Ghana is spearheading a new project that explores how small farmers in the ECOWAS bloc can supply produce to the UK once it severs ties with the EU. Researchers are looking at how "what ifs" could become reality...[more]
All of us believe things that might be inconsistent, not based on how the real world actually works or not shared by others. That’s what makes us human.
There are some questions we can ask ourselves about our beliefs that might help us create the change we seek:
Is it working?
If your belief is working for you, if it’s helping you navigate a crazy world and find solace, and if it’s not hurting anyone else, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. Often, beliefs are about finding human connection and a way to tell ourselves about our place in the world, not as an accurate predictive insight as to what’s actually happening. And beliefs are almost always about community, about being part of something.
Is it helpful?
Air traffic controllers and meteorologists rarely believe that the earth is flat. It’s a belief that would get in the way of being competent at their work. If your beliefs are getting in the way of your work, of your health or the health of those around you, or of your ability to be a contributing citizen, it might be worth examining why you have them and how they got there. Did you decide to have these beliefs or did someone with an agenda that doesn’t match yours promote them?
Is it true?
True in the sense that it’s falsifiable, verifiable, testable and predictive. Falsifiable means that the belief is specific enough that something contrary to the belief could be discovered (“there are no orange swans” is a falsifiable belief, because all we need to do is find one orange swan). It’s not necessary for a belief to be scientifically true, in fact, it undermines the very nature of belief to require evidence. Once there’s evidence, then whatever is true is true, whether or not you believe it.
Do you need it to be true?
Which means that much of what we do to somehow prove our beliefs are true is wasted time and effort. If a belief is helping you make your way through the world, if it acts as a placebo and a balm and a rubric, then that’s sufficient. The problems occur when some people use our beliefs to manipulate us, when they prevent us from accomplishing our goals or contributing to the well being of those around us.
What would change your mind?
If we decide that our belief is actually true, we owe it to ourselves to be clear about what would have to happen for us to realize that it’s not. One of the frustrating things about conspiracies and modern memes is that as soon as they’re examined or contradicted, they’re simply replaced with a new variation. It’s one thing to change beliefs because the scientific method shows us a more clear view of what’s happening, it’s totally different to retreat to ever more unrelated stories in the face of reality. Sometimes, it’s easier for people to amend their belief with one more layer of insulation than it is to acknowledge how the world is likely to work.
Rodolphe Zan forms a cooperative to help poultry farmers in Wayalgui to better organise themselves and take good care of their birds. This cooperative has received support from the iDEAL Burkina project through training on the use of ICTs, and allocation of computer equipment. "It was very beneficial because we were trained in finding customers through Facebook and in communicating through Facebook. We have a page dedicated to the cooperative. We had to do it because, quite simply, we understood that we have to go on the internet," says Rodolphe.
Even though malaria has been known to man since the year 2700 BC, the malaria problem remains unsolved. And malaria is one of the deadliest diseases (most especially in the Tropics) killing about half a million people annually with the children under the age of 5 years suffering malaria’s worst scourge. These rank malaria as one of the most important public health and clinical health problems till date...[more]
I’ve blogged many times about the chasm.
That’s Geoffrey Moore’s term for the gap between the small part of the market populated with people who like to go first, and the larger group of people who want to get involved with something that’s proven, popular and effective.
The early adopters ask, “is it new?”
The early majority ask, “did it work?” and perhaps, “what’s everyone else doing?”
Longtime readers of this blog know that I do my work for early adopters. The smallest viable audience is sufficient to make an impact, and it allows me to focus on the people who are enrolled in the journey forward.
But if you delight the early adopters, they spread the word. That is how the chasm is crossed–not with fancy ads or clever hype, but because the people who are engaged do the generous work of telling the others.
We’re launching the first lessons of the tenth edition of The Marketing Seminar this week. With more than 10,000 alumni, it’s the most popular workshop on the Akimbo platform. And it works. That’s why the 8,000 people who took it after the initial launch decided to join in. Not everyone goes first. Almost no one does. That’s how our culture changes–when the few early adopters tell the others. And so each of us has to persist and continue to show up in the marketplace, doing the work and earning the trust of people who don’t get a thrill out of going first.
People don’t show up when you launch.
They show up when they’re ready.
Most of the time, the phrase is, “it’s time to get back to work.”
This means it’s time to stop being creative, stop dancing with possibility, stop acquiring new insights and inspiration–and go back to the measurable grind instead.
Maybe we’d be better off saying, “I need to get back to making magic.” Because that’s what we’d actually like to be getting paid to create.
