11 Business Opportunities in Africa That Could Make More Millionaires in 2018

11 Business Opportunities in Africa That Could Make More Millionaires in 2018

The term “millionaire” is taking on a new meaning in Africa.

It’s no longer just about the size of your bank account; any shady politician, corrupt bureaucrat, or unscrupulous businessman on the continent can easily claim to be a millionaire.

But Africa’s new and emerging generation of millionaires are not just excited about money. They’re also passionate about impact; they want to create value that touches and improves people’s lives.

It’s called impact entrepreneurship. It’s the new way of making money and doing good, at the same time.

It’s a model that is proving that profit and ambition do not always have to come at another’s expense.

Remember, the bulk of Africa’s “old school” millionaires made their money from resource extraction and sheer opportunism. Often, their wealth had to come at the expense of the common good and the natural environment.

But Africa’s new wave of entrepreneurs is showing no keen interest in the continent’s finite resources; its timber, gold, copper, oil and diamonds. Rather, they’re far more interested in a much more valuable resource: problems.

Africa is a continent overwhelmed by serious problems, from unemployment and illiteracy, to hunger and inadequate electricity.

As you’re about to find out in this article, this new generation of millionaires is focusing on the continent’s problems because solving these problems will unlock massive streams of wealth, jobs and prosperity for the continent.

Most of these problems are tough, widespread and decades old. But while they are scary and frustrating to most people, entrepreneurs see them for the breathtaking opportunities they really are.

This article profiles 11 of the most promising business opportunities in Africa that will make more millionaires in 2018.

Let’s meet them…

1) Crowdfarming

Photo credit: Quartz Africa

Across the world, agriculture is big business and most farmers are financially well-off. But not yet in Africa.

According to the United Nations, Africa’s agribusiness industry is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030.

And it makes perfect sense. The continent has a huge domestic market, owns 60 percent of the world’s unused arable land, and has abundant labour resources, and a favourable climate in most parts.

Still, Africa spends over $30 billion on food imports annually.

A big part of the problem is, most of Africa’s food is still produced by smallholder farmers in rural areas. They are largely poor people who use crude farming methods, and have very limited access to capital.

But what if all of us in the cities pool funds together, invest in these rural farmers, and take a share of the profits at harvest time?

Wouldn’t that significantly boost food production, cut down the continent’s food import bill, and make more money for both the investors and the farmers?

This business model is called “crowdfarming”, and it’s a trend that could totally transform the face of agribusiness in Africa.

In Nigeria, two crowdfarming platforms — FarmCrowdy and ThriveAgric — enable working-class Nigerians to crowd-sponsor farming projects and earn a share in the returns at harvest time. Last year, FarmCrowdy raised $1 million from US investors to expand its operations.

In Somalia, Ari.Farm is an online marketplace and crowdfarming platform that enables investors from across the world to play in the Somali livestock market.

In South Africa, Livestock Wealth, helps investors to own pregnant cows, and track them through a mobile app. Once the calf reaches seven months, it is sold to a feedlot or slaughterhouse and the return for the beef goes to the investors.

As Africa’s population doubles over the next 30 years, the business opportunities in Africa ‘s agribusiness space are very likely to produce a league of millionaires who made their money while pulling thousands of farmers out of poverty.

2) Waste

Photo credit: Earth Hour

For decades, waste has been a huge and nagging problem in Africa’s urban areas.

Currently, most of the waste generated in Africa is either burned, buried or thrown away. As a result, more than 80 percent of solid waste produced on the continent ends up in landfills or gets dumped in water bodies.

And as the continent’s population continues to rise, the waste problem will only get worse.

So, what do we do with all the growing heaps of filthy waste before we find ourselves in the middle of the worst environmental crisis the world has ever known?

In South Africa, the solution appears to be to convert waste into animal feed.

AgriProtein is a business that grows maggots from waste collected from markets, households and businesses. The maggots are processed into a highly nutritious protein supplement that substitutes fish meal in animal feed. The company has raised up to $30 million in funding, making it one of the best-funded insect farming businesses to date.

In Ethiopia, the solution is to convert waste into electricity.

