The business of shared economies

Presenting a united front between different stakeholders within Africa’s MICE industry and collaborating to share innovations and resources could take the continent to new levels of success. This was one of the topics covered at Meetings Africa 2018 during a panel discussion with industry leaders to discuss what shared economies mean to them, and the benefits they’ve seen derived from these on a business front.

The panel, led by Rashid Toefy, deputy dg of Economic Development for the Western Cape, consisted of Senthil Gopinath, regional director, Middle East of ICCA; Byron Moorgas from Always Innovative Solutions; and Raymond Ledwaba, ceo of IT Thynk Smart. Three main areas of interest were highlighted – synergies, tools, and spaces.

When considering synergies, Gopinath noted that a shared economy was incredibly prevalent, and essential, in the meetings industry. Within Africa, countries need to support each other, and highlight one another’s skills to showcase the best the continent has to offer, in order for everyone to benefit. “It makes the industry stronger and longer lasting,” he said. “Knowledge sharing develops day by day, and the economic impact becomes stronger.”

In terms of the sharing of tools, skills, data, and technology jump to the fore. Ledwaba feels that skills sharing is still an underdeveloped area. He highlighted the position newly degreed young adults find themselves in when applying for jobs. Companies all want someone with experience, but no one is willing to give first exposure. He is looking to partner unemployed youth with universities and give them that step up to gain valuable exposure and experience to make them more employable.

Moorgas shared some insights into the difficulty of data sharing. His company works closely with TomTom, mining data to provide navigation details to help travellers optimise their travel. He notes that countries often consider data to be their own personal IP, and are therefore reserved when it comes to sharing such information.

Technology is another essential element in shared economies. Improved connectivity helps bring people closer together and, in the eventing space, technologies like event apps help match-make delegates and businesses to build relationships that will extend past the event.

Spaces are essential in a shared economy. Toefy notes that non-traditional meeting spaces, from warehouses to parking lots, are becoming more prevalent and popular. There is much emphasis on hosting meetings and conventions within local townships, and Ledwaba himself is hosting an event in Philippi, in the Western Cape.

The Gauteng Tourism Association is advocating the use of township venues throughout Gauteng, and Toefy urges industry to keep up with these trends. Ledwaba adds that universities can act as property businesses by letting out lecture halls and auditoriums as meeting spaces.

There is no single solution for business to succeed, but all panellists agreed that a shared economy goes a long way to aid the longevity of a business. “Adaptation is central to success,” said Toefy.

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