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Balancing act between digital innovation and customer trust crucial in Africa – Harvard Business Review

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A new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services with Mastercard details the importance for businesses across Africa to balance digital innovation and customer trust. The study explores the current business landscape through the lens of an increasingly young population, filled with consumers who prioritize brands with shared values and digital experiences that make them feel safe and secure. It highlights trust as an important lever for customer loyalty, business sustainability, and innovation.

Around 60% of Africa’s population is younger than 25. Their embrace of a digital world that is purpose-driven and built on connection bodes well for businesses in a region that prioritizes innovation. However, with economic activity increasing online, security and privacy are emerging as foundational not just for trust but also for innovation.

Over 70% of businesses in Africa recognize that service reliability and availability are paramount. However, less than half (42%) realize the importance of data security and privacy to customers, especially as digital tools and experiences become ubiquitous. To safeguard the trust of consumers and earn a license to innovate in the future, businesses need to recognize that innovation requires flexibility and commitment.

Businesses are faced with the challenge of innovating to satisfy consumer demand for richer, more satisfying experiences while maintaining consumer trust. However, consumers in the region are also quicker than their global peers to punish businesses for adverse events by withdrawing their trust, which raises the stakes for businesses.

The report notes that 80% of African consumers are eager to embrace digital benefits but will not buy from businesses or brands they don’t trust. Businesses in the region understand the importance of trust for their own sustainability, with more than three-quarters saying trust improves customer loyalty and more than half saying it provides a competitive advantage.

“Africa has seen extraordinary digital transformation over the past decade, and with each new milestone in digital inclusion, Africa’s young digital natives and early adopters present companies with an opportunity to reconsider their innovation priorities in line with the elements their consumers value. Trust is essential for innovation—it is the currency that underpins it.

“When consumers can trust businesses, it gives businesses the space and security to innovate, and that innovation can unlock prosperity across Africa for all Africans,” said Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President for Market Development, Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Mastercard.

African consumers are more sensitive than their global peers to factors that damage trust in brands, and data security is a top concern. Around 60% of consumers in the region said incidents in which consumer data has been mismanaged would damage their trust.

Consumers in Africa have also underlined the importance of strong values, with 80% saying they prioritized buying from businesses that act on causes they care about, a far higher proportion than the global average of 63%. This includes the environment, supporting small businesses, women’s economic empowerment, disaster relief, and aid.

The report further explores how businesses in the region are digitizing their processes and embedding innovation while ensuring that they continue to meet their customers’ and stakeholders’ expectations for reliable, secure systems and maintain their trust, through best practices such as:

·         Build security into products and be transparent when issues arise. Customers expect secure, reliable, appropriate systems they can trust to keep their personal data safe.

·         Communicate the company’s vision and values. Consumers in Africa prioritize buying from brands that support their values.

·         Make innovation part of the company culture. A considered 360-degree approach to innovation will benefit large companies with legacy infrastructure and set processes.

·         Partner with like-minded companies to boost innovation. The report lifts out the fintech partnerships of South-African based Standard Bank, and MTN’s collaboration to make cross-border transactions a reality.


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Remedial Health Unveils New App with Digital POS to power operations for Africa’s Neighbourhood Pharmacies

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Remedial Health, a health tech startup that develops solutions to make Africa’s pharmaceutical value chain more efficient has unveiled an updated version of its customer-facing app, designed to function as an operating system for neighbourhood pharmacies and Proprietary Patent Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) across the continent.

The new app comes with a digital POS terminal to support payment collection, virtual business accounts to receive payments, an in-built barcode scanner feature for recording product sales and store-switch functionality to enable the seamless management of multiple stores, as well as inventory management solutions for restocking and easily identifying short-dated products.

The app also offers comprehensive financial reporting to manage profit and loss, and data analytics to inform decision making.

Despite accounting for 85 per cent of retail medicines sold in Africa’s pharmaceutical industry (projected to reach $70 billion market size by 2030), the absence of bespoke digital tools to manage their unique sales and inventory management needs means neighbourhood pharmacies and Proprietary patent Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) are unable to run their operations as effectively and profitably as possible.