Printing a cornea, engineering a heart, growing meat, and helping the paralyzed walk – this may all sound like science fiction but it's happening right now in laboratories in Israel engaging in Bio-convergence...[more]
If you want to have an argument, to raise tempers or to distract, the easiest thing to do is start bringing up things that are easy to argue about.
Not the things that are important.
Because the important things require nuance, patience and understanding. They require an understanding of goals, of the way the world works and our mutual respect.
If someone keeps coming back to an irrelevant, urgent or provocative point instead, they’re signaling that they’d rather not talk about the important thing.
Which is precisely what we need to talk about.
If you are familiar with Nigeria, you may have heard of the city of Aba in Abia State, in the country's southeast. It one of Nigeria's industrial clusters and the biggest shoe market in the West African sub-region. But a new set of shoe manufacturers are competing to put another Southeast Nigerian State on the map. CGTN's Deji Badmus has that story.
“But why is this important?”
When we encounter a fashion, a film or some other cultural artifact that the critical establishment has celebrated, it’s easy to not understand it.
Taste, after all, is unevenly distributed.
But you don’t have to like something to understand why someone else thought it was important.
To move the culture forward, we need to have the empathy to imagine what others are seeing, liking and talking about.
Once you get the joke, you don’t have to laugh at it, but it definitely makes it easier for you to tell the next one.
KOBE TWINS is a leather products manufacturing business. Our product include: leather bags (travel, laptop bags, briefcases, cross body shoulder bags,messenger bag, etc), horse bridles, sandals/rafters flip flops dog harnesses belts, wallets, purses etc
In Africa, there is an estimated one extension worker per 4,000 farmers, compared with one per 200 hundred farmers in developed countries. This ratio falls far below the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommendation of 1 officer for every 400 farmers. To bridge this gap Nigeria-based agritech startup “Rural Farmers Hub” has developed a remote extension service delivery application called Capture and is working on a big data analytics technology named Village Chief. While Capture is a remote extension delivery software that provides farmers with advisory services via SMS or voice app, Village chief is a big data analytics dashboard, that helps farm organisations, industries, corporates and government make key agribusiness decisions; both applications leverage satellite data extensively...[more]
A friend shared a new business idea with me yesterday. Some business model questions came to mind, asked here rhetorically. If you get them right, everything else is easier:
How will you get new paying customers?
Why will your paying customers tell their friends and colleagues?
Will this business work at a scale that you can both achieve and are happy living with?
Is it easy to start?
If it is, what will keep others from starting it?
How do you avoid a race to the bottom where you’re trapped making a cheap commodity as a middleperson?
Will it get easier as you go? Why?
What incentive do customers have to stick with you instead of switching to a cheaper or more convenient choice?
Businesses that are cheap to start, depend on providing a useful service at a cheap margin and are largely fungible or invisible are often difficult to turn into thriving enterprises. Customer traction, the network effect and emotional connection can change this, particularly if you build them in from the start.
In the middle of December last year I found myself hiking through the rain forest in a pair of second-hand boots that were made for anything but feet. They were so terrible they caused a blister to form and peel on top of my toe joint. I eventually de-shoed determined to walk barefoot but someone agreed to switch shoes with me. In the midst of that searing pain, no mobile connectivity, no sound of humans but for my crew, fresh air in my nostrils and lust for the unknown I fell deeply in love. Even as I walked sally-one-side and grunted here and there, in my heart I was overwhelmed with joy...[more]
Bubu Ogisi is making African fashion in Africa for Africans. The Nigerian creative director, stylist and the designer behind the label IAMISIGO, Ogisi is committed to celebrating African philosophies, fabrics and techniques. She and her close-knit teams of artisans have created a label which breaks many of the "rules" about what African brands are and should be...[more]
Deep technology has been defined as technology that is based on tangible engineering innovation or scientific advances and discoveries. Deep Tech is often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation it can create, and its potential to catalyse change.
Africa has had great success over the last 20 years. The last 10, in particular, have seen several advances in infrastructure across the continent and the rise in use of the internet and mobile phones. The opportunity for entrepreneurship and innovation support has also grown with the rise of over 640 innovation hubs that have been critical in catalysing innovation across the continent. We have to acknowledge though, that there are still deep-rooted problems on the continent because of which we are still struggling to experience how technology can be a real game-changer and catalyst for some of Africa’s fundamental challenges. From corruption to insufficient funding for innovators and lack of innovative cultures, there is still much to be done in ensuring a resilient innovation ecosystem. Until then, unfortunately, some of Africa’s most impactful solutions may be built outside Africa.
