Can the African diaspora serve as a pipeline for technology and management to support high growth entrepreneurs and fill a portion of the continent’s talent gap?
Entrepreneurs throughout Africa are facing remarkable challenges as they build and grow innovative startups. As startups scale, they need to have specific skills and expertise on their teams to tackle specific issues, but with limited hiring options in ultra-competitive markets, startups face a “talent gap” between the skills they need to hire and the skills they are able to access.
In order for entrepreneurship ecosystems across the continent to keep thriving, solving this talent gap is crucial. 75% of funded, early-stage companies in emerging markets say their inability to access the talent they need will have a high or critical impact on their growth . Whereas all other challenges — such as fundraising, logistics, regulations — get more manageable for entrepreneurs as their startups mature, hiring talent is the only challenge that gets increasingly difficult.
Solving the talent gap will require both long-term and short term solutions. Long-term solutions will systematically solve the reasons why this talent gap exist, such as improving education, increasing skills development programs, and developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. But long-term solutions take time, and today’s entrepreneurs need solutions now.
That’s where short-term solutions like RippleWorks come in. We help rapidly growing social ventures solve their most critical scaling challenge, with most of our portfolio supporting African startups. By connecting leading technology and management expertise from the US tech sector with high-growth ventures on the continent for short-term, high-impact projects, we are unlocking African startups’ capacity for growth and playing our part to fill the talent gap.
In two years, we have worked on 35 projects, 21 of which are in Africa. We have worked with startups like Andela to create a data science strategy, Off Grid Electric to scale its customer support, and M-KOPA to strengthen its data security. The projects average 19 expert recommendations, and 99% are adopted by the venture. The reality is that entrepreneurial expertise is not evenly distributed around the world… yet.
Our end game is for top entrepreneurial talent to exist everywhere, and solving this talent challenge will be the key to Africa’s continued entrepreneurial success.
About the Author
Doug Galen is the CEO and Co-Founder of RippleWorks Foundation, which connects leading expertise from Silicon Valley and the larger tech sector with high-growth social ventures around the world. Previously, he served as Chief Revenue Officer at Shopkick, a mobile app startup that was bought by SK Telecom, and SVP of Business and Corporate Development at Shutterfly, where he helped grow revenue from $50 million to $500 million.