Myths about Africa


For every myth that keeps us enslaved, there is a truth that sets us free.


Human Beings living in today’s world feel a great sense of helplessness, alienation and disconnection. In “democratic” countries, capitalistic systems which flourish within societies that are not steeped in a strong  tradition of compassion give rise to multi-national entities whose only purpose is self-enrichment with no consideration for the welfare of humanity. Money has become a tool of this small class of elite to keep the balance tipped in their favor. Indeed, multi-nationals, through intense lobbying are the true hidden governments. Using their vast amounts of accumulated wealth, they have the ability to influence government policies in their favor.

By becoming the de facto source of survival for a large percentage of the working class, as well as creating a large amount of consumer products which marketing departments promote as objects we cannot live without,  multi-nationals create dependencies which make it difficult to free ourselves from them.

This myth, however, only holds power when we buy into it. When we become more aware and really look at what today’s corporate culture is offering us on a level of authentic human needs, we begin to see the mythology.  When we rediscover the sacredness found in the very midst of this same mundane life we now live, the mythology will fully reveal itself to us and this will empower us, remove the sense of helplessness and emptiness and re-energize our entire life. When we begin to see what an incredible privilege it is to simply be alive, this view will infuse our lives with meaning that the disconnected lifestyle offered by multi-national conglomerates can never fulfill.


Neccessity is the mother of invention

This myth will continue to be true as long as we continue walking down the same path. Our society is a disconnected one and it has disconnected humanity from it’s most important quality. We must  educate ourselves to rediscover the sacred within each our human lives. This is the change that all humanity is crying out for from the Arab Spring to Occupying Wall Street. Once we have, enormous reserves of inspiration and creativity will be naturally freed to do enormous good. Where once before there were problems, we will see instead opportunities Where once there stood obstacles now we see only lessons waiting to be learned.

By and large, the media has portrayed Africa as a land of many complex problems. For inventors, designers and entrepreneurs, however, problems who see from a creative and inspired view, these problems are just the shadow side of opportunities. Where there is a problem, there is an unfulfilled need; where there is a large problem, there is a proportionally larger unfulfilled need.

The solution to a stable, autonomous, sustainable and thriving Africa, like anywhere else in the world lay in the ability for the people to recognize the opportunity and develop the skills to seize this opportunity. In developing the systems, policies and infrastructure to solve these problems, Africa will take the journey to realizing her full potential.  InGienous Designs is here to help facilitate that important paradigm shift.

When we experience our environment as a problem-filled one, we feel disheartened, negative and disempowered. However, when we experience the same environment as one full of opportunities we experience hopefulness and a re-invigorated sense of purpose instead. We have a sense of being able to take the future into our hands.

The key to unlocking wealth creation for Africans is a  paradigm shift that recasts problems as opportunities to awaken the entrepreneurial spirit across the African continent.

Many African people  feel disempowered and entrapped by their circumstances which may include any of the following:

  • The legacy of colonialism
  • Living during a transitional period with conflicting values from both traditional and modern culture
  • Poverty due to upbringing in chronically disadvantaged communities with very little capacity including lack of basic health, educational, housing & energy services
  • Elements of corruption and apathy and in many countries, very high crime rates
  • Heavy disease burden and exploding youth bulge

As we enter into  projects, we are fully cognizant of the challenging entrepreneurial landscape of Africa. Our solutions and growth strategy must be extremely robust to overcome the many reasons that can lead to failure. The success of our projects is not defined by monetary metrics alone. What is most important to us is awakening and nourishing this spirit of creativity that is the birthright of every single human being.

We always begin the process in the same way, by asking What If?…… we look at the same old challenging problems but with fresh eyes.  During this early stage imagineering, we allow our imagination go wild and dare to dream of all possible solutions. The reason is simple. At this stage, we don’t know what will be practical or not so we don’t censor ourselve in any way. Once we have a set of solutions, we then begin a process of narrowing them down to ones that have a reasonable chance of success. We work on problems that are implementable and that have a large socio-economic ROI relative to investment.


Solving social problems = good business

Once a problem has been identified, then creative needs to partner with education and resources to come up with a sustainable solution. Social problems cannot really be solved if they are not done so in a sustainable manner….and that means wealth creation and social contentment for all. Africa’s current lack of capacity means that it is the last major undeveloped region in the world with some of the world’s biggest opportunities. The challenge is, given the multitude of overlapping problems, how to translate those problems into real opportunities.

McKinsey Global Institutes June 2010 report: Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies summarizes this new landscape of opportunities. Some of the main points of this report are:

Africa’s growth acceleration was widespread,

  • 27 of its 30 largest economies expanding more rapidly after 2000.
  • All sectors contributed, including resources, finance, retail, agriculture, transportation and telecommunications.
  • Natural resources directly accounted for just 24 percent of the continent’s GDP growth from 2000 through 2008.
  • Key to Africa’s growth surge were improved political and macroeconomic stability and microeconomic reforms.

Future economic growth will be supported by Africa’s increasing ties to the global economy.

  • Rising demand for commodities is driving buyers around the world to pay for Africa’s natural riches and to forge new types of partnerships with producers.
  • Africa is gaining greater access to international capital; total foreign capital flows into Africa rose from $15 billion in 2000 to a peak of $87 billion in 2007.

Africa’s economic growth is creating substantial new business opportunities that are often overlooked by global companies

  • RMGI projects that at least four groups of industries-consumer-facing industries, agriculture, resources, and infrastructure-together could generate as much as $2.6 trillion in revenue annually by 2020, or $1 trillion more than today.

Today the rate of return on foreign investment in Africa is higher than in any other developing region.

  • Early entry into African economies provides opportunities to create markets, establish brands, shape industry structure, influence customer preferences, and establish long-term relationships.
  • Business can help build the Africa of the future.

The rise of the African urban consumer also will fuel long-term growth.

  • Today, 40 percent of Africans live in urban areas, a portion close to China’s and continuing to expand.
  • The number of households with discretionary income is projected to rise by 50 percent over the next 10 years, reaching 128 million.
  • By 2030, the continents’ top 18 cities could have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion.

McKinsey Global Institute Clusters

  • To understand the growth opportunities and challenges of individual economies, McKinsey Global Institute developed a framework that groups them in four broad clusters: diversified economies, oil exporters, transition economies, and pre-transition economies.
  • Though imperfect, this framework can guide business leaders and investors developing strategies for the continent and policy makers working to sustain growth.

We believe that development should be a collaborative, win/win process from the beginning. This means identifying stakeholders and partners who share the same fundamental vision of creativity, compassion and integrity. We are flexible and taylor approaches most suited to the particuliar project. Sometimes a feasibility study or a research pilot is required to produce data that can guide the next steps. Other times it’s not. When the feasibility has been performed, we look at business planning, funding strategy and scaling up. We bring to this normal development process our own unique vision of developing human potential to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity.

Africa’s greatest resource is her people. In order for African countries to reach their full potential as healthy and self-sustainable societies will require awakening African’s to their infinite potential. To change the course of history requires only one Nelson Mandela. We must inspire Nelson Mandela’s in each country, city and town. We must then develop her people through massive re-education. Education a critical part of uplifting Africa.

Every single human being is a potential Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein. The common string running through all these great beings is the appreciation of the sacredness of life itself, which provides endless energy and motivation to do what is most beneficial for humanity.