#Africa Talent top challenge to online businesses

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Finding the right talent to hire is one of the key challenges facing online companies in Africa, which is why businesses should work together with educational institutions to improve talent preparation for the marketplace, according to panelists speaking at the Africa Technology Summit.

Speaking at last week’s Africa Technology Summit (ATS), hosted by the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), panelists discussing marketplace challenges all said finding, training and retaining the right talent is one of the top challenges faced by online businesses.

Finding the right talent is alway a big deal,” said Kelvin Nyame, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of meQasa.

Jide Otoki​ , managing director of ​Jobberman Ghana,​ agreed, saying finding the right team online is not always easy given many qualified candidates may not be online themselves.

“Finding the offline talent for an online opportunity is difficult. Some of the really good talents are not online and that can make it challenging sometimes finding the right fit for the available opportunities,” Otoki said.

The reality is that new hires require significant training – despite their educational qualifications – the panelists said; and businesses must also work to create an environment conducive to employee retention.

“People are one of my top two business challenges. You need to train people from the ground up. They are willing, but lack the experience, so you need to train them up,” said Femi Akinde, founder and CEO of Slimtrader.

“Talent is always a challenge everywhere. You need to make them happy, motivated and create the best environment for them to deliver quality,” added Cristobal Alonso, founder and CEO of Mobofree.

According to the panelists, the best way to address difficulties connected to talent acquisition and market readiness is to partner with educational institutions to ensure those emerging from educational programmes have had hands-on experience, and have the relevant skills to fit into the marketplace.

“We need to partner with the providers of education to improve the situation. Most of the education system is about learning and passing exams with little or no context,” said Akinde.

“Maybe we should get professors with real world experience to come back into the system to offer real context. It should be driven more towards critical thinking,” he said.

Asked specifically what businesses can do to improve talent education, the panelists said businesses can contribute in a myriad of ways, from providing funds, to inviting interns to join their organisation for hands-on practice.

We will commit 10 to 25 per cent of our exit to invest in young people,” said Alonso.

“Go to campuses and work in collaboration to give them an insight into what the workplace looks like and the demands out there. That will spur them in the right direction. It also creates interest in getting internships and so on, which in turn creates more value for your company,” said Otoki.

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