In this article, I look at why Africa needs to begin to embrace Deep Tech, why it is well-positioned to benefit from homegrown solutions and some considerations to be made in embracing Deep Tech. I initially shared these thoughts during a talk on Deep Technology in Africa hosted by Chatham House. I spoke alongside Dr Riam Kanso, CEO, Conception X, Malik Bedri, Partner, Diaspora Ventures. The session was moderated by Ahmed Soliman, Research Fellow, Africa Programme, Chatham House. You can watch the video here.
Deep tech is made for Africa. Africa is made for Deep Tech
Many African innovations have grown on a foundation of building solutions for social good and then profit. Technology in Africa is presented in the image of desires and needs of communities to survive and to do so with dignity. Any tool that allows Africa’s innovators to do this and do it at scale and sustainably, has a great chance of succeeding.
Deep Tech companies tend to solve intractable societal or environmental challenges. According to the 2019 Dawn Of the Deep Tech Ecosystem report by the Boston Consulting Group which has identified some 8,600 Deep Tech companies worldwide, they make up a significant share of startups tackling several United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDG), including SDG 3 (good health and well-being, 51%), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure, 50%) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities, 28%).
Deep tech startups are also solving for the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 to make Africa a global powerhouse of the future by among other things, improving Africans standards of living and ensuring transformed inclusive and sustainable economies on the continent. For example, DroneSig in Angola is providing geographical intelligence with the help of drones to support decision making in private and public sector that impact in agricultural and mining sectors, while Matibabu in Kenya is addressing malaria disease management by offering a cost-effective rapid early diagnosis of malaria and RxAll in Nigeria is detecting counterfeit drugs.
So, Deep Tech is a catalyst to bring about progress in Africa and for Africa to show leadership in technology.
Africa’s Investment in Deep Tech is a long game.
Developing a practical business or consumer applications in Deep Tech not only requires significant research and development (R&D) to bring them from the lab to the market, it also usually takes more time and money than launching and scaling a typical software startup. According to some research studies, a biotech startup needs about 4 years on average from incorporation to market while a blockchain startup may need about 2.5 years. A biotech startup may need about $1.2M in capital and that will be about 6 times more than a blockchain startup. This is significantly more time and money than it would take to build your average software solution, which can be done in under a year.
Investment in Deep Tech therefore has to come from private investors interested in the process of development. This means that deep tech is not for those investors looking for a quick return on investment. It will need investors invested in the continent, perhaps even on an emotional level. Current startup funding models built to identify the next shiny thing or social media platform with hundreds of millions of users, may not be patient enough.
Investment will also have to come from governments invested in building homegrown solutions in conjunction with hubs and academic institutions that are able to surface innovators in this space. Governments will offer not only funding but a guaranteed user base as well as a robust Intellectual Property framework that creates an environment that allows Deep Tech to thrive. Government is the biggest purchaser of technology in Africa – a large chunk of this money now needs to go to deep tech.
Africa has issues to address
Africa has to revisit her innovation culture to ensure that it is one that enables the ability, willingness and opportunity to innovate. For deep tech or any other innovation, to thrive and be sustainable, all players must do their part.
National and sub-national governments must prioritise ease of doing business to attract innovators, businesses and investment, for example, tax benefits for local investment in innovation. Governments should build data ecosystems on the foundation of open data as articulated in the Africa Data Consensus. Amounts of data available need to increase to form a credible foundation for usable solutions. Quality data release will allow for the creation and scaling of data-driven innovations. It will increase the effectiveness of research results in informing community needs.
We need to look at reforming the education system by rewarding innovators and inventors with opportunity. The private sector also needs to be pushing for long term favourable policies and competitive local, quality, production of commodities. The private sector must also ensure the improved impact of production on social and environmental standards. Academic institutions and innovation hubs must intentionally nurture Deep Tech ideas and in collaboration with the private sector ensure a pipeline of ideas that can be tested, developed and scaled.
Local communities must be involved in the creation of solutions especially given that for most solutions, they would be the intended market or consumers.
Improved infrastructure will be key to Africa taking full advantage of the opportunity Deep Tech presents. We must also not relent on connecting communities until the last mile is done. The more access local communities have to the process of innovation, the more likely it is that economies will build solutions that scale. Giving access to local communities also catalyses innovation. Regionally, we need to see more high end, accessible centres of excellence that allow for quantum computing.
