Shared value speaks to a business philosophy that looks for opportunities to solve social problems. The goal of inclusive growth, on the other hand, is for everyone to benefit from the growth of opportunities available in an economy. Both are linked to companies realising that uplifting the poor, drawing more people into the economy and creating a more equitable world are good for business.

Fostering inclusive economies holds the promise of a structural reset, particularly important for African countries so long plagued by poverty and inequality. But sharing the riches of the continent with its people has, in the past, been derailed by the politics of greed, something which shifted in 2017 with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos relinquishing power, and Cyril Ramaphosa taking over as President of South Africa. This, says Lwazi Bam, CEO of Deloitte Africa, has created “a new sense of hope”.

“So how do we ensure that we capitalise on that?” Bam asked at the Africa in 2018 Outlook Conference, held at Deloitte in Johannesburg in 2018. “Income inequality is one of our biggest Achilles’ heels in Africa. If we don’t address that, we will always be on shaky ground.  The responsibility rests with us as businesses and professionals.”

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This sentiment was echoed during the course of the day by the likes of Raghu Malhotra, MasterCard’s President for the Middle East and Africa, Sola David-Borha, CE: Africa Regions at Standard Bank, Hardy Pemhiwa, Group CEO of Econet South Africa, and Dr Martyn Davies, MD: Emerging Markets & Africa at Deloitte Africa.

The tone of the annual gathering was more sober than in previous years, with less about the potential opportunities for Africa and more of a realisation that growth must touch the man in the street.

“Inclusive growth needs to kick in within the real economy, where people are,” noted Davies, pointing out that while countries like Ghana, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania are recording great growth  gures, the average citizen’s quality of life is largely unchanged.

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Malhotra delivered an impassioned argument in favour of inclusive growth, calling it a “US$7 trillion opportunity”. “Business will not succeed in a failing world,” he said, adding that the way to break this cycle is by challenging today’s norms through open discussions, engaging with governments about enabling policies, harnessing technology and working to broaden the partnership model.

The importance of partnerships was drummed home during a compelling panel discussion featuring Pemhiwa and David-Borha. While Pemhiwa spoke about the need for African businesses to transform themselves into “viable partners for multi-nationals”, David-Borha stressed that Africa’s future lies in public-private partnerships (PPPs). “As difficult as PPPs are, they really are the future for Africa,” she said, noting that African governments don’t have the capacity to transform on their own and highlighting how driving an inclusive agenda starts with multi-pronged (another buzzword) partnerships.

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