At the same time, the reliance on paper-based inventory and sales management processes means manufacturers have limited empirical insights into customer behaviour to inform their decisions on production and distribution.

The new Remedial Health app has been designed specifically for healthcare businesses in Africa, with tailored features that have been designed to support effective decision making to drive business growth and profitability.

Starting in Nigeria, healthcare businesses can access vetted medicines, and manage their sales and inventory on one easy-to-use platform, freeing up time and capacity to effectively serve their customers and communities.

The app also enables Remedial Health to provide consolidated, real-time data on market behaviour to manufacturers for increased profitability and better decision-making across the value chain.

According to Samuel Okwuada, CEO, and co-founder of Remedial Health, “Neighbourhood pharmacies and PPMVs represent the frontline of healthcare delivery in Africa but they have historically been left to their own devices to figure out how to be efficient and profitable.

“Our mission is to empower these essential service providers with the tools they need to manage day-to-day operations and seamlessly run their practices effectively. We spent a lot of time interacting with our customers in the process of delivering this product and the feedback has been great.

“We are excited by the opportunity to get the app into the hands of pharmacies and PPMVs across the country to support their ongoing success, as well as the health and wellbeing of the nation”.

In 2023, Remedial Health sold more than 300 million individual packs of medicines to 7,500 hospitals, neighbourhood pharmacies and PPMVs across all 36 states of Nigeria.

Its customers also improved their profits by 30 per cent on average, with access to more than 8,000 vetted products at the same, or better than, open-air medicine market prices.

They can also access same-day delivery and leverage inventory financing to minimise cash-flow friction for routine orders and maximise sales opportunities.


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EnterpriseNGR Expands Financial Centres to Three African Countries

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EnterpriseNGR has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up the Africa Roundtable of Financial Centres – a chapter of the World Alliance of International Financial Centres, in Mauritius, Morocco and Rwanda.

The MoU, signed recently in Mauritius, brought together EnterpriseNGR, the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, Casablanca Finance City Authority, and Rwanda Finance Limited to foster collaboration, promote investment opportunities, and drive sustainable development within the financial centres of its member countries and Africa at large.ort the exchange of best practices between members, enhance visibility regionally

A statement from EnterpriseNGR said that it was joining forces with the three countries to specifically pursue five key objectives.

These objectives include “Jointly strengthen the competitiveness of financial centres in Africa. Collaborate through projects, research papers, communiques, and events to position the African Continent, demonstrate the myriad of investment opportunities, and showcase the role that financial centres play within the African Continent.

“Conduct joint initiatives to supp and internationally, and provide African financial centres with a unified voice regionally and internationally.

“Facilitate the development of dialogue with major financial centres outside the African Continent and build communication channels with African institutions, including regulators and policymakers, as well as African financial services industry associations, and advocate for regulatory coordination amongst members of the Africa Roundtable to promote cross-border investments and financial services.”

Commenting on this collaboration, the Chairperson of the Africa Roundtable, Mr Ken Poonoosamy, said, “The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Africa Roundtable of the WAIFC represents a pivotal stride in fostering synergy among financial hubs within the African sphere, with the shared objective of catalysing economic advancement across the continent.”

Ms Obi Ibekwe, the Chief Executive Officer of EnterpriseNGR, represented by the Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Mr Lami Adekola, expressed her excitement over the development.

She said, “It is a historic achievement, and EnterpriseNGR fully endorses the Africa Roundtable of the WAIFC and is excited for the immense opportunities it represents for Nigeria and the African continent. Our collaboration with the four African countries promises to bolster financial competitiveness on the Continent and amplify Africa’s global presence.

We will leverage this Roundtable to unlock the full potential of African financial centres to drive prosperity and development for our nations and beyond.”

EnterpriseNGR became a member of WAIFC in 2023 during the WAIFC board meeting hosted by TheCityUK in London.

The MoU, which was signed recently in Mauritius, brought together EnterpriseNGR, the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, Casablanca Finance City Authority, and Rwanda Finance Limited, to foster collaboration, promote investment opportunities, and drive sustainable development within the financial centres of its member countries.

