Africa as a continent has been witnessing a dawn of a technology revolution. The rapid change is soon going to affect the entire region as a whole – lives, jobs, economy, relationships, industries and even politics. According to the world leaders, the continent is seeing “a transformation unlike anything humankind has experienced before”.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution and how it is going to affect Africa, was the hot topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Unlike the Third Industrial revolution, when information technology and electronics transformed lives in Africa, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is said to be something that would be a paradigm shift. People in Africa would see the barriers between man and machine dissolve. Africa has been undergoing a digital revolution for the last 15 years and is gradually achieving the standards of the most advanced nations; the Fourth Revolution would dramatically propel this digital growth in the entire continent.
The big question: What does this technology-driven revolution mean for Africa?
Typical and routine blue and white-collar jobs will start becoming automated, which would mean that creativity, IT, agile management and foundational skills will win over traditional know-how. Employers will rely less on traditional knowledge, prioritizing innovation and adaptability instead. High-skilled jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and IT will also increase.
What does the government need to do about it?
Collaborate and Innovate: As the governments in Africa continue to aim for rapid economic growth, create good governance systems, technology and business innovation in local economies and the creation of jobs, most governing bodies will continue to encounter many challenges in the delivery of services to citizens, to business, or in relation to intra-governmental operations. The ability of these governments to adapt and drive digital transformation across all segments of society will determine their competitiveness and credibility.
The key is to democratize information and break tradition.
This would mean changing the mindset of the average African citizen. Making them understand the importance of this change and helping them develop better skills. Moreover, as Africa works to shift from a labour-based economy to a knowledge economy, investments in 21st-century education and skills development is no longer an option but a necessity.
Also, governments across Africa need to replace traditional approaches to delivering citizen-centric services with innovative solutions powered by technologies. Things like cloud computing, big data and analytics need to be readily adapted to make governance more effective and meaningful. As the continent continues to invest in digital transformation, civil servants need to be trained on how to optimize these innovations and technology change.
Last but not the least, Africa is seeing a new generation of leadership, that believe in collaboration, openness, the circulation of knowledge, research and the power of information technology, and these leader are confidently pushing the continent further.
We should never forget: If Africa can embrace a world of disruption and change, it will endure. It will also deliver on its promise to be the next “growth engine” of the world and the optimism has seen them embrace technology, and use it as a force for good.
Poland is a country with a strong cultural and economic background that has benefited with the post-communist economic liberalization. The political freedom seen in past few years has let the country in becoming the 22nd largest globally by GDP. With much of Europe still struggling to recuperate from the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, Poland stands out as a territory of economic success, a place where companies and individuals plan for growth rather than decline. The reasons are simple: a large internal economy, a business-friendly political class, and the dynamic potential of a developing country catching up with its global competitors.
The secrets of Poland’s sustainability and resilience trace back to the post communist era, when its leaders pulled the country through a set of painful but ultimately effective reforms. In the 80s and the 90s Polish consumers had limited choice when it came to buying products. Mostly everything was developed by public sector organizations driven by stringent political reforms. These organizations had 30-year business plans which were based on political principles rather than market research or analysis. So the consumers had limited choices of products that did not met their demands or tastes.
Since the collapse of communism in 1989, Polish economy has grown rapidly. On 1 May 2004, Poland joined the European Union and thus became a member of the vast European single market where goods, services, capital and labor move as freely as within one country. Another point to note is that during the recent global economic downturn Poland has been the only country in Europe to show growth in GDP.
Economic restructuring, capital inflows, trade liberalization, privatization, and the gradual adaptation of legal and administrative standards to market oriented practices have improved economic structures dramatically. The Polish government has also streamlined the process for transferring property, made paying taxes easier, reduced the time required to enforce contracts, and strengthened the business liquidation process.
Also, a recent KPMG report shows that the Poles’ budget for spending is going up. For example: Poles spend 18% of their income on luxury goods, and aspirational Poles spend 13% on luxury goods. The total spend in Poland in 2012 on luxury goods was 36.8bn zloty (around £7.2bn), up by over 10% since 2011. This figure is expected to keep rising, hitting 46.4bn zloty by 2015.
