Category Archives: Assumption filter

Disrupting Predictions: How Stereotypes Distort Expectations

This chart embodies some stereotypical thinking regarding the high growth opportunities now available in low income and lower middle income countries. Its from the just released World Development Report 2019’s concept note on the theme “The Changing Nature of Work”. Where the cognitive dissonance lies is in the accompanying text which highlights the transformational capacity […]

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Connectivity, Communication, and Commerce: The 3 Cs of Africa’s Smartphone Led Future

Recent headlines touted the decline in marketshare being seen by smartphones on the African continent, and the concurrent increase in sales of basic devices. Yet a closer look shows that this shift might only be numerical due to the opening of new markets in heavily populated DR Congo and Ethiopia – first time buyers are […]

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Lessons for development from the demand driven investment strategies of the informal sector

This shopkeeper in Laare, Kenya provided me with deep insight on how investments in expensive inventory are managed in a heavily cash based economy. He runs a consumer electronics store stocking everything from solar panels, music systems, spare parts and batteries, through to mobile phones and accessories. His purchasing decisions are based on visible consumer […]

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Why the African Consumer Market is NOT the same as the African Middle Class

The biggest challenge faced by consumer facing companies looking at the African Consumer Market is the age old positioning of the “middle class” as the ideal target audience. This middle class is segmented by the same attributes as the original middle classes who formed the consumer markets of the developed world. This is the outside […]

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Formalization is no panacea for micro-entrepreneurs, a liminal space is necessary for growth

Yesterday, my bank sent back a client’s payment though I’d presented the invoice and other paperwork. I’m a registered micro-business in the highly formal economy of Finland, and the bank I’ve been with since 2009 has upped their internal regulations after a spate of bad publicity surrounding the Panama papers. I’ve been caught in the […]

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East African Imports in rural Rwanda?

This highway ‘storefront’ in rural Rwanda made me wonder if the trader had imported his goods rather than purchased them locally. And, further, if they were imports from Kenya. First, unlike the majority of such roadside shops, he is dealing with multiple products – while all are related to home decor, they are made of […]

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Trading economics: a new theoretical system

From the Financial Times, a snippet from a guest post by Wang Zhenying, director-general of the research and statistics department at the PBoC’s Shanghai head office and vice chairman of the Shanghai Financial Studies Association, summarising the arguments in his new Chinese-language textbook on economics. “Trading economics” is one new theory emerging against this backdrop. […]

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A Unique Path to Development Seen for the Informal Economy

Just recently I stumbled over this slim book < 60 pages that analyzed existing data sources in order to frame an answer to the research question they posed: How did the informal economy―markets and the private sector―develop in the absence of legal and administrative frameworks to support it? Some of the most intriguing insights extracted […]

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TEDTalk video: Recognizing the value creation and economic contribution of the informal economy

My talk given at the TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, this August, went live on Ted.com at some point during the night a couple of days ago. At that very moment, I was on a Finnair flight from SIN to HEL, so with a wee bit of delay, here’s the link to the video of the […]

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Voices from the Pacific: Mirroring the Challenges of Informal Market Women Everywhere

ABOUT 80 per cent of all market vendors in the Pacific are women, and these earnings make up a significant portion of incomes of many poor households. In spite of their contribution to the local economy and to markets, women are often excluded from market governance and decision-making. ~ The Fiji Times Following up from […]

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