THE FUTURE:A COSMOPOLITAN AFRICA

Definition of COSMOPOLITAN

2
: a cocktail made of vodka, orange-flavored liqueur, lime juice, and cranberry juice —called also cos*mo,

source:www.merriamwebster.com

A look at history confirms that  the greatest cities are cosmopolitan.

And here is why..

Cosmopolitan towns are a treasure trove of culture,ideas and energy.

And these 3 things are the drivers of change .

Just read through the history of cities like Rome,Paris,Istanbul and you will see why.

Take cities  like Nairobi,Capetown,Cairo ,Kigali and many others in Africa,they can all be described as pretty cosmopolitan by the continents standards.

Look at their growth and study the changing nature of their cultural groups.

Further away we have Dubai ,Hong Kong ,London,Rome,New York,Toronto and Rio de Janeiro great cities they are because they are so culturally diverse.

It is a joy to see so many African cities and towns becoming so diverse with people from different cultures because these “new people” are the change agents that will push Africa from the edges of obscurity to economic and cultural power houses.

African governments and people then need to prepare themselves for more culturally diverse populations.We cannot fight it

No longer should we see other cultures as foreign but we should embrace them for the ideas and fresh perspectives they bring .

I have always found it so fascinating the growth of Australia,New Zealand ,America was fueled by people who left home and hearth in Europe.

Should we not wish the same for Africa in the next 50 years or less,that we will see major changes and more color in many more African towns and cities.

Let us see many more African governments embracing these changes in a world that is becoming increasingly more dynamic.

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THE BOOK EVERY AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADER SHOULD BE READING

The past year saw me read a business book that i could not bear to put down.

I read it into the wee hours of the night.

Here it is….

Good to Great... By Jim Collins
Good to Great… By Jim Collins

It is an absolutely fascinating book that takes you through a research project by Jim Collins and team on some of the greatest companies in American history and what it took for them to be great.

The first chapter of the book is titled “Good is the enemy of great”

Further on along the book you get to learn why  who you hire and not how much you pay them determines the trajectory .

Why do i think every business leader should read this?

Most of us have heard about Kimberly Clark,Wells Fargo,Cisco systems and Walt Disney.

What made these companies great over time?

Read the book and find out.

I am definite Steve Jobs applied the same principles and insights  highlighted in this book to make Apple the great company it is today.

Let me finish off with an excerpt from the book..

“Enduring great companies don’t exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders.Indeed,in a truly great company,profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body:They are absolutely essential for life ,but they are not the very point of life.”

THE BEST DAYS FOR BUSINESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Its Market day at the largest market in Europe  and you are at the main market square in Krakow,Poland .

Thousands upon thousands of people jostling each other ,hundreds of vendors selling their wares.

There is noise,excitement and a kaleidoscope of  colors,smells   and sounds to set your senses ablaze.

You are excited ,everyone is excited you all know you will get great things today….

Farmers market...from Pinterest.
Farmers market…from Pinterest.

Would you believe it if I told you there is a larger,wider market than the Krakow one …..and that you are on it and you should be paying attention to it…

The virtual market is right here,if you are a business and you are on social media you have access to the largest market in the world.

Imagine a market where buyers come and find no vendors,there is no order,there are no rules to follow ,it is a free for all,anything goes.

Such a market will surely flop because market places are governed by certain rules and  conditions.

For any business on social media that hoping to use social media as an additional sales channel then they need to pay attention to the times buyers are most curious,eager and willing to buy.

I have spent the last two years studying people behaviors online using my blogs and various social media accounts as case studies and what i have found is truly interesting

Those days are Wednesday,Thursday and Friday.

Why these particular days…?

On Mondays most people on social media will be very bogged down by work and Monday blues with  little or no time to be paying attention to sales and promotions on social media.

By Tuesday,work has eased down a bit but it is too early in the week to be buying or selling anything yet.

On Wednesdays work ahs eased and it is time to catch up with whats happening with friends while also plan for the week ahead.

Thursday the week is about to end,everyone is excited and shopping frenzy is at a high.

Friday…thank God for the weekend that sniffing around the corner,its time to buy buy buy.

Over the weekends sales are not so high as people are catching up with family and friends sand have little time to be logged on to social sites.

And yes there are peak periods on these three days,any time between 9 am and 3.30 pm is great.

The secret is out,change the days and times with which you seek to promote or sell your product or service and see sales soar.

HOW TO GET ON PINTEREST?

Who does not love the new kid on social media ..Pinterest.

A virtual platform where people and businesses are sharing images and videos it is a feast for the eyes.

By my own research businesses have more to gain from being on Pinterest than Face book.

Why?

We spend more time looking at images than we do at reading texts.

For business that want to get on this platform here are a few how to’s on navigating Pinterest.

1.Create a profile on Pinterest.

2.Know your target audience,your business values and culture and use images and videos that reflect this.

3.Use visually attractive and eye-catching images,have them professionally done.

4.Add links to descriptions on your pins to make it easier for your followers and other pinners to link back to your site.

5.As with all other social media follow follow follow.Make sure you follow people you find interesting,comment on pins you find interesting and engage other users.

Get more information with Amy Porterfields 10 commandments  of interest for Business.

PINTEREST IS BUSINTEREST

Logo from blog.viralheat.com

Want to get people curios about your business?

Give them something to look at,on Pinterest.

Pinterest is the best thing after Facebook for business.

Launched in March 2010,the virtual board has attracted millions of users and is now helping businesses bring in more cash .

It does not matter what kind of business you are in from lifestyle , fitness , tourism,preparing gourmet films,vintage furniture to modern art  everyone likes to have something  to look at..the more interesting and unique it is the better.

It piques people interest.

