The leaders of today’s businesses frequently struggle with the inherent tensions that exist between maximizing returns for shareholders and developing a company with long-term viability.
How can a business communication to the world that it genuinely cares about more than simply making money in a society that craves meaning and purpose? How can leaders accomplish this while simultaneously satisfying the seemingly competing demands of their shareholder base and their clientele? In my opinion, the culture of an organization is the glue that can bring together the requirements of a variety of distinct but critically important stakeholders.
It is believed that acclaimed writer and thinker Peter Drucker said, “culture consumes strategy for breakfast.” When starting a new company, this gives a great deal of weight to the importance of developing its culture, personality, and core values. However, why?
A strong organizational culture can be a differentiator in the marketplace; it can also serve as the adhesive that brings the members of your organization closer together and helps them concentrate on a clear and consistent mission.
Culture is Collaborative
In our opinion, the culture of a company extends far beyond the atmosphere that it creates on the company’s premises for its staff members. The community and the customers are also very significant. When a company decides to expand into other jurisdictions, this reality becomes very apparent.
Culture is frequently cited as one of the most significant barriers that prevent businesses from expanding their operations into Africa. This is because it frequently dictates how these businesses examine the market, how they divide it up, and how they calculate its size of it. It is also the strategy that the brand uses to reach the market.
How these companies investigate and analyze information to assist with decision-making is influenced by culture. In addition to this, it has an impact on how brands collaborate with local teams and develop customer relationships in sub-Saharan Africa.
Let’s face it: the value, complexity, and depth of information possessed by a company are directly correlated to the effectiveness of its decisions.
According to what we’ve learned from working with international companies in Africa, the degree of success a brand achieves is directly proportionate to the pace and connection of local market implementation achieved by the company’s executives and partners. Here is where culture becomes a significant factor in the game.
The Urbanized and Relatively New Economies of Africa
The population of Africa is young, highly educated, and moving to cities at a rapid rate. According to Statista, there are currently close to 600 million people living in urban areas. It is anticipated that this number will continue to increase year after year.
Having spent the better part of two decades working in the market for fast-moving consumer goods, we’ve had the opportunity to observe how multinational corporations that offer superior goods and services reach their respective markets.
Uncomfortably, some brands that have a limited understanding of this enormous continent (and who do not have a culture that is particularly well established) confronted the subject matter with a mindset of trying to save it. Or they may simply maintain a superiority complex in which they believe they know everything there is to know about the market and the people who make up the market. They do not.
When we say “savior,” we’re referring to the perceived notion that there’s a significant demand for a brand’s goods and services and that the market would undoubtedly suffer if it did not have them. The assumption that there isn’t any local knowledge and experience that is capable of producing excellent work gives rise to superiority. These attitudes are formed as a direct result of a company’s core values as well as the personality of the organization.
The reality that a company offers a fantastic service or product does not on its guarantee that people will not exist or find a way to get by without having access to said product or service. The better argument would be that the company’s goal ought to be to use its goods and services in such a way as to make people’s lives better in a manner that is both environmentally and socially responsible.
Employ Locals, and You Will See Rewards
It should come as no surprise that a business that demonstrates a genuine understanding of the communities in which it operates and works to strengthen those communities will enjoy a longer runway and a significantly higher rate of long-term profitability.
It is time for businesses that were established outside of Africa to acknowledge the fact that they can find excellent talent that is adequate in Africa. Provide the chance for local groups to work in and contribute to the growth of your company, as well as generous compensation for the results they produce.
They are the talent with the understanding that is applicable and poignant, local perspectives, and a profound understanding of the subtleties that can either make or break your company. Local teams that are engaged with their respective markets and clients will achieve the market performance that the company desires. Local talent possesses the intercultural competence and the native knowledge that is essential to maneuver and empathize with the consumers in a way that a foreign team might not be able to muster up for years at least.
Research conducted on a global scale has the potential to paint a pessimistic picture of the potential market by depicting it as being hindered in various ways, such as by corruption, insecurity, and a lack of skills.
As a consequence of this, some businesses decide to take action based on this biased and unbalanced information. As a result, they earn a poor public image for paying local skilled employees salaries that are incomprehensibly low when compared to those paid to the so-called “international experts.”
Invest in the Brilliant Minds of Africa
Global brands have been known to engage in questionable business practices, including causing environmental harm and selling products that do not meet acceptable quality standards. However, there is a limit to how long they can continue like this. Even though it is evident that this isn’t the way to expand a global company sustainably, these practices continue.
This path is not taken by astute local business leaders. There is no shortage of intelligent executives in Africa who are genuine, skillful, and ready for action and establish a work culture that encourages the growth of fantastic, long-lasting businesses. The challenge for multinational corporations is to locate them, then employ them.