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6 Ways in which creativity and innovation can spur job creation

Creative industries – which include audiovisual products, design, new media, performing arts, publishing and visual arts –is a highly transformative sector of the world economy in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings. The creative industry through collective action is making significant inroads to bolstering the economy, while helping to solve some of Africa’s most pressing challenges.

Collective action is not the result of collaboration, but of the aggregate and independent effort of single citizens, companies and countries. This is according to the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2024, in partnership with Marsh McLennan and the Zurich Insurance Group, that calls for fiscal incentives to be deployed to encourage innovation within the private sector.

The role of philanthropy can act as a key source of funding for ambitious projects to eradicate disease and boost climate resilience, for example. According to the Global Risks Report, policymakers need to adopt a dual vision, harnessing the power of innovation to address present challenges, while keeping an eye on the future. 

Useability for technological innovation

Digital innovation on the African continent must be supported through funding. This is according to Zoho Regional Manager, Africa, Andrew Bourne. “South Africa, for example, has the Technology Innovation Agency (founded in 2008), which provides funding and support to startups and Kenya, meanwhile, established the National Innovation Agency in 2013. Similarly, Nigeria’s Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Scheme provides funding and support to startups in the technology sector,” comments Bourne. 

“However, while that support should be applauded, it’s important to note that digital innovation in and of itself doesn’t guarantee economic value. For that to happen, and for any innovation to be effective, usability is absolutely critical,” he adds. 

Speaking on the topic of digitisation innovation in the insurance industry is Vis Govender, Co-Founder at Everything.Insure and Group CEO at firstEquity Group. He comments that “Digitalisation has long been identified as a key driver of value, innovation, and the development of the insurance industry. We at Everything.Insure are leveraging the power and potential of cutting-edge digital technologies to transform the way businesses, brokers, and insurance underwriters connect while reimagining insurance in a more accessible, client-centric form. Everything.Insure’s recently established commercial digital marketplace will help to strengthen South Africa’s position as a hub of technological innovation as the country becomes the first to offer commercial businesses digital marketplace insurance services.”

Innovation and creativity in job creation 

Entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity has a far-reaching cascading impact into other sectors in the economy. Gail Odgers, Head of Acquisition at Sportingbet explains that tech innovation has the power to establish new jobs such as software developers, IT specialists, data scientists, and customer service representatives across industries, including sports betting and sports industries.

“We have experienced tremendous innovation in this industry, spurred by the emergence of AI in this sector, advanced data analytics and the creativity behind gamification in producing world-class online gaming experiences,” says Odgers.

“The growth of sports betting has also demonstrated the development of supportive businesses and services; for example, data analysts, and content creators; providing employment opportunities for individuals with expertise in sports betting analysis.”

Offsetting poverty and joblessness

One organisation using the creative economy to provide economic opportunities for vulnerable groups is NPO Relate Bracelets. “Poverty,  joblessness, and the underfunding of charities are all huge problems in South Africa,” says Dalit Shekel, CEO of Relate. “The Relate model touches on solutions for all three, with seniors from Ikamva Labantu, refugees, and township youth earning an income from making beautiful bracelets, which are sold through outlets like Tourvest. The majority of revenue from those sales is then donated to credible causes and invested in social upliftment initiatives.”

Relate’s focus on fostering creativity and innovation to address issues such as poverty eradication is also part of a larger job sustainability ideal, aimed at economic betterment for individuals and communities. It’s clearly a model that works. To date, Relate has raised R76.2 million for social upliftment, sold over 4 million bracelets sold worldwide, and empowered 400 Ikamva seniors with incomes. 

Spurring connectivity and economic growth

“Innovation has a significant benefit, particularly in enhancing digital infrastructures that propel economic growth,” says Vanashree Govender, Media & Communications Manager at Huawei South Africa. With advancements in 5G technology, Huawei has enabled new capabilities across industries.

Enabling connectivity improves and supports the creation of high-value, tech-driven jobs, which are crucial for integrating South Africa into the global tech economy. The value of investing in R&D cannot be understated. Huawei invests 23.4% of its annual revenue into R&D. “This commitment not only ensures our leadership in new products and technologies but also transforms industries and opens markets,” she adds. These new markets trigger demand for advanced technological skills and capabilities essential for job creation in South Africa. By fostering these opportunities, Huawei helps build an ecosystem where technological proficiency is highly sought after, supporting job creation across the technology sector and the broader economy.