Now Reading
“Africanicity” as a Competitive Advantage for Business Success (I)

“Africanicity” as a Competitive Advantage for Business Success (I)

  • João Gomes • Partner @BlueBiz

This article comes from the various Business Bootcamps¹ aimed at ‘Business Model Design’ that I have been running in Ghana, Botswana and Mozambique².

I’ve noticed that in these countries – and in the various groups I’ve worked with in the Ideation, Start-up and Scale-up phases – these entrepreneurs don’t use Africanicity as a competitive differentiator.

In this article, I challenge my readers to answer the following question: how can Africanness be a competitive differentiator for business success?

Let’s look at the topic of Africanness in turn:

Africanicity, what is it and what is it for? How can Africanicity generate a competitive edge in the phases of:

  • Value Creation (a);
  • Delivering Value;
  • And Value capture.


(a) Given the length of this topic, I will divide it into parts: in this article I will only deal with the ‘Value Creation’ phase.

A. African-friendliness (AF), what is it and what is it for?

In my opinion, a company will adopt the concept and practices of AF whenever:

  • It is equipped with fusion processes in its modern management practices,
  • Traditional social, cultural and spiritual elements, [which are closely associated with the imaginary, customs and practices of the African continent.

Serving AF so that companies can:

  • Create and deliver Value to specific (i.e. niche) customer segments.
  • Capture value for their shareholders and stakeholders.
  • Generate impact (i.e. align with the SDG3³ – Sustainable Development Goals).
  • And to enable these companies to differentiate themselves from their most direct competitors.

How can Africanicity be a competitive differentiator for business success?

B. How can Africanicity generate a competitive edge?

To make it easier to understand, I propose using a very intuitive and practical structure, the Business Model Canvas (BMC+)⁴:

Let’s see how PA can be linked to the Value Creation phase, enriching not only the respective business model, but also contributing positively to society and adhering to the SDGs.

Given the sensory and spiritual nature of PA, we will try to use an approach through the five senses: touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight. We will use the figure of the totem⁵ to summarise each building block of the BMC+.

  1. Africanicity in the Value Creation phase

a. Customer segment

This block of the BMC+ answers the question: How can we divide our target audience into distinct groups with similar characteristics in order to better meet their needs and create targeted marketing strategies?

Ways of generating value through PA based on:

  • On touch: making products that embody African warmth and community spirit, such as textiles with traditional patterns.
  • Taste: offering food that captures the diverse tastes of the country (e.g. sadza in Zimbabwe, biltong in South Africa), connecting people to the land.
  • In hearing: using traditional music, stories in marketing and the local language (e.g. the Zulu greeting ‘Sawubona’6 used on South Africa Airlines aeroplanes), reminding customers of their roots and shared heritage.
  • In sight: using vibrant colours and patterns in brands that are instantly recognisable as African (e.g. LAM’s cabin crew uniforms).
  • In smell: fusing products with aromas that evoke memories of the African landscape, such as rain on savannah grass.
  • And also in spirituality: incorporating spiritual meaning into products, such as symbols that convey blessings or protection to the user.

Totem: the Black Sable, symbolising resilience and beauty in diversity, reflecting a business that meets a wide range of customer needs with grace.

We need to know the channels through which companies reach their customers

b. Value Proposition

This block of the BMC+ answers the question: What value can I, the customer, get from your product or service that I can’t get from your competitors?

Ways of generating value through PA based on:

  • In touch: products that bring comfort and connection, such as crafts that support local artisans.
  • Taste: food that not only nourishes, but also tells a story of heritage and tradition.
  • In hearing: services that include local languages and dialects, making each customer feel heard and valued.
  • Sight: visual storytelling that captures the essence of local landscapes and narratives.
  • In smell: products with natural aromas that soothe or invigorate, taking advantage of Africa’s rich botanical resources.
  • And also in spirituality: solutions that resonate with customers’ spiritual beliefs, offering more than just a product, but a spiritual connection.

Totem: the Elephant, representing strength and wisdom, emphasising a value proposition that is powerful and insightful.

c. Customer Relationship

This block of the BMC+ answers the question: how can we build and maintain solid, lasting relationships with our customers, ensuring that their needs are met and that they remain satisfied with our products or services?

Ways of generating value through PA based on:

  • Touch: personalised services that make customers feel physically connected to the brand, even in digital spaces.
  • Taste: experiences that fulfil the desire for authenticity and genuine connection.
  • Listening: active listening to customer feedback, using traditional African storytelling as a means of communication.
  • In vision: transparency in business practices, allowing customers to see the impact of their patronage.
  • In smell: creating brand experiences that are as comforting and inviting as the smell of African home cooking.
  • And also in spirituality: fostering relationships that go beyond transactions to spiritual and community connections.

Totem: the Lion, a symbol of leadership and community, encouraging strong and respectful relationships with customers.

d. Channels

See Also

This block of the BMC+ answers the question: through which channels or means does the company intend to reach and communicate with its customers to deliver its value proposition?

Ways of generating value through PA based on:

  • On touch: interactive platforms where customers can virtually ‘touch’ and explore products.
  • Taste: product ‘tasting’ marketing, using local vernacular and references.
  • Hearing: channels that transmit the vibrant sounds of Africa, from music to local languages.
  • Sight: visual media rich in African aesthetics, showing the diversity of the continent.
  • In smell: images and descriptions that evoke the rich aromas of the African market.
  • And also in spirituality: channels that respect and incorporate African spiritual practices and beliefs.

Totem: the Fish Eagle, emblematic of vision and the ability to navigate diverse environments, reflecting a business that reaches its customers through multiple, well-selected channels

This article will continue, and is only interrupted here due to the limits of editorial space.

I look forward to seeing you in the next edition.

¹ Business Bootcamp: a training model that is i) very intensive, ii) condensed in time, iii) eminently focused on practical activities to detect business opportunities and solve problems, iv) which are carried out mainly in teams, v) and results-orientated.

² As part of the Global MBA for Impact and Entrepreneurship programme promoted by the E4Impact Foundation (Catholic University of Milan).

³ SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals):

⁴ BMC+ Business Model Canvas: concept and tool developed by OSTERWALDER, Alexander and PIGNEUR, Ives ‘Business Model Generation – A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers’ ISBN: 978-0470-87641-1. In addition, the Positive IMPACT and Negative IMPACT dimensions were incorporated into the original BMC, so that they aligned with the SDGs.

⁵ Totem: In Africa, the concept of a totem is an important part of the continent’s cultural heritage. A totem is a symbol or emblem that represents a family, clan or tribe. It is usually an animal, plant or natural object considered sacred by the group and serves as a reminder of their ancestry and traditions.

⁶ Sawubona: In Zulu, this greeting means ‘I see you’ or ‘we see you’. It’s a warm way of welcoming someone and expressing that the person is important and valued. Welcome!


Scroll To Top

We have detected that you are using AdBlock Plus or other adblocking software which is causing you to not be able to view 360 Mozambique in its entirety.

Please add to your adblocker’s whitelist or disable it by refreshing afterwards so you can view the site.