Our company made a commitment in 2005 to transferring business skills and innovative practices, along with new technologies, to emerging markets. Our associates share a passion for this effort. But, frankly, we don’t say much about it in our communiqués, and we’re likely missing opportunities to marshal more support and gather additional resources. We know that we need to change that in the coming months.
Throughout Africa, business knowledge is crucial to economies at every stage of development. It enables companies to establish more effective capabilities necessary for developing thriving businesses. Knowledge transfer between companies makes sense. Well-structured collaborations are thriving and the benefits flow in both directions.
Efforts are mounting to raise awareness. In 2007, an unprecedented string of high profile events placed this agenda on the radar screen. After the Davos symposium and the much lauded TED events in both Monterrey and Arusha, Tanzania, African entrepreneurial successes are getting lots of attention.
In a more modest French conference hosted by Insead last April, “Nurturing Business Education in Africa,” a diverse group of educators focused on practical steps for transferring knowledge. “We will be looking for practical ways that business schools and their professors can strengthen the capability of African schools to train the continent’s future managers.”
A recent CNN Int’l article notes, “Africa is in desperate need of qualified and talented management to help its economies, not only running companies but helping entrepreneurs and ensuring more effective corporate and legislative governance policy”.
The publicity that Africa is getting seems mostly helpful and is growing more so as it attracts not just luminaries, but pragmatic entrepreneurs whose early forays are informing the business community about the region’s market potential. But, a looming concern is this becoming a flavor of the day movement.
Like all trends, it runs the risk of being discarded, supplanted by the next, new shiny idea. Another issue is the process being co-opted by global companies seeking to enhance their images. This may dampen the aspirations of those who genuinely want to make things happen.
This project isn’t for short term thinkers. Gains typically come through successive approximations. It takes patience and perseverance to develop opportunities across cultural divides. But, we’re finding that it’s worth the effort.