More often I hear people say the next Mark Zuckerburg will come from Africa or that the next Twitter will be from Africa. With respect I don’t necessarily think that Africa needs the next facebook or twitter. I think Africa has unique challenges and African innovators and entrepreneurs need to come up with innovations that will solve those challenges. We face challenges of clean water, sanitation, education, food security, infrastructure, crime etc.
Africa doesn’t necessarily need innovations that will serve social contemporary consumption. Africa needs innovations that will solve social challenges. Innovation that will have the necessary required impact.
Innovation is something else entirely. Many entrepreneurs use an innovation to make an impact, but the hard part, the part that we are rewarded for, is engaging with the user, the audience, the market. Bringing something to people who didn’t think they wanted it, know about it or initially welcome it, and make a difference.
One reason it’s so difficult to teach entrepreneurship is that we are not teaching tactics or skills. We are not teaching spreadsheets or finance or even marketing. No, when we encourage entrepreneurship, we are actually trying to get people to the place where they care enough and where they are confident enough to stand up and try to make things change.
Don’t tell me what you invented. Tell me about who you changed.