I was privileged to address delegates at the FCB Africa Conference 2017 - a gathering hosted by one of South Africa’s well-respected advertising agencies, FCB Africa, this week. The event brought together the group’s agency partners from no less than 30 African countries.
Most of the deliberations centred around the importance of changing individual and organisational outlook and practice-- with an emphasis on the need to invest heavily in proactive digital transformation initiatives to ensure we all remain competitive in this increasingly digitally-driven global economy.
At the forum, I shared an argument I’ve posed before, that Africa is home to the truest form of innovation because its brand of innovation is born of two things: a keen survival instinct, and a desire to progress and thrive despite circumstances.
While the correlation between staying on top of digital transformation trends and remaining commercially viable appears decidedly clear to advertising and media agencies, Africa’s investment community does not seem to possess a similarly progressive mindset. This needs to be addressed if promising tech ventures on the continent are to get the resources and support they need to significantly improve the lives of the average African. I believe a mix of counter- productive attitudes held by the continent’s investors is leading to an unhealthy fixation on traditional big ticket investment plays in the tech space.
African investors tend to favour deals that either appear too big to fail or business opportunities that are led by precedent. Ignorance, a fear of the unknown, greed, an unwillingness to delay gratification and even laziness - all contribute to sustaining a deeply-ingrained disinterest in funding early-stage tech start-ups.