A statement from EnterpriseNGR said that it was joining forces with the three countries to pursue five key objectives.

According to the group, these objectives include “jointly strengthen the competitiveness of financial centres in Africa. Collaborate through projects, research papers, communiques, and events to position the African continent, demonstrate the myriad of investment opportunities, and showcase the role that financial centres play within the African continent”.

It added that it would enable it to “Conduct joint initiatives to support the exchange of best practices between members, enhance visibility regionally and internationally, and to provide African financial centres with a unified voice regionally and internationally.

Facilitate the development of dialogue with major financial centres outside the African Continent and build communication channels with African institutions, including regulators and policymakers, as well as African financial services industry associations, and advocate for regulatory coordination amongst members of the Africa Roundtable to promote cross-border investments and financial services”.

Commenting on the collaboration, the Chairperson of the Africa Roundtable, Mr Ken Poonoosamy, asserted, “The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Africa Roundtable of the WAIFC represents a pivotal stride in fostering synergy among financial hubs within the African sphere, with the shared objective of catalysing economic advancement across the continent.”

Ms Obi Ibekwe, the Chief Executive Officer of EnterpriseNGR, represented by the Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Mr Lami Adekola, expressed her excitement over the development.

She stated, “It is a historic achievement, and EnterpriseNGR fully endorses the Africa Roundtable of the WAIFC and is excited for the immense opportunities it represents for Nigeria and the African continent.

“Our collaboration with the four African countries promises to bolster financial competitiveness on the Continent and amplify Africa’s global presence. We will leverage this Roundtable to unlock the full potential of African financial centres to drive prosperity and development for our nations and beyond.”


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5 Emails You Should Delete Instantly

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Amidst the daily influx of emails flooding into your inbox, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for signs of potential cyber threats. Keep a lookout for these seemingly innocent phrases that could spell trouble for your cybersecurity.

Trevor Cooke, the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, identifies five phrases you can search for in your inbox to weed out dangerous messages.

1. “Urgent Action Required”

Trevor advises, ‘This phrase often indicates an attempt to create a sense of urgency and pressure the recipient into taking immediate action without thoroughly considering the consequences.’ Cybercriminals may use this tactic to trick individuals into clicking malicious links or downloading harmful attachments.

Example: “Your account has been compromised. Urgent action required to secure your account. Click here to verify your login credentials.”

2. “Account Suspension”

Emails claiming that your account will be suspended unless immediate action is taken should raise suspicion. Cybercriminals often employ this tactic to coerce recipients into providing sensitive information or credentials under the guise of resolving a purported issue.

Example: “Your account will be suspended within 24 hours due to suspicious activity. To avoid account suspension, please confirm your account details by replying to this email.”

3. “Congratulations! You’ve Won”

Beware of emails proclaiming unexpected winnings or prizes, especially if you haven’t participated in any contests or lotteries. Trevor says, ‘Such emails often serve as bait to lure recipients into divulging personal information or clicking on malicious links.’

Example: “Congratulations! You’ve won a luxury vacation package. Click here to claim your prize by providing your personal details.”

4. “Click Here For A Special Offer”

Phrases enticing recipients to click on links for exclusive deals or offers should be approached with caution. Cybercriminals frequently use this tactic to redirect users to phishing websites designed to steal login credentials or install malware on their devices.

Example: “Don’t miss out on our limited-time offer! Click here to claim your 50% discount on all purchases.”

5. “Unusual Login Activity Detected”

‘Emails alleging suspicious or unauthorized access to your accounts aim to incite panic and prompt immediate action,’ notes Trevor. However, legitimate service providers typically communicate such notifications through their official platforms rather than through email.

Example: “We detected unusual login activity on your account. Click here to verify your identity and secure your account.”

How To Respond

Trevor recommends, ‘Upon encountering emails containing red flag phrases indicative of potential threats, the best course of action is to delete the email immediately and block the sender. Refrain from clicking on any links or downloading attachments to safeguard your personal information and maintain tight cybersecurity.’


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