Airbnb made people long to experience a holiday destination like a local without the R80 price tag for nuts from the mini-bar.

Apple changed how we feel about buying a whole album including the songs we did not care about.

Amazon’s Kindle made us think of airport bookstores as reference libraries where we browse but don’t buy.

The approach for African innovators [or any continent for that matter] should be to come with innovations that disrupts the lives of ordinary Africans for the better.

Think global, act local.

When Tami Ngalo from started Oyi Social Wellness, it was because 80% of South Africans cannot afford medical insurance, only 20% of South Africans have medical aid. Oyi is a medical credit card where the card holder contributes as little at R35 per month and is able to access funds for quality medical services.

It’s like what we in South Africa call stokvel [group savings scheme], but for medical services.

When Dr. Nthabiseng Legoete started Quali Health, it was because majority of South Africa could not access affordable quality health care. Nthabiseng’s Quali Health clinics are located in poor communities, no long queues and she charges half the market rates.

Luvuyo’s Silulo Ulutho Technologies internet cafes are located in townships and charging lower rates.

Capitec Bank is disruptive because it was not shy to set-up branches in townships, charge lower rates than the market and open for longer hours than normal traditional banks.

Shoprite USave is disruptive because it is operating in townships and rural villages and chargers lower rates than other retail stores.

Mpesa, Nigeria’s Nollywood industry, and other similar innovations are called disruptive because they are accessible to the people who really needs them and are offered at lower rates, making them affordable.

There is no point having an innovation that you say is disruptive but people you target have to travel long distances to access it.

All these solutions, from AirBnb, Uber, Netflix, to Oyi Social Wellness, Quali Health, Silulo, Capitec, MPESA are disruptive because they are affordable and accessible to the people who really need them.

These innovations are about simple solutions, low margins and most importantly high volumes.

It is not disruptive because it is fancy, it is disruptive because it is simple and is built around the lives of millions of ordinary people.

The secret of disruptive innovations and business models is not that they disrupt ‘the industry’, it is that they disrupt people.

They change how people feel about something enough to change how they behave.

It is entirely possible to look into the future and think about how your customer might be changed tomorrow as a result of what you do today.

While ‘the industry’ works on the assumption that the larvae of today will just be bigger caterpillars tomorrow, the disruptor imagines butterflies.

In Africa we need more disruptive innovations in:

  • Education – to provide quality and affordable education to the millions in townships and rural villages
  • Housing – to provide quality and affordable houses to the so-called missing middle [those who cannot quality for a housing bond because they earn less than the threshold and who cannot quality for social housing [RDP] because they earn above the minimum threshold.
  • Food security
  • Energy
  • Crowdsourcing and funding for startup and informal traders in the continent.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s