Recent reforms in areas such as financial markets, company and competition law, accounting, and intellectual property rights have improved the environment for private business and boosted economic growth.
So for new businesses there is great news, as the country offers a range of business and industry options. Research suggests that Poland is ranked among the top 20 most attractive markets globally for retail brands. The fast developing tastes and stable economy mean that if retail is your business, Poland is a great country to target. Also, due to the modernization of healthcare in Poland, the pharmaceutical industry is likely to keep growing, making it a key focus for UKTI and UK exporters. So the Polish pharmaceutical market is another good bet. Finally, considering that the breadth of products needed is so diverse, the potential for selling and exporting there is huge.
In the age of globalization it is becoming important every day to describe the rational of your organization and its objective. Defining a clear cut business model is the first step towards drafting a business strategy. The global marketplace is changing and so it’s essential for us to analyze our business models and change it according to the market trend.
Rapid technological changes, a dynamic marketplace, challenging customers, increasing global competition, and pressure from investors are just a few factors that govern the current world economy. Global financial markets and an open trading system require organizations to deliver and serve their clients more quickly in efficiency, profitability, cost effective pricing, quality, and innovation.
The key is not just to focus on saving costs but to deliver standardize and end-to-end services to your clients. Adding value is the second most important factors for business growth and sustainability. Positioning a global business model means development of a globally unified environment, optimizing skills globally to create an assortment of business and skills to better strive, and better serve the growing needs of customers worldwide.
Flexibility in workforce is the third most important measure that needs to be considered. Being able to position the best talent and most suitable resources wherever they are required, is the key. Ongoing economic instability means businesses must abide growing and contracting faster than before, organically and through mergers and acquisitions. Hence a multi-functional shared service provides much-needed flexibility to be able sustain in the current global market place.
Last but not the least technological innovation is by far the most essential part of a global business model. Businesses that envision a global presence should never stop innovating and offering value through technology. Digitization is just one of the few examples of global innovation.
Most importantly, expect the unexpected and adapt flexibility!
According to a new survey, small businesses in the United States are expecting a more proactive and practical approach from the government. They are looking for measures that could help them grown and become more secure.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Small business owners sent the U.S. government a clear message: Only 11 % said they would appreciate the government lending them a helping hand– instead, they said they would like it to take action on a variety of issues ranging from energy to immigration to taxes.
• Taxes: Close to 79 % of small business owners said they support tax reform and 52 % said they would like that tax code to be less complex, so that new business owners could comprehend taxes policies and planning methods and use it more effectively.
• Immigration: One of the most critical and hot topics of discuss! 66 % of small business owners said they believe that immigration reform will “help strengthen the U.S. economy and increase America’s global competitiveness by bringing in new tax revenue and establishing a market based employment system.”
• Energy: 80 % of small business said they do not think the government is doing enough to “keep gas prices low, increase domestic energy sources, or develop an energy policy that supports American jobs.” In fact, 77 % see high energy prices as the “biggest threat” to their business. Which in turn is directly associated with manpower planning and transportation and freight costs.
• Health Care: 71 % of small business owners said the health care law makes it harder for them to hire more employees. Due to the employer mandate, 32 % of small business owners said they plan to reduce hiring and 31 % plan to cut back hours to reduce their number of full time employees.
A railway worker’s son, Amancio Ortega started as an assistant in a shirt store. A true story of rags-to-rich: Ortega left school when he was 12 to work as a shirt-maker’s delivery boy, to help support his poor family. He learnt quickly and worked his way up. He worked hard and learnt the basics of business overtime and eventually found success along with his first wife when they co-founded ZARA. Despite Ortega’s private nature, some details about his life have recently been emerged. He wears the same thing to work every day and dines in the company cafeteria.
He has guarded his privacy so carefully that the company has only released one photograph of him, when the company listed in 2001. With a net worth of $57.5 billion, Ortega rarely gives interviews to the press. In a country with sky-high unemployment, Spain’s richest man is a rare self-made mogul amid a corporate culture dominated by family dynasties. It is said that Amancio Ortega is a workaholic and likes to do his work himself and doesn’t take vacations.