What is Africa waiting for….?

Africa with all its beauty and creativity needs to showcase what it has to offer to the rest of the world.

From  fashion designers,chefs,entrepreneurs and people in the creative industry  they  need to get on Pinterest  and generate business for themselves and for   the continent.

There are far too few pictures of African fashion,art and crafts ,decor  and other interests on Pinterest.

In a word,Africa is under represented.

In this article that appeared on blogworld.com ,Linda Sherman points out that brands are using images to engage their customers and engage them in stories around their brands and products.

Pinterest offers  the best avenue for African business and economies aiming for international growth and recognition.

The mobile application for Pinterest which was launched in August now has millions of users .

Mobile telephony being one of the fastest growing industries ,the whole world is waiting to see what Africa has to offer.

With an ever-increasing population of under 40’s who are joining the middle class  and  seeking to keep up with the rest of the world with their purchases ,Africa has the chance to showcase its best.

Pinterest is available on Android phones and tablet users as well as to users  of Kindle Fire .

MARKET INSIGHTS: WHY THE FACEBOOK GENERATION MATTERS

Fact:24-35 year olds make the largest percentage of any age group spending time online.

Question:Are brands paying attention?

Facebook has changed market dynamics.

It has changed the way we relate to each other,it has brought people from all walks of life together .Created virtual communities around interests and brands in a way that for a person who studies trends online, is simply astounding.

Almost every business is on the online wall of fame…facebook .

You no longer have to pick groceries at the supermarket ,go shopping for clothes,cosmetics or baby essentials at a brick and mortar store.

You can do it online and with the way money transfer works in Kenya…voila ..goods delivered and you did not even have to step out of your house  or office.

This trend is replicated in many other markets across Africa and in the world.

Companies,small and medium-sized businesses are now on Facebook and many have attracted their customers to their pages with offers,discounts and many other enticing goodies and freebies.

But how many of these business are paying attention to what 24-35 year olds are doing and discussing online.

This age group spends a lot of time online.

How many have sat  their marketing teams down  and discussed or even put in place plans for  what their customers will need in five or even a years time?

How many have taken in mind the changing lifestyles of these same group in 10 years time and put in place structures that will ensure they are customers for life?

When Safaricom Limited released its first quarty report,it reported that 80 billion Kenya shillings accounted for transactions between customers on its   Mpesa money transfer service.

Did you get that…. 80 billion Kenyan shillings,a third of the country’s GDP in just 6 months.

Read more about the results here and here.

With the way things online are shaping up,the next quarter will be a fantastic one for the mobile company that controls the largest percentage of the mobile money transfer market. It has more than 15 million customers registered on the mobile money transfer business.

Why focus on this age group?

These are people on their first/second jobs.

They have money to spend.

They are at crucial  periods in their lives  where major decisions like getting life partners,starting families,settling in their careers matter .

They want great service/products and are happy to pay for them.

They are creating groups based on common interests from online businesses/entrepreneurs to mummy groups to dissatisfied customer groups.

They are sharing ideas on where to get the best deals on houses,mobile devices,great discounts and venting when they get bad service.

For brands that want to keep their customers and gain more market share it means they have to be good, really good at whatever service/product they are offering.

They have to learn to anticipate what their customers need and provide it .

They have to provide a really great customer experience .

By paying attention to the lifestyle dynamics   and interests  this  generation enjoys,brands will be able to anticipate their customer needs,meet them  and survive the market place.

Let brands start listening to the online chattering going on among online communities,put their ears to the ground(figuratively of course)…it matters and in more ways than one.

SOCIAL MEDIA USE IN AFRICA:Charting our own way.

There is a lot of information on social media available on the web today.

From what social media can do, to how to reap the most from social media to dozens of new forms of social media joining existing ones.

But all of it is geared towards more developed countries and democracies and not for Africa

In our attempt to keep up with the changing times , are applying a copy and paste method for Africa especially when it comes to social media use.

All conferences and meet ups on recent technological advances are  being held in posh and plush hotels in the capitals of African countries.

Rarely do you see the laptop carrying,Ipad  and latest tech gizmo’s loving  crowd venture outside the urban centres.

Blame it on poverty,what makes commercial or business sense for the sponsors of these events but i think we need a major paradigm shift in the way Africa is going to use social media.

We all remember the Egyptian revolution that was mainly engineered through Facebook.

Closer home we have the Kenyans for Kenya initiative that saw millions raised through a campaign that was done mainly through the social networks of Facebook,Twitter and Kenyan blogs.

For most African countries they are still treading on the waters of democracy and good governance with increasing poverty levels being the straw  breaking the backs of these nations.

Instead of using social media to ape western nations lifestyles,cultures we need to ensure we are using it to open up the democratic space in African countries.

We need to be discussing our problems and solutions that will  spur development and promote democracy and good governance on the continent.

Home grown solutions will always be best , we do not need to wait for expatriates to come up with  blue prints that will get us out of the muck that is poverty.

We already have the solutions if we are willing to talk to each other,share ideas,experiences and knowledge.

Social media is such a wealth of information,opinions and ideas.

These digital platforms have provided barazas(informal forums) where everyone can be heard regardless of social standing or economic status.

Where else do you have a government permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education engaging Kenyans in a discussion on improving the education sector.

Yesterday we had such a discussion on twitter with Mr James Ole Kiyapi.

Many other stake holders and people in government are engaging their audiences and  not only in Kenya, in discussions that can move the continent forward.

 

I hope the momentum is maintained because Africa is where the rest of the world will want to be in 10 years time.

Some corporates are already aware of this and have already set up African offices.

With a youthful population, a highly educated and the huge potential both in terms of intellectual resources as well as natural resources,we need to prepare for the change that is coming and fast.