Launching consumer brands in sub-Saharan Africa

"GDP is not the best way to determine whether or not to go into an African country", the founder of a successful Nigerian company with operations across the continent told me. This wisdom also applies to launching a consumer brand in Africa.  Nielsen's recent report "Africa: How to navigate the retail distribution labyrinth" confirms this.…

Six Ways Collaborative Marketing Creates new Value

The rise of social media and online reviews may have turned yesteryear’s business-to-consumer marketing monologue on its head. But what has emerged in its place is an enriching conversation that can help you drive growth -- only now with the consumer as co-pilot pointing the way to new opportunity.

Redistribution is not Enough

Ricardo Hausmann recently wrote a piece titled “Redistribution or inclusion?” for Project Syndicate. It provides a different view of the causes of inequality of income, looking particularly at developing countries. It points out that modern production requires many complementary inputs, many of which are present in advanced economies, but lacking in emerging economies. Some years ago a friend told…

The Answer for Terrorism

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres was interviewed by Tom Friedman in Davos and said that terror is "destroying the arab countries" and is a much bigger threat to them than Israel. He also offered his dream of a future without the terrorists...

Women Leaders are Movie Stars!

Patricia Arquette said it best, 'It's our time to have wage equality. Women all over the world face this same problem. According to the last report of the International Labour Organization, it remains clear: the pay gap is huge. Women in leadership are movie stars who work hard, shine brightly and contribute enormously to the overall success of the production—yet they make substantially less than their male counterparts...

A Young Population, a Youthful Mentality

"Africa is young, Europe is old". That was one of the first conclusions I reached after a few weeks in Lagos.  I wasn't thinking just in terms of the age of the population, more in terms of the spirit and outlook I saw there. Africans are bursting with youth and energy which is why I…

The Role of the Media

The media plays an important role in shaping our understanding of the environment and climate change. For the Editor of the Guardian, the story has not yet been successfully told and for others, too much is said already.

Africa Meets Poverty Reduction Targets

During my stay in Lagos, I met a woman who asked me what my impressions were. I told her I found it hard to look at the poverty there, which surprised her, "Where do you see poverty?" she asked, pointing out the many signs of development there. As a matter of fact, poverty and wealth coexist…

Why Environmental Sustainability is Hard for Business

There are six essential differences that exist between the world view of the men and women who actually run most business see the the world and the way activists, journalists, and legislators see environmental sustainability and unless there is increased mutual understanding it will be difficult to make progress Specifically, I feel of these different groups.

Women's leadership: reaching the top

“Looking at the world through women’s eyes”. This was the theme of the associations at the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995, which the UN has revived on its 20th anniversary to discuss the day after the celebration of this year's International Women's Day (March 8). Being encouraged by IESE,…

What does it mean for a country to default?

The case of Greece has put the subject of sovereign default back in the news. What does it mean when a country is in default? What are the implications? Many people have asked me about this, so I think a little clarification is in order: . Argentina's government may default even though many Argentine companies…

African Women – a Force for Peace

"Queens of Africa" is a line of black dolls inspired by the three largest tribes in Nigeria. They wear the wonderful traditional dresses of the three queens. And I love the song in the promotional video portraying the three queens—one of them is the Queen of Peace. , and obviously but most importantly, lack of…

Tapping into Online Reviews’ Potential

Does your business take online reviews seriously? , especially those that are less than praise. Typical knee-jerk reactions often include: Burry your head (the ostrich approach) and hope that the negative reviews’ fallout will just blow-over. Confront bad review (in social networks, etc.) or attempt to deal with all of them in the same way. Thank positive reviewers.…

How do the Chinese and Africans mingle?

Chinese investments in Africa have been gaining pace since the turn of the century.  And Chinese people have immigrated onto the continent along with their investments. That much we knew. What I didn't know is that Africans are also migrating to China, according to articles in The Africa Report. One of them, called "People are…

Entrepreneurial Attitude Across Countries

A fun part of being a professor is talking to entrepreneurs and learning from them. A few weeks ago, I was talking with a European CEO who had just moved his company to California. He has a pretty amazing business model, which is quickly evolving as they learn about the landscape of the industry. But in…

Four Pillars of Experiential Marketing (II)

In a previous post I introduced a four-pillar framework to help marketers build excellent experiential marketing campaigns. Remember that brands use experiential marketing to personally interact with consumers. It’s different to conventional marketing because they use an unforgettable live event to draw the interest of consumers and raise and spread awareness of the brand by word…

Top Companies in Africa

A good number of managers of sub-Saharan companies have told me that when it comes to their efforts to internationalize, South Africa is off their radar screen. These countries see industries in South Africa as already quite developed and think it would be pointless to try to compete in that market. With this in mind a quick…

Greece: a quick summary

The recent victory of the leftist party Syriza and the defiant attitude of its Government towards its lenders (EU, BCI and IMF, the so called troika) has thrust Greece into the headlines once again. Here we look at the numbers (from Eurostat, 2013), the problems and the negotiation alternatives of both sides – the Greek…

Greece: Citizens and Debt

Syriza's victory was received as a victory for Europe's generous and compassionate South, versus the stingy and vengeful North. We have no way of knowing if the South would have behaved better than the North if it had found itself in the role of creditor, nor are we entirely certain that the "slap in the…

Mindfulness on the Rise with Backing from Business

“Mindfulness” has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, often in the form of shallow New Age recipe for feeling good. But it’s worth re-visiting here because science and research are now backing up the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of the practice; benefits which are so extensive as to seem far-fetched. Once…

Women Executives: Are we after quotas or business?