The Repi waste recycling factory in Addis Ababa will produce 50 megawatts of electricity from waste collected from across the city. The facility is expected to supply 3 million homes with electricity, and avoid the release of millions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Across the continent, entrepreneurs are hard at work trying to squeeze out value from waste, and in the process, they’re creating an industry that could provide both low and high-level jobs for thousands of people.

From the trend of waste recycling and transformation initiatives I’ve observed, there’s only one place this is heading to.

I predict that over the next decade, waste will become a valuable commodity that households and businesses can sell for money. And the waste is likely to return to the food chain, to the electricity grid, or in some other recycled form.

3) Drones

Photo credit: Aerobotics

In Africa, it appears there’s much more to drones than chasing terrorists and taking breathtaking altitude photographs.

Drones are finding some of their most versatile and impactful roles in Africa and are helping with everything from logistics and farmland management, to humanitarian deliveries and conservation support.

In Rwanda, Zipline is a drone delivery startup that delivers blood and medical supplies to clinics in the country. After successful pilot operations, it is now expanding into neighbouring Tanzania.

Aerobotics is a South African business that uses its drones to provide bird’s eye surveillance for farmers that provides critical information that can boost crop yields by up to 10 percent. It now operates in 11 countries, including the US, Russia and the UK.

In other parts of the continent, drones are playing more roles in humanitarian efforts to deliver aid to remote and conflict-ridden areas. They are also being used to monitor deforestation and illegal mining activities as part of efforts to conserve the continent’s forests and wildlife.

As you know the drone industry is relatively new and still emerging. At this rate, there is still a wide range of possibilities for drone technology in Africa.

And those entrepreneurs who can adapt drones to solving serious problems on the continent will open new and uncharted territory that could unlock wealth, jobs and more business opportunities in Africa.

4) Affordable housing

Photo credit: Home Times

Africa is experiencing the world’s highest rate of rural-to-urban migration. And by 2030, it is projected that up to 50 percent of the continent’s population could be living in towns and cities.

Urbanisation is great, but where will all these people live? And even if the governments tried, they cannot build homes fast enough to meet the teeming demand for accommodation.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, the housing deficit is estimated at 20 million homes. In South Africa, the deficit stands at 2.3 million homes.

Africa’s housing crisis opens a lot of interesting opportunities for several industries; from cement production and furniture making, to building contractors and mortgages.

It’s no surprise Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has expanded his presence in cement production across several countries on the continent. His interests in cement now make up a significant portion of his net worth.

But beyond conventional housing, there is an interesting trend of homes being built from cheap and durable alternatives, like shipping containers.

In Cape Town (South Africa), building contractors like Berman-Kalil are offering sustainable and affordable housing options by converting decommissioned shipping containers into low-cost homes.

In Kenya, entrepreneurs like Denise Majani are also converting shipping containers into amazingly creative residential and office accommodation at half the price of contemporary housing.

These alternative options are significantly cutting down the cost of building homes, making them affordable to a larger segment of the population.

So far, most of Africa’s housing developments have focused on the premium and elite segment of the market. While the large margins from this segment have been very lucrative for investors, the biggest opportunities will emerge from providing housing at scale, and at affordable prices.

5) Automobiles

The Mobius II (Photo credit: Mobius Motors)

As more Africans migrate to the cities, the big urbanization wave has caused a surge in demand for transportation services.

Currently, there are just about 44 vehicles per 1,000 people in Africa. This is significantly below the global average of 180, and lower than the motorization rates of other developing regions like Latin America, Oceania and the Middle East.

Estimates suggest that vehicle sales on the continent could reach 10 million units per annum within the next 15 years.

It’s no surprise the big name automobile brands like Toyota, Volkswagen and Mercedes are already digging into the African market by setting up assembly plants on the continent.

But what is more interesting is the emergence of “Made in Africa” automobiles.

The Mobius II is a luxury SUV built in Kenya and is set to hit the market in 2018. It is being advertised as “an affordable, no thrills, but robust and classy SUV that’s built for African roads.”

In Nigeria, Innoson Motors — a homegrown car maker – has released a range of private cars.

