I always ask myself, how big is the BOP movement? It’s following in terms of corporates, scholars, researchers and what I consider to be the missing ingredient here in Africa, the entrepreneurs or should I say social entrepreneurs. Al Hammond posted a very insight entry on his blog on Nextbillion.net today where he’s looking at taking BOP strategies to scale. I think Scaling BOP strategies is really a huge challenge. Two issues come to mind here,
- The average person still doesn’t have interest in understanding what the BOP is, what commercial strategies to fighting public problems entails and how different it is from charity. This group of people includes business school graduates.
- What those in Europe and the US consider BOP might actually be the average target market to the average corporate exec here in Africa, so could it be said the BOP acumen comes naturally to African business people an execs?
Once again I’m afraid to report that Africa is trailing behind in the BOP space, are you surprised? Emeka Okafor and I could shake hands on what we think the problem is, Entrepreneurship and lack thereof. There seems to be very entrenched feeling of entitlement in Africa and I think it’s disruptive to this otherwise hard working populations progress. When I read my daily dose of BOP news monitor the regular players, one trend is certain, you can’t be serious player unless you are in India. We need to find a way of awakening African entrepreneurs, why are we missing from the action? The many BOP initiatives in India are successful because they are driven by locals, many time locals who have returned from the diaspora with inspiration and insight. An urgent overhaul of our education systems is in order. Ashesi University founded by Patrick Awuah is a leap in the right direction.
I need to come with an Africa conference to highlight the opportunity to do well by doing good to African entrepreneurs and improve deal flow and geographical risk of the portfolio of the organisations such as Acumen Fund, Gray Matters Capital, Unitus and Unitus New Ventures just to name a few.