Africa is opening up
The continental free trade area will allow African countries to enter new markets. This promises to increase uptake of homegrown innovations including Deep Tech solutions. The agreement promises to lower barriers to collaboration and trade across borders meaning that solutions will be that much easier to adapt to the needs of different African regions.
Innovators building Deep Tech solutions can now immediately map out what scale of their products across regions looks like and right from the beginning, build for continental impact.
Scale and sustainability are keywords when it comes to investment and making the case for this will make investing in African innovation by local investors more viable. The promise of entering new markets and expanding customer bases is attractive to any investor. This adds capital to expand local industries and boost domestic businesses.
Ultimately, Deep Tech presents one more opportunity for Africa to quickly transform into the best version of itself. But like with everything else, it needs Africans to grab the opportunity and make the most of it.
People who are very good at Scrabble are not more kind, better judges of character, more facile with soft skills, better long-term thinkers, more fun at parties or much of anything except good at Scrabble.
Of course we don’t decide on who should have positions of authority or who should be trusted based on their skill at Scrabble. It’s simply a game.
Perhaps the same could be true for beauty, celebrity or the acquisition of wealth.
On 17 August 2020, Space in Africa published an analysis on some of the challenges preventing large space and telecoms projects from being executed from Africa. The analysis focused on the hindrances Elon Musk would have faced if he had attempted to launch the SpaceX project from South Africa, his birth country. As it hit professional networking site, LinkedIn, a comment popped, mentioning that “Netloxh will develop, manufacture and launch rockets from South Africa with satellites for the purpose of research and space exploration.” I followed up with the comment to understand the possibility of this happening anytime soon, and it would result in a series of back and forth communication with the CEO of Netloxh...[more]
The US continues to dominate investment in agritech innovation. According to AgFunder research, US startups netted $8.7 billion in funding across 683 deals last year.
That’s just over a third of all 1,858 agrifoodtech venture deals worldwide – and closer to half of of total global funding in dollar terms, at $19.8 billion.
But China isn’t far behind – and, as the consumer digital revolution that has gripped the country in the past decade moves up the supply chain to the farm gate, it’s only going to close the gap with the US farther. That’s the view of Matilda Ho, founder and managing director of Shanghai-based VC firm Bits x Bites...[more]
Do you try to persuade people of your point of view?
Do you interact with customers? (Or patients, subscribers, fans or citizens)…
Are you a designer?
Would life be easier if your boss understood you better?
Is there a policy you’d like to change or a candidate you’d like to help elect?
Are you hoping to make things better?
Then you’re a marketer.
Proud of it.
Might as well learn to do it better. Because the work matters.
Today’s launch day for the tenth session of The Marketing Seminar. It’s the most effective, widely proven and popular workshop of its kind. I hope you’ll check it out. (Today’s the best day to look for the purple circle). It’s our last session of the year, and this is a great time to join in. That link gets you a significant time-sensitive discount at checkout.
So far more than 10,000 people in nearly a hundred countries have shown up and connected, contributed and learned to improve their craft.
We’d love to have you join us. (Check out what nearly 100 alumni had to say).
Rural Farmers Hub was founded on the vision to encourage sustained economic development of smallholder farmers by achieving higher levels of productivity through innovative information technology (IT). We're a private e-Extension Service provider helping farmer organisations and Extension Agents support their farmers with better farming decisions via satellite remote sensing or in-person. Our proprietary technology leverages modern scientific methodology and make them backward-compatible with ordinary mobile phones.
Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday designated the title of “securities” to crypto assets and hence will be regulated by it. According to the regulator of the capital market, its power to regulate the crypt asset class derives from Section 13 of the Investment and Securities Act, 2007...[more]
A team of researchers from Germany and Korea are working to turn this around, and have created an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can learn how to selectively grip, and move, separate molecules through the autonomous use of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) which is used for imaging surfaces at the atomic level. So, if we go back to the LEGO metaphor, the team made an autonomous robot that can play with LEGO bricks on the nanoscale, which could have major ramifications for molecular 3D printing...[more]
If made freely, a choice feels like the right thing at the time.
But we realize it was a mistake later, once the moment passes. We don’t know now what we learned in the future.
Bad choices can be caused by:
- Poor information
- Shoddy analysis (including cognitive glitches and reliance on sunk costs)
- Peer pressure
- Power imbalance
- Focus on the short run
- Unexamined biases
Take a look: each of these is the product of outside forces and can be unlearned and insulated against. The good news is that we can get better at our choices.