This year, Amancio Ortegais is the biggest winner on the Forbes Billionaires list, jumping two spots to become the 3rd-richest man in the world, with a net worth of $57 billion. His net worth rose more than any billionaire on the list: $19.5 billion, helping push his net worth to record heights.
A true inspiration to all business owners, Amancio Ortega is a self made man, who has worked against all odds to reach the pinnacle of success. He is considered to be europe’s richest man owning 59 percent of Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara chain. Through his closely held investment companies, Ortega also owns office and retail property in major cities throughout Europe and the U.S.
Starting and registering a new business is never easy. As a business owner you should have an open mind while analyzing all options, plan long term and always have the flexibility to incorporate in countries that more openly embrace capitalism and new business development.
The World Bank Doing business report shows changing trends in the global business environment for over 170 different economies. Between the year 2010 and 2012, over 53 world economies made it easier to start a business.
In the year 2013, these top 5 countries will provide the greatest ease of doing business:
# 1 Singapore
GDP: $240 billion
GDP per capita: $46,241
Consistently ranks highly in terms of one of the best countries in the world to own and operate a business. The country modernized its system by taking all business creation procedures online, requiring detailed disclosure for investors, taking all tax management and payments online, creating a single window for trade across borders.
# 2 Denmark
GDP: $333 billion
GDP per capita: $59,684
The only economy in the world where it costs nothing to start a business, although entrepreneurs do have to show that they have some money in the bank before they can set up shop. Its key advantage compared to other more developed economies in the current global economy is the very strong position of its government fiscal finances.
# 3 New Zealand
GDP: $162 billion
GDP per capita: $39,300
It only takes 24 hours to set up a business in New Zealand, the speediest start-up time in the world. Borrowers and lenders in New Zealand enjoy relatively strong legal rights, while investors have some of the strongest legal protections in the world.
# 4 Hong Kong
GDP: $244 billion
GDP per capita: $34,457
The country has a reputation as operating one of the most open and free-market economies in the world. The country has made several reforms, including putting business creation procedures online, creating a one-stop shop for construction permits, requiring disclosure for investors and paying taxes.
# 5 United States
GDP: $15.1 trillion
GDP per capita: $48,442
Even with its current struggles, the U.S. remains one of the preferred places in the world to open and run a business. The country has relatively low cost and short application process to start a business, speedy importing and exporting processes, and strong investor protections.
Christopher Paul Gardner is an American entrepreneur, investor, stockbroker, motivational speaker, author, and philanthropist who, during the early 1980s, struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son, Christopher, Jr.
Gardner’s personal struggle of establishing himself as a stockbroker while managing fatherhood and homelessness is portrayed in the 2006 motion picture The Pursuit of Happyness, directed by Gabriele Muccino, starring Will Smith. The unusual spelling of the film’s title comes from a sign Gardner saw when he was homeless. In the film, “happiness” is misspelled (as “happyness”) outside the daycare facility Gardner’s son attends.
After Gardner separation from his wife, he ended up homeless and often scrambled to place his child in daycare, stood in soup lines and slept wherever he and his son could find safety—in his office after hours, at flophouses, at parks and even in a locked bathroom at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station.
His BIG break:
Gardner worked to become a top trainee at Dean Witter Reynolds. He arrived at the office early and stayed late each day, persistently making calls to prospective clients with his goal being 200 calls/day. His perseverance paid off when, in 1982, Gardner passed his licensing exam on the first try and became a full employee of the firm.
In 1987, Chris Gardner established the brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, in Chicago, Illinois, an institutional brokerage firm specializing in the execution of debt, equity and derivative products transactions for some of the nation’s largest institutions, public pension plans and unions.
His new company was started in his small Presidential Towers apartment, with start-up capital of $10,000 and a single piece of furniture: a wooden desk that doubled as the family dinner table.
Gardner reportedly owns 75 percent of his stock brokerage firm with the rest owned by a hedge fund. He chose the name “Gardner Rich” for the company because he considers Marc Rich, the commodities trader pardoned by former president Bill Clinton in 2001, “one of the most successful futures traders in the world.”