ITS WORLD MSME DAY! AND WE’RE BACKING AFRICAN SMALL BUSINESSES WITH THIS ONE THING.
Micro-small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) account for 90% of Africa’s business. By any standard, 90% of anything is a stat worth notice and portends powerful outcomes if well-harnessed. For all the power and potential resident in Africa’s MSMEs, a key drawback is low digitalization of business. This is a staple feature of small business across the continent. Added to this, is the fact that majority of micro enterprises in Africa, have a deep dependency on cash as the only acceptable payment instrument of trade.
As efforts are made to improve digitization across the African continent, Africa’s informal economy can best achieve inclusive scalability by developing digital solutions that help small businesses transition from offline, cash reliant business activities.
Designing digital solutions that help African consumers and businesses solve the risks and constraints of cash intense, offline business, while gaining greater market access requires insight into the lived human experiences of both buyer and seller in the marketplace.
Product and concept tests and user experience research that are human centred and responsive to the nuanced environmental contexts that these businesses operate in is a powerful key to unlocking sustainable solutions that are scalable. The innovation rewards may not be immediately visible given the low levels of internet access and penetration in many countries, but the incentives to invest in insight generation are certainly worth it, given Africa’s youthful, burgeoning population that is rapidly embracing digital use-cases that work for them.