#SolutionMindset: The “shared economy” business model (Part 2)

__Don’t complain and cry… Instead, imagine!

A young American was visiting Zimbabwe as a backpacker and discovered it was easy to get around because people would give him a “lift” and charge for the ride. He noticed that most people travelled to work using “paid-for lifts.” To an American who spent countless wasted hours stuck in traffic jams, this was revolutionary! He went home and with a colleague decided to launch a “ride sharing” business called Zimride (which was soon acquired by a big car rental company). Thereafter, six years ago he and his partner launched another “shared economy” business called “Lyft” which is now worth an estimated $15bn+. It’s the main competitor to Uber!

Another young man wanted to go into the hotel business but he did not have “enough money” to build hotels. Whilst some would have despaired, he and two friends came up with an ingenious entrepreneurial solution that has helped them build a business more valuable than the biggest hotel groups in the world!

That business, of course, is called Airbnb, a concept used in African cities for decades, probably longer. We started talking about this last week. In my own country, people who do not own their own home often rent space in other people’s houses as “lodgers.” Millions of people in Africa find lodgings in this and similar ways. Like Uber, Airbnb (now considered worth some $37bn only 10 years since its founding) could also be an idea born out of Africa!

Suddenly I can hear a howl of indignant complaints from the “conspiracy theorists,” but this is not the entrepreneurial way to respond. All it means is that, thanks to technology and innovation, there are other similar new opportunities right on our doorstep here at home!

The response is for our own young entrepreneurs to study these new pathways to developing businesses, and re-imagine them to digitize things like our “urban lodging system,” and many other similar situations. The person who digitizes urban accommodation in African cities, will be an African Airbnb… Could this be one of you?

Look around! What do you “see”?!

Come on guys, what do I have to do to wake you up?! Wipe those tears of bitterness off your cheeks simply because you thought you don’t have access to opportunities or capital.

__Re-imagine the business model, and find other smart ways to get yourself into business. You could be the next Uber or Airbnb!

# Do you have new resources? Optimize them.

# Do you have used resources? Find a new home for them.

# Do you have resources that are under-utilized? (Say you only use them a few hours a day, or a week, or month, for example… the rest of the time they are idle).

# Do you rather need access to such resources?

The “shared economy” business model allows you to do smart things with very little capital. It allows you to leverage limited resources, skills and/or assets.

I spoke last week about a guy who developed an App to help people find a free tractor in his agricultural community. Another business facilitates “sharing” of big equipment to construction sites, and yet another enables hospitals to “share” expensive hospital equipment.

Cassava Fintech (one of our businesses) developed a business model to help rural people pool their savings using mobile money.

A group of young entrepreneurs in South Africa replaced the “Office Messenger” with a (shared) system called Sendr. Companies call for “Sendr” when they need a parcel delivered quickly. This was really cool so I invested! Now I’m going to help them turn every “Okada” (Nigerian motorcycle taxi) into a “Sendr” agent!

__Call to Action! The “shared economy” business model is a new pathway to entrepreneurial success. It enables you to solve problems experienced by people every day in your community, country, and even the whole continent. (Or the world!)

If you want to have a business which grows rapidly, and does not (necessarily) need huge amounts of capital, go back and look at some problems, and the solutions used for those problems. Ask yourself how you could redesign them using the “shared economy” model.

If the truth be told, everything in Africa is shared. We just have to find smart ways to digitize and monetize!

If we don’t do it, then others will come in, study our solutions, and take them home to create Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and others… And we have no right to blame them. It was there for the taking whilst we were sleeping or crying!

To be continued. . .


by 9 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

9 thoughts on “#SolutionMindset: The “shared economy” business model (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    As an entrepreneur, when I see inefficiency in how something is done by someone else, I see opportunity for myself and our business. If every young entrepreneur in Africa begins to think this way, then everything will be disrupted by amazing new businesses that can actually go global.

    Do some research and tell me about some other “shared economy” businesses already up and running in your own countries, or anywhere really, to help inspire each other. (But if you have your own idea and it’s not yet a business, remember… shhh!)

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    A few years ago, the European Commission asked the consulting firm PWC to study the sharing “collaborative” economy in countries throughout the European Union. Some of you may find it interesting reading.

