Our last post shared insights on trends that will dominate Africa’s business and entrepreneurship in 2015.
To expand our understanding of the subject, we have met with Lola Pedro who is the Africa Regional Director for Trendcatching.com; she has kindly accepted to help us crack the buzz around African markets.
Please, introduce yourself to our readers
My name is Lola Pedro, I’m a Londoner born and bred. I moved to Lagos, Nigeria in 2013 to lead trendwatching.com’s expansion into Africa.
You work as the Africa Regional Director for Trendwatching, what are your roles exactly ?
I spend a lot of time mining sources, seeking out the latest insights, emerging consumer trends and innovations occurring across Africa. I look for patterns, and changes in the consumer landscape, with the aim of converting all this info into (hopefully) interesting, publishable content for both our global and domestic subscribers. I also attend business conferences, acquaint myself with startup communities, creative collectives and other inspiring Africans who are keen to connect. My client-related work mainly revolves around producing bespoke reports with tangible business opportunities and implementing trend-led innovation workshops. You can find me speaking at random events from time to time.
Can you present us your company as well as its objectives and purposes?
Since 2002, Trendwatching.com has been helping forward-thinking business professionals in over 180 countries to understand the new consumer.
Our main aim is to uncover compelling, profitable innovation opportunities for our clients. In addition to myself in Lagos, we also rely on teams in London, São Paulo, Singapore, and New York, and run a network of 3,000+ spotters globally.
How do you work with entrepreneurs to help them understand markets and reach their goals?
260,000 free subscribers (many of which are entrepreneurs) turn to Trendwatching.com for global and African trends, insights and related innovations in our Trend Bulletins. These Trend Bulletins combine data, qualitative insights and real-world innovation examples from experts and local spotters. Thus, we help identify similarities and differences in consumer markets across regions, industries and demographics. And budding entrepreneurs who read our content can expect to be presented with only the most relevant, promising consumer trends, just as they start to emerge.
What is your take on African entrepreneurship?
African entrepreneurship is multi-layered. On one hand, many entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs because of necessity. The lack of jobs and high unemployment rates mean that many youngsters are forced to do their own thing. And also, due to the many obstacles Africans face, there’s actually a lot of work to be done! However, despite these challenges, this creates great opportunities for big-thinking entrepreneurs across the continent. Those that I’ve had the pleasure to meet – in Nairobi, Lagos, Jo’burg, Accra, etc –hold an immense passion to truly improve the lives of their communities at large.
What has been the evolution of African entrepreneurship throughout the years and how do you see the growth of the private sector in Africa for the upcoming 5 -10 years?
I wasn’t here a few years ago but I certainly see the future of African entrepreneurship as a bright one. With an increasing amount of homegrown role models and success stories spawning from across the continent, iRokoTV for example – entrepreneurship is becoming a desirable career choice, more so than just something to do because there’s no other option. Over 76% of Kenyans believe that becoming an entrepreneur is a desirable career choice (Omidyar Network, April 2013).
The future of entrepreneurship will continue to flourish as start up scenes across African cities mature and connect with one another. In addition to this, without a doubt, we’ll see more money from both domestic and global investors, funders, accelerators and collaborators.
Can you help us understand what makes Africa such an exciting challenge for global companies?
I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘Africa: the final frontier’. I think this statement summarizes why perfectly. Global companies have, for a long time had a very one-dimensional view of what Africa is and are only now starting to realize the full potential of business opportunities that make the continent so compelling. This is also helped by the fact that the West has been having a hard time of late and so many large organizations have started having to think outside of the box. The size of the continent obviously helps too 😉
What are the common misconceptions about African markets?
That Africa is a country. You can have an “Africa strategy”. This is absolute rubbish, as we here know. The diversity, even in a single country is phenomenal and the sooner large brands start to understand this, the better it will be for both them and their customers.
What are the fastest-growing industries and markets on the continent?
Off the top of my head, I’d say (in no particular order): telecoms, entertainment, financial services (including mobile banking), e-commerce, real estate… the list goes on!
Can you cite us three trends that will rock Africa in 2015?
I would, but I’d just be repeating our recent bulletin, which actually has 10 ! Go check it out here.
What would you advise an entrepreneur wanting to launch a new venture in Africa?
There’s no point in simply copying and pasting innovations from the likes of Silicon Valley and other Western markets. In order to be relevant for tomorrow’s African consumer, you must localize your offering!
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Qui est Jodelle Mayoda ?
Diplômée en relations publiques, Jodelle Mayoda a eu l’opportunité dans son parcours de côtoyer et de collaborer avec de nombreux entrepreneurs dans différents domaines : technologie, mode, media, etc.
De cette proximité est né un immense respect pour ces hommes et femmes qui se donnent les moyens de réaliser leurs rêves et de changer leurs communautés. Ces rencontres ont également engendré une fascination qu’elle n’a pas tardé à partager à travers un blog qu’elle tient depuis 2011.
Comprendre les entrepreneurs et les mécanismes de l’entrepreneuriat en Afrique est devenu plus qu’une curiosité mais une véritable passion.
Avec Wajenzi, Jodelle Mayoda explore tous les contours de l’entrepreneuriat en Afrique et suit d’encore plus près les évolutions, les innovations, les idées et les succès qui changent le continent.
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