Driven by entrepreneurship and innovation, Africa is now undergoing a decisive and accelerating transformation. By promoting access to ideas, knowledge and technologies, the digital revolution has served as a catalyst for innovation in Africa.
In the wake of the catalysts of intrapreneurship and open innovation
However, the movement goes beyond just technological leapfrogging, a concept regularly touted in recent years. Africa is not that continent that seeks to “catch up” through innovation. It invents its model, finding pragmatic and innovative solutions to the development and growth challenges that are specific to it, by activating different levers.
Among the levers of innovation: intrapreneurship and open innovation
Intrapreneurship and open innovation experiments are increasing in Africa, for Africa. They are not new to Nigeria, Ghana or South Africa but have recently spread to other countries, creating pan-African momentum. To identify its contours, a learning expedition was carried out.
It took us to the African continent, first of all, to discover local initiatives bringing together the worlds of established companies and entrepreneurs / innovators, or unleashing the “intrapreneurial” potential of employees, among which:
- A Moroccan start-up catalyzing the open innovation of large groups via hackathons;
- A Senegalese telecom group supporting an intrapreneur employee in the emergence of his start-up in the health sector;
- An Egyptian crowdsolving platform allowing African companies to find African answers to the industrial challenges they encounter;
- A start-up from Kigali propelling e-Rwanda through the development of its platform;
- An HR start-up and a South African bank co-constructing an innovative offer for small and medium-sized businesses.
At a time when some are erecting walls, others are building bridges between the world and Africa, to get the best out of both sides and leverage the continent’s potential for innovation. The learning expedition thus extended beyond African borders to illustrate:
- The way in which start-ups from the African diaspora ally with a large group, from its Paris headquarters, to extend the adventure in its African subsidiaries;
- The growing interest in Africa from international start-ups, especially in fintechs;
- The provision of African developers, by a multinational telecoms company, of its technology via a pan-African platform, in a logic of open innovation.
5 key success factors for these open innovation and intrapreneurship initiatives have emerged:
- Obtain strategic buy-in from management teams;
- Engage operational teams by driving cultural change;
- Be agile in structured approaches;
- Manage time, short and long, in open innovation initiatives combining start-ups and large groups;
- Adopt an open mindset.
In addition to promoting these initiatives and innovation in Africa, the ambition is to make people want:
- To companies, in Africa and the world, to innovate in Africa and towards Africa;
- For employees to “intraprendre”;
- It is up to entrepreneurs to collaborate with established companies.
To CEOs, our contacts advise to:
- Give themselves the means to constantly reinvent their business;
- Become familiar with the many case studies in African entrepreneurial ecosystems;
- Trust these ecosystems;
- See innovation as a commitment, not an end in itself;
- Focus attention on the growth of entrepreneurs.
For intrapreneurs, we recommend:
- Build alliances within their organization;
- Go out and network with professionals from various environments;
- Get their idea off the ground with the lean start-up methodology;
- Do not fall in love with an idea, but with a solution to a problem;
- Adopt the “Fly one minute, hack the next” mentality.
Faced with the threat of uberization, the companies that will survive will be those that will know how to “disrupt themselves”, by being able to internalize the best of the world of start-ups and by turning their internal employees into innovators who, within ” open cross-functional teams, will create new offers, new products / services, business units or start-ups