The need to innovate or be creative is not a new concept in itself and many of the traditional, successful, global corporations have whole departments dedicated to this.

In an ever changing business landscape with increased competition, shrinking market share and the emergence of new technologies, it is critically important for businesses that want to stay a step ahead to embrace innovation as core part of their strategy – or at least begin to give some thought to it.

It is no secret that the emergence of the “disruptive business models” used by the new age global corporations such as Facebook, Uber and Air BnB have truly disrupted the traditional models of doing business and have gained huge market share and generated huge revenues. And the common denominator amongst these and many other emerging businesses has been their ability to read the market and develop products/services to fit the requirements of their (potential) consumers, taking full advantage of technological advances. And this innovative approach has allowed many of these companies to target and enter markets across the globe which, ordinarily could have been difficult to penetrate.

And for UK based businesses particularly, the current trade relations atmosphere is a compelling enough reason to start looking at alternative markets to sell goods and services into, and the African continent, with a population of over 1 billion people sprawled across 54 different countries with increased spending power, provides a vast ‘buffet’ of potential consumers who can be targeted. However, in order to effectively take advantage of the Africa opportunity, businesses must become more deliberate and innovative in how they sell into Africa and this innovation cuts across products, services and strategies. This will mean engaging partners who know and understand the local economies.

In addition to that, entrepreneurs across the continent are positioning themselves and their businesses to not only take advantage of the vast local opportunities, but also looking at global markets. They are also becoming more deliberate and innovative in the development of their offerings in order to attract the right kind of customers from the global market.

As an example, a Nigeria based organisation has set up a campus-style facility in the heart of Lagos providing a space for both local and international organisations to innovate and develop new products for their clients. And because of the myriad of issues businesses face on a daily basis operating in Nigeria, the company has created an effective offering, which includes office space for up to 25 companies, research labs, audio/visual studio, conference and meeting spaces, business support packages (administrative, legal, accounting etc.), 24 hour electricity, high speed internet connectivity and much more.

Many organisations have operated with a ‘plug and play’ strategy when going into Africa but it is time to recognise that the continent must be targeted based on the Africa consumer’s unique needs and then becoming more discerning, creatively developing products and services to meet them.

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Kevin Korgba

Kevin is Co-Founder and Managing Director of ETK Group, leading a team of highly experienced executives, consultants and trainers helping businesses develop their strategies and providing market-specific training solutions to ensure they achieve operational excellence, whether going into or coming out of Africa. He has experience in the ‘retail’ Oil & Gas sector in Nigeria, and has worked in Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. Kevin is a public speaker and university guest lecturer, lending his knowledge and experience at various educational, business and entrepreneurship development panels including regular speaking engagements at UK Department for International Trade workshops on Africa. He holds a BA (Hons) Business Administration from the University of East London, an MSc Global Banking & Finance from the European Business School London (Regent’s University) and an MBA from Webster Graduate School, London (Webster University, St. Louis, USA). Kevin is also a member of the board of the Business Council for Africa (BCA).

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