Someone taught me many years ago "If you want to make a billion rand, solve a billion rand problem". It's excellent advice. Find a really big problem - one with teeth - and solve it, and you will be very successful.
I recently met with Minh Cuong Le Quan from Paris when he was in Cape Town as part of the Unreasonable at Sea team. His company began by identifying a big problem - a quarter of the world's population still cook their food on open wood fires, often inside shacks. The large amount of wood smoke produced is now known to cause major respiratory problems for young children in the shack, especially as they are often on their mother's back as she works over the fire. Minh's company Prakti has used technology to design an inexpensive stove that produces virtually no smoke - and uses a quarter of the wood usually required by burning it more efficiently. Their stoves now cook meals for 250,000 people every day.
What are the biggest problems facing us in South Africa? The National Planning Commission, headed by Trevor Manuel, has been addressing just this question, and have produced an excellent video (above) that will give you a superb overview of all the areas where there are great opportunities for entrepreneurs to solve big problems. You can also watch Planning for Thandi's Future which covers the same issues from the perspective of one person, and read the detailed 450 page report to drill down into these areas. (And watch me lecturing on this at Stellenbosch University)
Let's look at just one area - water. We're all familiar with electrical outages. Water is the next electricity, especially in the north of our country. Gauteng's economy will continue to grow and grow, using more water, the population will grow, more crops will be needed - but not a single drop of extra water will be available until August 2020 when the final phase of the Highlands Water Project comes online. Want to see some of the many problems in the water space? Go to the IOL news site, type "water" into the search bar, and read all the stories that come up. Solve any of the many problems in this space, and you will do very well (and help our country!). Want to learn more? Read my blog Diary of A Change Agent for some ways to learn about this field. Or go and explore any of the other fields covered by the NPC report.
Bottom line: don't invent things that people don't really need. Solve real problems, and prosper while doing good...
Congratulations to the graduates of my latest Idea Workshop, held this week at the Barn in Cape Town! I'm looking forward to seeing how you change the world!