Sam Nwanze, Chief Investment Officer, Heirs Holdings Nigeria and one of Africa's first impact investors talks about the opportunities and challenges of the multi-billion dollar social investing industry in Africa. Sam Nwanze, Chief Investment Officer, Heirs Holdings Nigeria and one of Africa's first impact investors talks about the opportunities and challenges of the multi-billion dollar social investing industry in Africa. Sam will discuss how the future of Africa can be driven by internal social impact investors from the Continent through 'Afrocapitalist' investment strategies...[more]
When Nigerian angel investor Tomi Davies backed his first company — Strika Entertainment in 2001 — he admits he wasn’t aware of his future role.
“I was just helping out friends. I didn’t know it was angel investing. I didn’t know there was a structure to it,” he said.
Seven years later, Davies received a 20x return on his first exit and a decade after that he’s recognized as an architect of early-stage investing across Africa...[more]
What an accurate and horrible term.
It’s hard to imagine that most people would look forward to taking lessons. In the piano or arithmetic or anything else.
You take medicine. You take your punishment. It’s unwanted but grudgingly accepted.
The term gives away the intent behind it.
Learning is different. Learning is something we get to do, it’s a dance, an embrace, a chance to turn on some lights.
You don’t take a workshop. You are part of one.
Building upon the experience of accelerating nearly 100 agriculture-related enterprises that have collectively saved, improved, or transformed 40 million lives and raised almost $100 million in capital following their participation in our programs, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is honored to support a new cohort of enterprises creating climate resilience in sub-Saharan Africa.
18 for-profit and hybrid organizations addressing food security through tech-enabled solutions are participating in Miller Center’s Food Systems Accelerator cohort, which runs September 2020 through February 2021. This program provides executive mentorship, targeted content, and strategic partnership with ecosystem supporters like Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the African Green Revolution Forum, and the Sankalp Forum Africa Summit...[more]
Sometimes I talk about the education-industrial complex on this blog, rarely with kindness. I captured much of that in Stop Stealing Dreams.
Readers will see that not once have I criticized a hard-working teacher who meant well. That’s because it’s the bureaucratic industrial system that’s at fault here, not the teachers.
Now more than ever, with teachers scrambling with remote learning, personal health and the shifts in our culture, they matter.
Teachers matter because they have the guts to buck the dominant test and measure system. Because they show up with care and energy, and because they lead.
By time spent, what percentage of the typical school experience is spent on: tests, test prep, comportment, homework, memorization, the curriculum and the social pressure of fitting in?
And what percentage is spent on daydreaming, inventing, creating from scratch, doing it without a manual and finding new solutions to difficult problems?
I don’t think it’s an accident that we spend a fortune on high school football and almost nothing on creative writing hackathons.
Change is going to come from parents and from teachers who care. The system defends the system, and the system requires adherence and stability.
The massive shift to remote learning opens the door to slip in the kind of challenging problem solving and connection that we need right now. We have to hurry, though, because surveillance and more testing is probably right around the corner.
Even though the harm may be the same, we’re much more likely to move on from an acknowledged accidental mistake.
Is it because we know that we’ve made honest mistakes ourselves, and the act of forgiving the other person is a way of forgiving ourselves? Or is it because it feels more random and less personal to be impacted by something that was a mistake?
Or perhaps, there’s some sort of reparation when the other person apologizes and works to improve… as if our suffering made a contribution for others who will follow.
In a third situation, a random accident, where there isn’t a perpetrator, it seems as though we’re the most likely to move on. If the cause is a fellow human, somehow we process misfortune differently. The intention is a double injury.
And yet, after the incident, when each of us is faced with the chance to acknowledge that we made an honest mistake, we often compound the problem and turn it into something more like an intentional act, simply because we’ve been taught to avoid taking personal responsibility.
How is becoming an industrialized nation like learning math? In this video, Assistant Vice President and Economist Yi Wen discusses the stages a nation must go through for an industrial revolution. He also touches on why it took so long for China to become an industrialized nation...[more]
The way you’re feeling… is it because of something that’s going on around you? Or are you simply feeling something and there’s a situation?
One way to determine the difference:
Has this situation ever happened without you (or anyone, for that matter) feeling the way you’re feeling?
[to pick an outdated example, one that someday we might experience again]:
“I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed because there are ten people waiting for a table at the restaurant and we’re falling behind.”
Except: plenty of people who run restaurants have experienced ten people waiting for a table without feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
It’s not the line that’s causing the stress. It’s your interpretation of the line.
You’re overwhelmed and there’s a line.