This past November, the lack of consensus in the European Council resulted in the rejection of the European directive that would have made it imperative to have 40% women in the non-executive boards of publicly traded companies. Commissioner Viviane Reding had spent over two years advocating this measure, which had already been approved by the…

Trading Times Across East African Borders

My young friend Giovanni came back from a visit to East Africa last week. As part of the trip, he traveled by car from Uganda to Kenya. This involves crossing the Malaba border where trucks can wait anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. But the driver was an expert at crossing this border, so they only…

We don't understand the Greeks

Everyone is uneasy about the electoral victory of Syriza in Greece and the threat of populism in Europe. The media has been buzzing for days now with comments and analysis, largely talking about what Syriza should do, what should be done by the European Union, Germany, the International Monetary Fund... the consequences of the policies…

African Investments in Africa

Great news! . This is according to a perspective paper by Ralf Krüger and Ilan Strauss published by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investments. So it looks like African development is finally beginning to come from within the continent. Over 400 Africa-to-Africa projects (which I like to call intra-African development projects) were carried out between January 2003 and January…

Risk-Free Rate: An Irrational Financial Practice

A key concept at the heart of financial theory is the “risk-free rate.” The idea is simple: the rate at which you would lend money to a very secure borrower, one with 0% probability of default. If you lend money to a riskier borrower (one with some probability of default) you would charge a “risk…

Draghi Deploys the ECB’s Full Artillery? A Reaction

The best commentary came from the Spanish daily Expansión. They gave us nine pages on Draghi’s measures and a headline from a statement made by Francisco González, president of BBVA: “” (note - I added the "all" to that statement). Draghi was already talking, a few months ago, of measures that needed to be taken in…

The strength of Nigeria is its people

I once heard a Nigerian saying proudly that the strength of Nigeria is its people. That statement stuck in my mind: in fact, its 170 million (or so) people makes Nigeria the most populous African country – but what did he mean exactly? A number of things come to mind: the most immediate and obvious,…

Swiss Franc: It ain't gonna happen

This colloquial phrase is used when something is considered impossible. That seems to be the case with the Swiss franc, which saw a major appreciation when the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced it was floating its currency. It is an excellent example for one type of exchange rate. For obvious reasons, Switzerland is a major…

A new era of indigenous entrepreneurship

I came across a short article by Ronald Coase (1991 Nobel laureate in economics) published at the Harvard Business Review a few months before he died, aged 103, in 2013. The article is a delicious call for economists to re-engage with the (real life) economy. I want to focus on just one sentence in the…

Job creation: an engaging business purpose

In my interviews with managers from sub-Saharan African countries, I was surprised that – without my bringing up the topic – a large majority of them made a comment of this sort: "You know, what drives this company is job creation… Of course, we want to make money, and we do make money, but what…

The Sharing Economy: An Ocean of Unconscious Cooperation

The sharing economy is a topic of hot debate. It means different things to different people. For investors, firms like Uber and Airbnb offer tantalizing market capitalizations. For visionaries, the peer-to-peer transaction model represents a new, post-capitalist economic reality. Meanwhile, critics see the rise of these services as just another brick in the winner-takes-all wall. Whatever…

Changing for the better

This evening we'll welcome a New Year. There are many local traditions related to New Year's Eve. The custom in Hillbrow, South Africa used to be throwing furniture out of the window. This became really dangerous – you might even see a fridge flying out – and many people got hurt, so this custom has…

A great Christmas gift in Ghana

Last year, the only two expatriates of the Ghanaian affiliate of a service company  were wondering what to offer their employees as a Christmas gift. With very good sense, they thought the best would be for the employees to decide themselves. The only condition was that it would be the same for everybody, so they…

Who contributes to the growth of the US Economy?

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis provides interesting data on the contribution of 93 different industries (and groups of industries) to the GDP. In a previous post I analyzed the contribution of the oil industry to US GDP growth. Now I present the big picture: the contribution of every industry to the GDP and GDP…

Increasing urbanization and smart cities

Urbanization is on the up. The prospect is that by 2050, 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities – for Africa, the prediction is 50 percent. The challenge is for cities to offer improved living conditions to their citizens. To this end, the concept of "smart cities" is being developed. In essence,…
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