and a difficult 2020?
Joe: Well, I think it’s been a really challenging year for all of us, but if there is one thing I’d say that the African startups are and have shown time and time again it’s resilience.
I’ve seen businesses really take to heart that Churchill’s old adage of never letting a good crisis go to waste so naturally startups with a focus on things like travel, and tourism have been quite badly hit but the beauty I think of many of the tech startups, particularly in Africa is that a lot of them were already quite well positioned to deliver all their best services online and those that weren’t many have actually pivoted quite successfully.
One of the areas I’ve been looking at quite closely is e-commerce and it’s been a really interesting one to watch because in general, they had quite a tough few months over hard lockdown to weather the storm have actually come back stronger and you know, people don’t really want to go into malls quite so much and people are getting used to shopping online more so it’s going to be great to see where that goes in the future.
CFA: This brings me to the question of resilience. How resilient do you think the average African startup is or the ecosystem in general?
Joe: I’d say that the wonderful thing about startups in general really is that they have a great ability to maintain flexibility and agility.
Certainly more than the larger businesses and perhaps they have recognized that core offering has been hit with the crisis but many startups still have customers in need, audiences that they need to speak to and so they pivoted to support them in different ways and there’s a co-working space that I know here in Cape Town, they were close for a long period over the lockdown due to all of the restrictions but what they ended up doing is compartmentalizing their office into small individual pods and they rented gym equipment and then they started offering this one person fitness pods. This was a fantastic way to keep offering value to customers in a slightly different way so that was really cool to see. ( Watch the full video here)
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