    What might we find if we commission a study of our own for the African continent, say in the year 2020?

    You can find the download link to the report at the bottom of PWC’s summary.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    The other day a friend of mine who is a smart philanthropist from India said to me:

    “Every month more than 1m young Indians turn 18 years old, and enter the job market. Most of them will never find a job the way we understand jobs today. We can only tackle this problem using a revolution in entrepreneurship.”

    The reality is that Africa faces the same challenges. Our population is virtually the same as India’s, and we probably have quite similar demographics of young people. It was this more than anything else which made me start writing to encourage young people in Africa to begin an entrepreneurial revolution. If I had my way, every school leaver would be taught how to set up a business, write a business plan, and manage both people and cash flow.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.

    One co-founder of Lyft, Logan Green, was able to “see” in the chaos of an African transport system, a highly entrepreneurial solution that could even be adopted in the most advanced economy in the world. He was a “fast follower” to something he saw in Africa, but he also RE-IMAGINED it for use in his own country’s problems. Now according to a recent article, he’s busy imagining some new ideas (including of course Lyft self-driving cars):

    “For example, a shared commuting vehicle could feature WiFi, spots for laptops, and a quiet atmosphere. A weekend-getaway vehicle may have a leather couch and a place to store drinks. Another car with a large TV screen could prompt a rider to watch their favorite show…”

    Wow! What do you see?!


  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    This Post should open your eyes to “see” any asset that is being under utilized, even though it may not belong to you!
    Let me give you an example:

    #Commuter Transport in African cities!
    They are used for only a few hours a day!
    What ideas can you come up with to use up this idle capacity?

    #What else do you now “see” that is idle capacity, or under utilized?


    This is the “SharedEconomy” Business Model.

    Draw up a list and match it with your skills. Now you are in business!

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Akeyewale writes,

    Last year, I created a company called Quarter Cars. We help busy working class and business class, who have spare cash, to pool money together and we use the money to get a car and put on either Uber or Taxify.

    I was inspired with this idea after reading about Net Jets, a jet-sharing company later acquired by Warren Buffet.

    At Quarter Cars, each shareowners exclusively own a percentage proportional of their input, and earns monthly accordingly (between 5% to 10% of their capital). Whatever is left after paying the shareowners goes for the administration fees and maintenance of the car.

    We now have 5 cars on our platform. And from all indications, we should be adding 5 more before the end of July.

    My reply,

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Esther writes,

    PUKENA is a Shared Capital Business in Nigeria. Newly founded, less than a year.
    PUKENA, It’s a platform that recruit and train artisans, who are sent to solve problems in homes and offices.
    Through PUKENA, you can get carpenters, plumbers, mason, etc. They help in training and recruiting drivers for Uber and Taxify. It’s currently running in Lagos, Nigeria. I believe will soon expand to every part of the country and beyond.

    My reply,
    These guys will not find difficulty finding investors!
    This is hot!

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    SaintClement writes,

    Sir your efforts are yielding results
    However if you don’t turn these into books that will stand history and time
    I think you won’t be fare with we the youths Weldon

    My reply,
    Believe me I know exactly what I’m doing.
    I’m a strong believer in “substance over form”. If I had written a book, very few people would read it, and I would miss my target audience. For physical book to reach 1m readers is exceptional. I manage to reach over 10m people a week on this platform [according to data that you don’t see, that I get from Facebook].
    Did you know for instance that 70% people under the age of 30 [majority in Africa] who can read and have access to the Internet do not get their news from a newspaper or Tv, but on platforms like Facebook!
    We must write books, yes; but this is the best way to share ideas in an interact way, provided I’m willing to put in the time.
    “History and time” or “legacy” is not my objective here. I need to engage entrepreneurs and policy makers [NOW] to tackle the problems of unemployment through entrepreneurship!
    If I succeed others will write the history books.

    To get the best out of this platform, read what I write with a pen and paper. Study it carefully. Read the comments of your peers with a pen and paper. Study carefully.
    Then follow my motto:
    “I’m on it!”
    Here we learn from each other, in order “ToDo”!


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