How high growth, disruptive Enterprises rise out of real problems

September 22, 2020

Ever since Professor Bitange Ndemo left public service, he has devoted the bulk of his time to research and thought leadership. For this reason, he is a highly sought after speaker and commentator all across the globe on all matters technology, entrepreneurship and more. One of his passion points is studying disruptors and the future of different sectors. Why? In his own words, “If you see a problem, don’t complain, figure out how to fix it. That’s how new enterprises are born”.

He cites the example of the banking sector. The banking sector has been plagued with high interest rates and restrictive policies for years. “People are suffering. SMEs are not accessing loans, Government is only giving money through Banks, which treat everyone with suspicion. As a result, a lot of people have been excluded from access to finance for a long time”, says Prof.

This is the problem that inspired the rise of Fintech. Right now, Banks are protected by Regulator, but eventually, Prof. Ndemo believes the Fintech disruption will come full circle for as long as the problem of financial exclusion exists.

It started with mobile money in 2007. Banks made a lot of noise, and ran to the regulator. This however did not stop the rise of Mobile Money platforms like M-PESA. By 2019, nearly half of Kenya’s GDP was moving through Mobile Money. Then came mobile lending. Banks had learned their lessons from Mobile money so instead of fighting it, they decided to join the fray. When COVID-19 struck in 2020, the regulator decided to say you can’t rely on credit reference bureau data for lending, which has been the sole recourse for pure fintechs which lend without collateral. This has slowed down fintech, but Professor Ndemo believes it’s only temporary. The wave of fintech and disruption of the banking sector will continue.

“Most of the money lent by fintechs is between 3am and 6am. These are men and women who go to the market early in the morning to buy supplies, and pay back by end of day. Fuliza gave Kshs 8 Billion in one month. That’s how much a middle level bank gives in a whole year. That’s disruption” he concludes.

He continues, “Retail has been disrupted. The companies you see today will not be in existence in 5 years. They will either die, or get bought out. It takes vision to see a disruptor coming, and doing something to manage the disruption, like how Facebook bought whatsapp because they could see the disruption coming”. Most of our leaders can’t see that far, but that’s where the opportunity for new and disruptive enterprises lies.

Solve a real problem, and you will build an Enterprise that grows 10-fold, 100-fold, even 1000-fold.

Prof. Bitange Ndemo was a guest at Un.thinkable roast (our monthly 10X Growth Leaders Meet-up) in July 2020. Click here to apply for membership in Un.thinkable.

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