NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – As much as half of the country’s population could consist of digital natives – the generation born and brought up in the digital age – in just a couple of years, “given the right prerequisites,” a social business report suggests.
The report, which defines a social business as, "a business whose primary intent is to create [positive] impact and that uses revenue streams to became financially sustainable in order to create more impact," however points out a number of grey areas which need to be addressed, should social business achieve maximum results.
According to the Ericsson Social Business Report released in December 2016, with the highest concentration of undersea fiber optics in the region, Kenya has risen to became one of the most connected countries in Africa, with 30 million internet users (2015).
The doubling of bandwidth between 2014-2015 is said to have acted as a major catalyst to increased internet penetration, which could receive yet another boast should plans to put in place the fifth fiber optic cable through the Indian Ocean materialize.
In 2015 for instance, mobile penetration in the country was estimated to be 88 per cent accounting for 38 million subscribers.
This uptake has paved the way for social businesses to thrive, since hindrances such as corruption have significantly reduced as a result of digitization of data and business processes.
For instance, Maji Milele – a social business that aims to provide affordable clean water in Soweto – has improved transparency and improved revenue collection by automating its systems.
“Maji Milele distributes prepaid water meters to public water points and for domestic connections, and uses a digitized revenue collection to improve maintenance, quality and transparency,” notes the report.
The report, which defines a social business as, “a business whose primary intent is to create [positive] impact and that uses revenue streams to became financially sustainable in order to create more impact,” however points out a number of grey areas which need to be addressed, should social business achieve maximum results.
The challenges include; striking a balance between the social agenda and the business agenda, finding financial stability, recruitment of the right capital, getting the right investments, measuring the social impact, gaining credibility, expanding nationality and inter-nationality and enhancing internet connectivity.
With the intriguing nature of online-based business solutions, concerted efforts need to be channelled towards ensuring that the masses across social media platform can buy goods and services without compromising on quality or risk losing their hard-earned monies.
The cost of accessing the internet also comes in handy since this is the enabler when it comes to social businesses.
The Ericsson report identifies affordability of ICT among key determinants of the success of a social business, others being the ability to connect with the targeted community in terms of proving the right services and scalability (the ability of the business spread its wings to other geographical areas as well).
“ICT creates more transparent and empowering environments so that new ideas and initiatives can grow,” part of the report read.
Social businesses are set to enjoy a sustained growth trajectory due to the mission-driven nature as opposed to profit driven nature of traditional businesses. This emerging trend as an enlightened network of society comprised of social media became, “increasingly aware of the ethics behind brands and choose brands based on ethical values that resonate with them.”
This will not come unchallenged, “the well-oiled, mass production machinery of consumer goods, where low price is the most important factor, will continue to be tempting for many people,” the report cautions.