Updated: Apr 13, 2021
By Christopher Odongo, CEO WYLDE International
One of my clients, Stephen from Milimani, told me a few months ago about an observation he had made concerning Kenyan software developers and programmers. He noted that many Kenyan software developers tend to be ‘I work alone’ kind of developers who would rather develop a whole new platform by themselves than work as part of a team. He pointed out that this could be because of Kenya’s system of education that emphasized individual performance and academics while downplaying collaboration and extracurricular activities. Thinking about it later, I realized that collaboration may not necessarily be an obvious or natural choice for any of us. We are wired to want to win and beat our rivals in the market and yes being number one in the market means that you have the lion's share of the revenue from that market. So, I did a little digging and found some interesting ideas about collaboration and competition.
First, collaboration is indeed very much alive and in vogue. In Kenya, I found collaboration between Vodafone, Safaricom, and a local Microfinance Bank gave birth to the idea of M-Pesa; collaboration between stockbrokers in 1954 led to the formation of the Nairobi Stock Exchange; General Motors and Toyota did a collabo to assemble motor vehicles jointly and Isuzu East Africa had been until recently jointly owned by both Toyota and GM, and of course, we have many of our musicians doing collabos like it’s Christmas. These kinds of collaboration have been coined competitive collaboration or as I saw on Forbes, coopetition.
Writing about coopetition, Forbes quotes Ritala’s report on ScienceDirect that analyses the Amazon Marketplace as a business model that showcases the best of coopetition. The article reports that vendors using the Amazon Marketplace can reach more consumers. Amazon reports that more than 50% of their sales are for third parties underscoring the importance of coopetition. In my research, I found out that Jumia operates on the model of coopetition. They have more than 41,500 merchants participating in their Black Friday sales event with 4.8Million packages delivered during the 2020 Black Friday. Jumia provides the platform and order delivery system while the vendors provide the products and offer the discounts needed to make the Black Friday event a success.
Secondly, I found that collaboration has many benefits. One quote I read from seismic.com said “Competition makes us faster. Collaboration makes us better”. I thought it was sublime. In the seismic.com blog, Dan Burtan says that collaboration encourages us to work with each other instead of against each other, leverage best practices, and in turn increase efficiency. When we collaborate, we learn from each other’s successes and failures and thus can grow.
An organization is able to focus on its core strength and outsource the other components it needs to succeed and thus builds efficiency in the whole value proposition. Collaboration allows the pooling of financial resources to develop and deploy new products. It also allows companies to piggyback on other company’s distribution networks, reducing the time it takes to go to market.
This is our version of Coopetition
WYLDE has contributed to the development of the entrepreneurship ecosystem through collaboration and partnerships. We have always welcomed conversations with other ecosystem players and entrepreneurship support organizations that work in the same space as we. In our history, we have openly shared our knowledge, insights and supported the work of many enablers including leading hubs like iHub, Nailab, Creatives Garage, leading accelerators like Growth Africa, TBN, YUNUS Social Business, Traction Camp. We continue to work with banks, insurance companies, financial institutions, associations, and non-profit organizations. In our Boost with Facebook program, we have collaborated with 150+ organizations enabling us to train 8000 entrepreneurs in 2 years. Our collaboration with the UK-Techhub saw us write a start-up guide for Kenya and this book has been downloaded and read by 800+ entrepreneurs. We know the benefit of collaboration first-hand, and we will continue to pursue partnerships that power entrepreneurs to win. At the SNDBX, WYLDE collaborates with 25 other business experts to deliver a first of its kind in the world; a one-stop-shop for SMEs looking for business development services.
This is our version of Coopetition