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Lockdown: Why we are training African Talents for the future of work

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Nicolas Goldstein is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Talenteum.Africa. A seasoned business man with extensive experience in technology, outsourcing, and marketing services. Nicolas’s exceptional knowledge of strategic marketing including product positioning, brand plan development, growth hacking and launch excellence within B2B sectors positioned him as a leader in the space. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, he shares how Talenteum is training African talents for the future of work and why Remote working is here for good. Excerpts.

Alaba: How do you see Remote Working in Africa during this global crisis ?

Nicolas: Unfortunately, it takes a pandemic for remote work to become a trend. Corporations all over the world are setting up the logistics for their teams to work remotely. In a global economy under the siege of the Coronarivus (COVID-19) – with more than 200,000 cases worldwide – those who still have doubts about the potential of remote work should reconsider now.

Working remotely is proving increasingly useful today and is steadily earning its place in the Future of Work. We at Talenteum have been working remotely since inception and all companies needs to know how to work with Distributed team.

Alaba: Do you think Remote Work is here to stay?

Nicolas: It is our belief at TALENTEUM, even before the Covid19 crisis erupted that remote working is a device with multiple virtues:

– Economic: telework allows you to extend the spectrum of the job market beyond your regions, and even beyond the borders where your companies are established;

– Social Impact: telework allows talents from foreign countries to access a job, even though their countries of origin do not offer them in their specialties; allowing remote work means allowing people to no longer have to immigrate elsewhere in order to be able to work and live decently. It is also participating in the reestablishment of parity between men and women by allowing women who could not get away from their homes to have a job, done from home;

– Environmental: when we know that transport is responsible for 10% of the global emission of greenhouse gases, we understand that by reducing travel, teleworking has a certain positive environmental impact on the planet;

– Sanitary: the Covid19 crisis has demonstrated this, remote working contributes to limiting the spad of epidemics.

Alaba: What about training Africa to the Future of work ? this is one of your goal.

Nicolas: In this digital era, economies evolve more rapidly and in response, companies and their staff need to adjust quicker. We have observed that regular upskilling is now a must. We have understood that it’s a reality for Africans as well; particularly those who want to work for employers based outside Africa remotely. Despite coming from developing countries – with a more limited range of local training opportunities – than in Europe or North America, African talents have to be proactive in finding ways to increase their competencies.

They need to stand out amongst international competition in order to be hired or get better jobs and earn higher wages. The candidates having skills sets that closely match employers’ needs will be more successful than others. That means keeping an up-to-date knowledge in one’s field, improving or adding to one’s abilities or acquiring the adequate skills in response to a shortage in a particular niche.

Thus, it is a competitive advantage to make upskilling efforts. One becomes more employable. Amongst our talents at Talenteum, we have some very ambitious young Africans who, in addition to their qualifications and professional experience, have taken online courses for specific skills and secured better work as a result.

Also Read: How Tech Is Enhancing Recruitment: An Interview With Sandy Simagwali, Co-Founder Of Graft Africa

Alaba: Which sectors will experience more upcoming Skills Shortage and how prepared are African talents?

Nicolas: According to Linkedin Talent Blog, “within the next 12 years, demand for highly skilled workers is going to skyrocket especially across knowledge-intensive industries”. This source indicates that globally, there will be a shortage of 10.7 million workers in the sectors of financial and business services and 4.3 million in the technology, media and telecommunications industries respectively.

African talents need to get ready to be part of the answer to the major talent shortages in the world by 2030. The implementation of “an ecosystem for quality jobs” and “future skills to match” is crucial for “fully leveraging the continent’s demographic dividend”, as “15 to 20 million increasingly well-educated young people are expected to join the African workforce every year for the next three decades” (World Economic Forum in 2017 report “The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa”).

Nevertheless, “skills mismatch” is one of the factors impeding young Africans in responding to the current and future industry needs (African Development Bank). The unequal access to tertiary education , particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) may be one of the causes. The World Bank in a 2017 study “Sharing Higher Education’s Promise beyond the Few in Sub-Saharan Africa”, asserts that “increasing demand and limited supply of tertiary education … has led to tertiary education being available only to a subset of the youth population”.

According to the World Bank, “[t]o date, tertiary education in SSA region has remained elitist, benefiting students mostly from the most affluent, well-connected families. Coupled with the “brain drain” phenomena that talented tertiary graduates leave SSA regions after they finish education, tertiary education in the region is not equitably producing the human capital that the countries direly need”.

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aYo Holdings, African micro-insurer breaks 10 million mark; eyes further growth

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aYo Holdings CEO Marius Botha (Source: aYo)

African micro-insurance fintech aYo Holdings, a joint venture between telecommunications giant MTN and financial services group Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH), has broken through the 10 million customer mark in under four years after starting operations – and new CEO Marius Botha says the milestone is set to trigger a period of further growth.

aYo launched in Uganda in January 2017, and has since started operations in Ghana and Zambia with plans to expand into Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria in the new year. aYo provides fast, convenient, easy to use hospital and life cover directly to a user’s mobile phone, and has already paid in excess of $1 million in claims.

