South Africa’s tech ecosystem is full of amazing human potential that is rarely celebrated and tapped into. At our latest event in The Future of Work series, Matsi Modise from SiMODiSA, Devina Maharaj from Investec and Malan Joubert from OfferZen discussed strengthening our ecosystem through connection and why international emigration of our talent is a great sign for the industry. Here are some of the main thoughts and some awesome snapshots of the evening.
‘Brain drain’ can actually be good for an ecosystem
The idea that highly-skilled software professionals leave South Africa and take their skills abroad scares a lot of people - especially because it’s assumed they won’t come back. But this isn’t a problem that is unique to us:
The scarcity of senior experienced software developers is not a South African thing. It’s a global issue and it’s because of the value they bring #SATechEcosystem #TheFutureofWork #GlobalCitizen @OfferZen @bbdsoftware— Katie Cubitt (@Katescub) August 28, 2019
The fact that South African software makers are leaving the country could actually be a positive signal: Both because it means that our local workforce is wanted abroad and because they are likely to learn skills that we may not yet have locally. Many of these software makers also only go abroad for short stints. Once they come back, they are more likely to be able to solve problems and start companies, which in turn creates more jobs and grows the SA economy.
“There’s huge opportunity - and we see a lot of that now, guys with digital-scarce skills going to Europe - and we can see it as a ‘brain drain’ or as an opportunity for where we’re going as an industry.” Devina from @Investec talking at #TheFutureOfWork event!— OfferZen (@OfferZen) August 28, 2019
This also applies when you’re the one looking to hire great talent:
“An easy cheat is to aggressively hire from outside your domain, outside your country, outside your lane. It’s an easy way to bring in new knowledge and grow the global experience share” @OfferZen #TheFutureOfWork #globallessons @bbdsoftware— Katie Cubitt (@Katescub) August 28, 2019
“We have tactile reasons why people want to leave South Africa. But we aren’t good at our own PR. Why can’t we be showing all the amazing things we’re doing? We can be attracting our talent.” @matsimodise YEEEESS! #TheFutureOfWork— OfferZen (@OfferZen) August 28, 2019
Strengthen the community by paying it forward
As Devina put it: “A big challenge for South Africans is that we are hyper-cynical about SA. We don’t celebrate the tech ecosystem enough, and we don’t celebrate the effort being put in by companies that are contributing to it.” While our local community is strong and thriving, often, there’s a lack of awareness of all the opportunities and initiatives across the country. What’s missing to really grow this awareness is a culture of proactive connection and paying it forward.
In places like Silicon Valley, this is quite different. For example, Malan shared stories of visiting Palo Alto where, in his experience, it was relatively easy to reach out to failed startup founders, CTOs, and software makers and they were happy to share their learnings and experiences. They even gave him all sorts of advice on how not to go about building a tech company!
@malanjoubert “Another pro tip for corporates: Just open up your APIs. Share the insanely awesome infrastructure you have within your company and help the ecosystem and startups” @OfferZen #TheFutureOfWork #thisguygetsit pic.twitter.com/tB9gaZTedH— Katie Cubitt (@Katescub) August 28, 2019
A huge THANK YOU to our sponsors Investec, Luno and SnapScan for making this discussion possible - it really goes a long way towards building a community that is involved, connected and excited to build cool tech!
We’d recommend following our speakers - online of course ;) - for more on the work they’re doing to build up our local ecosystem:
If you attended the event, you may have been caught on candid camera! Check out the images from the evening to see if you can spot yourself:
Otherwise, if you’d like to catch up on the discussion or share it with your friends, subscribe to the blog to get the full video and podcast of the event in our next newsletter!