Innovation and strategy agency Systemic Innovation recently launched African Scalecraft; a critical systems examination of contexts, barriers, enablers, and future pathways for scaling commercial ventures in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Co-authored by Scott Walker FRSA, the thesis was simple: to identify and understand the under-researched and misunderstood mechanics and drivers in the African context of effective scaling, to improve prospects of commercial success as well as broader socio-economic impact.
High-growth scaling ventures are socio-economic game changers and, as such, they are key to securing Africa’s future prosperity. A systems lens helped assess the interdependence between the factors at play.
The analysis is broad and covers a range of contextual macro factors which influence the ability of a venture to reach and sustain high-growth, including socio-economic factors, political and regulatory barriers, and the challenges associated with nascent innovation infrastructures.
Evaluating the emergent African entrepreneurial ecosystem is vital because the enabling environment sets growth conditions. Question marks remain regarding the performance of traditional acceleration models; unquestionably there needs to be more focus on data, insights and greater collaboration in the future.
Scaling really concerns organisational dynamics as growth occurs. Enterprises employ different growth and management strategies. Scaling firms need a different type of support. The role of leadership really matters, especially given that the experience of the talent pool is shallow. This will require new market and systems solutions.
Capital fuels growth. Institutional actors and investors are presented with a series of propositions to encourage further investment and better returns. The applied research project resulted from funding awarded by the UK Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. The team are now working with partners, investors and funders to design new ways forward.
The team invites feedback and debate from RSA Fellows, especially those open and willing to contribute towards the advanced recommendations and forward roadmap.