This rapid expansion has seen the company evolve into a major player in the African micro-insurance market, effectively by adopting a ‘pay as you go’ insurance model, where its policyholders have the flexibility that allows them to have the cover they need at any given time.

Botha says while there has always been a ‘definite demand’ from African consumers, the challenge was being able to find the right technology and mechanism to deliver what is essentially a high-volume, low-margin product, where not all clients are paying or active at any given time, but buy cover as and when they need it.

“The partnership with MTN has really been the key that unlocked the ability to deliver this product. As a result, millions of Africans have access to and are engaging with life insurance for the first time – and we cannot underestimate what this means to them in terms of driving financial inclusion,” said Botha.

While mobile networks provide the ideal delivery mechanism for the spread of micro-insurance across the continent, Botha says the company’s growth has also depended on understanding the nuances of each market, and creating products that cater for the specific needs of the target market.

“The big thing about micro-insurance is that it protects those who need it the most. People with low income need insurance even more than those with higher incomes, because they are more vulnerable and have a smaller cushion of resources to draw upon in times of need,” said Botha.

Many clients use the payouts from their aYo policies to not only pay for their hospital bills, but use the balance to buy food or schoolbooks, so they can send their children back to school. One client’s glasses were damaged in an accident, leaving him incapacitated and unable to work, as he is legally blind. His cover paid his hospital bill and allowed him to buy new glasses, which allowed him to continue providing for his family.

“There’s no doubt that the impact of micro-insurance is transformative, as it shields millions of Africans from the economic shocks that would otherwise keep them locked into an endless cycle of poverty,” said Botha.

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Thabo Mashegoane Appointed As Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA)

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Thabo Mashegoane

The President and Board Chairperson of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), Thabo Mashegoane, has been elected as Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA).

Formerly the Vice-Chairman of AfICTA, he succeeds Engr. Hossam Elgamal from Egypt to become the third Chairman. AfICTA, a private sector-led alliance of ICT Associations, multinational corporations, companies, organisations and individuals in the ICT sector in Africa, aims to fulfil the promise of the digital age for everyone in Africa by encouraging dialogue and fostering ICT enabled development.

During an electronic election at the AfICTA Annual General Meeting on 25 November, Mashegoane was elected chair, while IITPSA Past President and Non-Executive Director Ulandi Exner was also elected AfICTA Vice-Chair for Southern Africa.

The election named the following board members and officers: Paul Rowney, Deputy Chair; Opeyemi Onifade, Treasurer; Dr. Waudo Siganga, Vice-Chair for East Africa; Engr. Assem Wahby, Vice-Chair, North Africa; Adetola Sogbesan, Vice-Chair, West Africa; and Eric Sindeu, Vice-Chair, Central Africa.  

Thanking his predecessors for their service and leadership in the Alliance to date, Mashegoane noted that AfICTA was an organisation with a vast network, impact on critical policies, and reputation that took years and hard work to build. “Mine is to take the baton and continue where the honourable Engr. Hossam Elgamal has taken this organisation to. Of importance is the platform to enable African countries to collaborate and share best practices and lessons learnt with an objective of not leaving anyone behind in development. This is a vision we will continue to uphold. We stand in a critical position to influence attainment of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 through ICT.”

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Speaking after the election, Mashegoane said digital inclusion and ICT-enabled development was also a key mission for the IITPSA in South Africa.  “The IITPSA shares the vision and ethos of AfICTA. IITPSA has also stated that we need to step up efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, among other things, seeks to bridge the digital divide and harness technology to address major global challenges such as poverty, climate change and conflict, we need to work harder. At IITPSA, we believe this means we have to collaborate across industries, across countries, to deploy the benefits of ICTs for the good of all,” he said.

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Baller Syndicate: Building Europe’s First Elite Athlete Angel Syndicate And Exploring Africa

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Baller Syndate Founders – Koen Bosma (r) and Jason Esseboom (l) (Source: Baller Syndicate)

Baller Syndicate is an exclusive network of elite athletes that are looking to get into tech investing. An initiative by Koen Bosma and Jason Esseboom, two former athletes who were better at startups than playing football. They played together in a youth academy, and Koen even turned pro. The founders crossed paths again in the world of startups and innovation. Koen and Jason share a passion for sports, entrepreneurship, and investments. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, they talked about how they are positioning elite athletes to become successful tech investors, through their educational like-minded community and building bridges between Europe and Africa.

Over the past few years, they have worked with hundreds of startups and invested in 20+. Most of those startups are trying to break into the sports-, health-, and entertainment industry. During this time, Koen and Jason had the privilege of working closely with founders, which gave them great insights and a first-row seat to startups’ biggest pain point.

