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A special mix of purpose and technology is giving some of Africa's younger firms an edge in the hunt for talent. Alex Mugan talks to representatives of BitPesa and Bridge International Academies to discover the secrets of Purpology

With the fourth industrial revolution making digital the new normal across most sectors, those who are continuing to stand out as employers are doing something more. They are combining their technological innovation with a social impact which we've seen repeatedly driving strong performances in Careers in Africa Employer of Choice rankings for the likes of the African Development Bank, DBSA and Afreximbank.

In doing so, they are creating a sense of Purpology, the new spin on the magic which has always been at the heart of successful employer brands. By mixing purpose and technology, these organisations are able to hit some of the key differentiators within the employee experience, including a sense of vision (enhanced by sustainability), competitive innovation (people like to back winners), personal development (you learn more working at the cutting edge) and trust in leadership (a strong mission makes leaders look better).

Strong employer brands have always operated in these areas, but the Purpology brands have hit on an on-trend mix of impact and innovation which is allowing them to compete favourably with significantly larger and older brands in-the race for talent. We spoke to representatives of two such organisations, BitPesa and Bridge International Academies, to find out how their employer brands are put together, and what results they are seeing.

How can Africa-focused tech brands compete with the global players for talent?

Charlene Chen, COO, BitPesa: "The tech industry across the continent, particularly in East and West Africa, has never been hotter. But it's the purpose which can set African brands apart. Dozens of African companies are already tackling incredibly huge challenges in fields ranging from agriculture and energy, to education and financial services. Africa-focused tech brands should focus on attracting talent who are more inspired by solving huge problems than on building tiny features for a limited customer segment."

Divya Venkat, VP People, Bridge International Academies "Bridge International Academies is a social justice movement, supported by technology. We run or support more than 1,200 nursery and primary schools (primarily public schools) across Africa and Asia and have educated 500,000 children from communities earning less than $2 per day. Providing life changing education for all children and supporting the delivery of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 4 is the purpose that every single employee in the organisation is driven by."

How does the mission come through in the employer brand to attract talent? CC, BitPesa: "BitPesa's mission is to significantly reduce the friction of doing business in frontier markets by developing innovative payment and treasury solutions. We find that we attract employees who recognise the problems we are solving and want to be a part of the solution."

DV, Bridge: "Our mission is unique and Bridge finds that those who are motivated by social impact are drawn to us. We have talent from a wide variety of backgrounds including teachers, academics, researchers, developers and data scientists. All of them believe every child has the right to a high quality education and believes education will deliver peace and prosperity locally and globally."

So you've established a sense of purpose and innovation as part of the employer brand. How do you actually deliver that in the EVP?

DV: "Through training and empowering tens of thousands government and community teachers and head-teachers. Bridge uses its technology to disseminate, training, lesson plans and admin support from Nairobi to our schools across the world. Data from every lesson & school is going back to Nairobi, monitoring pupil and teacher performance and attendance, which together with in-person coaching and reviews, provides teachers with exceptional training and development opportunities.

Bonike Ayanbadejo, Head of People Operations, BitPesa: "We link skills development to our innovation, so it's very much part of the day job. We give our employees exposure to new technologies such as crypto-currency and Blockchain. For us, the opportunity to gain valuable new skills is critical in the attraction and retention of talent, especially in this era where the majority of candidates are in part of Generation Y."

The 2019 Careers in Africa Employer of Choice rankings underscore the importance of Purpology in creating an attractive employer brand. Organisations across Africa should be focusing on how they can deliver an authentic combination of innovation and impact to win the race for talent.
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Title Annotation:Talent Matters: The Employee Experience; Alex Mugan interview
Comment:PURPOLOGY--THE SECRET BEHIND AFRICA'S CHALLENGER EMPLOYER BRANDS.(Talent Matters: The Employee Experience)(Alex Mugan interview)
Author:Mugan, Alex
Publication:African Business
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Aug 1, 2019
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