Innovation and entrepreneurship are hughly important to transform our economies. Not an easy undertaking these days. Yet, despite the financial crisis and increasing unemployment rates, I like to mention two disruptive developments that, in addition to crowd funding (see blog ‘OpenIncubation goes mainstream though crowd funding’) will boost exponential innovation and entrepreneurship to unprecedented levels. These developments are mobile payments and online collaboration platforms.

Mobile payments & micro businesses

The first disruptive development takes place in Africa where telecom operators provide mobile payment services to millions of people who previously had no banking account but did have a mobile phone. The widespread acceptance of mobile payments in Africa is spurring entrepreneurship, exponential innovation and business opportunities. Safaricom, the Kenyan mobile-phone operator who successfully introduced the mobile payments service M-PESA, now widens its mobile payments services to savings and loans. This way, micro-business financing becomes available to anyone with a mobile phone. M-PESA is already being used by almost 15 million people out of a population of 19 million adults.

 Safaricom

Open collaboration platforms

The second disruptive development to transform our economies comes from open innovation and collaboration platforms such as Odesk.com (collaboration platform for freelancers), Githup.com (open collaboration platform for coders), Kaggle.com (collaboration platform for data analytics) and Innocentive.com (collaboration platform for problem solvers). An increasing number of freelancers, entrepreneurs, students and corporate institutions participate on these distributed collaboration platforms to create unseen opportunities on a scale that was previously only achievable by multinational corporations.

Github

Entrance to the global economy

The combination of mobile payments and online collaboration platforms are the seeding ground for further exponential innovation in Africa. It provides the African workforce a non-barrier, very competitive entrance to the global economy. Not surprisingly, Kenya is seen as one of the most innovative regions in the world. In Europe, I expect that platform enabled entrepreneurship will become soon the alternative route to stimulate and transform our weak economies. Welcome to the Venture economy.