Startups in the sports-, health, and entertainment industries have a disproportionate mismatch with angels that can truly accelerate their journey, compared to startups in other industries.

When Koen and Jason looked closely, they spotted a trend in the USA of elite athletes making tech investments cool and accessible to the world. Athletes like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Serena Williams are building their own family offices, venture funds, becoming LP’s or making direct or syndicated angel investments. So they asked themselves the question: why is this not happening in the rest of the world?

This led to starting Baller Syndicate.

Alaba: So what does Baller Syndicate do?

Koen: Our vision is to unlock athletes’ capabilities as accelerators for the growth of startups. When we started having conversations with active-, and retired athletes about their post-career activities, we truly learned a lot. Simply mentioning the term “investment” to an athlete in Europe turns all signals to red and makes their alarm bells go off! We could hear them thinking: “are these guys trying to take my money!?.

The interesting thing, however, was that when we took the conversations a layer deeper, we learned athletes get approached for investment opportunities quite regularly, but always ‘through a guy.’ When athletes don’t fully understand the concept, the default is to rely on someone they trust.”

We learned that athletes “solve” their lack of knowledge about investment opportunities by putting their trust in a person they know well.

Baller Syndicate’s goal is to decrease the knowledge gap by educating athletes with understandable content. Education is liberation, and that’s how they will help athletes change the narrative!

Alaba: Tell me, how does your education work with the tight schedules athletes have?

Jason: Overall, our education consists of two parts. We noticed that there is so much good content out there, but navigating it can be challenging or even overwhelming. Our vision towards education is to aggregate the most relevant content and translate it into a language athletes understand. We don’t see ourselves as professors but as translators.

Our first approach is to make an online course with actionable and engaging videos. This is the theoretical part. For the second part, we interview athletes that are active as investors or entrepreneurs to provide valuable case studies. Providing the theory is necessary because if we’d just share case studies, athletes miss foundational knowledge. To make learning fun and engaging, we chose to explain investments through sports analogies, using stories all athletes can relate to. Everything we offer is online, so the athletes determine when and where they want to learn.

Of course, we dream of a big live event where we connect the worlds of startups and athlete investors, but that’s not happening in a world governed by a pandemic.

In our way of working, we are lean startup evangelists at our core. This means we start with something, test it, and adjust based on the feedback. We test our educational program with a small group of selected athletes and truly learn if our translations resonate with them. After testing, we know where we need to improve to move forward and help more athletes.

Regarding the content of our education, we have three principles:

  1. We skip jargon or break it down
  2. We logically structure content, tested by elite athletes
  3. We facilitate group learning through our community

We believe this structure puts athletes at an advantage to learn how they can make independent investment decisions.”

Alaba: How do you make money?

Koen: Right now, we don’t… We invest our time and money to make Baller Syndicate into something valuable for athletes and startups. The sportstech ecosystem really needs to grow, and we believe we need to give first and hopefully get something in return later. Baller Syndicate is our way of building the sportstech ecosystem. Our educational platform will run as a foundation, where athletes pay a small fee as a yearly contribution. Secondly, we are attracting corporate sponsors that have a similar vision as ours, to pitch in a bit.

Baller Syndicate operates as a typical angel syndicate for athletes who have learned they wish to go into tech investments. In a syndicate, athletes pool money and invest together in startups they select themselves. We facilitate athletes by finding the right startups and guiding athletes throughout investing in those startups.

Our business model is based on carried interest, which means we only make a buck when their athletes make profits. But we have some strict “rules” for our members to start with tech investments.

If the athletes don’t know how to activate an investment, there is just waste. So before any tech investment through the Baller Syndicate platform, we ask these five questions below:

  1. Does the startup have something special that fits the profile of our members?
  2. Can we add value beyond money (and the obvious Twitter post)?
  3. Are multiple athletes on board?
  4. Do the interested athletes know they need to create a balanced portfolio of startups and not ‘bet’ on 1 or 2?
  5. Is there a lead investor (in case of large investment rounds)?

There are many other factors to consider, but we ask these vital questions to help elite athletes de-risk their startup investments. Our goal for 2020 is simple: to build our educational content and test it with a selected group of 10 athletes. We are currently primarily working with footballers, but there are also professional golf- and tennis players.

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Jason: Building this syndicate is as tough as it gets, but we are up for the challenge. We are motivated to the core to realize our big vision: unlocking athlete potential as accelerators for startups’ growth. We have started exploring athlete investing in Europe, and now we are eager to learn how athletes in other continents are approaching their new career after sports.

Through Baller Syndicate, we are building a diverse community of like-minded athletes. In our community, athletes are diverse in their sport, country, or background. They are alike when it comes to their ambition, mentality, and work ethic. Hopefully, this interview will open the doors for us to get in touch with African athletes and build bridges between Europe and Africa.

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