And in Uganda, Kiira Motors is developing Africa’s first hybrid cars. It has already launched Africa’s first solar-powered bus.

There are also promising indigenous automobile makers in Ghana, Tunisia and Sudan.

Currently, just about 50 percent of Africa’s roads are paved. As the continent’s development drive continues, this percentage will rise and so will the demand for automobiles and transportation services.

This rise in demand will create several interesting business opportunities in Africa and open supporting industries including dealerships, spare parts, auto-service shops, auto financing, and even ridesharing services.

6) Local products for export

Nilotica shea nuts. Photo credit: LXMI

Africa spends billions of dollars on imports every year. This includes both food and non-food items.

But beyond the traditional commodities – crude oil, minerals, cocoa, coffee, timber etc. — what else of value can Africa actually export?

It happens there are a lot of local products on the continent that have the potential to become global brands. The problem is, we often overlook or look down on them.

But a few interesting entrepreneurs are now turning local African products into global brands and best-sellers.

Take Nilotica for example, a rare type of Shea butter that is used in luxury beauty products sold around the world. The trees that produce this butter only grow at the source of the Nile River; in Northern Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

By working with local women in the region to process the butter, Leila Janah – an American entrepreneur — has built LXMI, a luxury beauty brand with a range of skincare products that sell in over 300 beauty stores across the world.

Another example is fonio, a forgotten cereal that has been grown in Africa for more than 5,000 years.

Largely regarded as a “miracle” grain, fonio is gluten-free and rich in several nutrients that are deficient in most other major grains, such as rice, wheat and barley.

By processing fonio into products like crackers, cereals and pasta, one Senegalese entrepreneur and ex-chef — Pierre Thiam – has put this ancient food on shelves in New York, with plans to roll out to other stores across the USA.

Nilotica and fonio are only just two examples of several local African products that have global potential. And in 2018, more smart entrepreneurs will carve niches for themselves by exploring these products and transforming them into international brands.

Will you be one of them?

7) Startup funding

Photo credit: Quartz Africa

The buzz of entrepreneurship activity on the African continent has caught the attention of a growing number of investors, both within and outside the continent.

The potential returns on investment in Africa is currently one of the highest in the world, and has become too obvious for investors to ignore.

Since 2012, the amount of seed funding and venture capital flowing to Africa has grown 1,400 percent. And the trend continues to look up.

In 2017 alone, African tech startups received $560 million in funding from local and international investors. This amount represents a 53 percent jump from the $366 million raised one year earlier, in 2016.

And the biggest deal of the year was a $69 million investment in TakeALot, a South African e-Commerce startup.

Also, Silicon Valley accelerators such as 500 Startups and Y Combinator have increased the number of African startups that are admitted into, and receive funding, through their programmes.

Currently, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are in the spotlight and take the lion share (about 75 percent) of the investment inflows.

It’s important to note that every year, the size of venture capital investments that take place around the world exceeds $100 billion. Currently, Africa gets less than 1 percent of this global deal flow.

It’s still very early days in Africa’s startup funding space, and 2018 will certainly attract more investors looking to explore emerging business opportunities in Africa, and take their positions in lucrative deals.

8) Fintech

Photo credit: Mail & Guardian

Africa’s underdeveloped financial services industry presents very tough, important and widespread problems that need to be solved.

After more than 50 years of banking on the continent, just about 34 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa have bank accounts or access to formal financial services.

It is clear the traditional model of banking is too slow, inflexible and incapable of spreading financial access at the pace the continent requires.

But with the spread of mobile phones and the Internet across Africa, the continent’s entrepreneurs are leveraging technology to deepen financial access in ways the banks never have.

Last year, Flutterwave, a Nigerian fintech startup, raised $10 million in funding from a group of investors led by Greyloft, a US-based venture capital firm.

To date, it’s one of the highest Series A round investment in an African startup.

And there are a wide range of opportunities that are opening up in Africa’s financial services space.

They include bill payments, bulk disbursement, international remittances, merchant payments, mobile airtime top up, mobile banking, person-to-person transfers, peer-to-peer lending, micro insurance, and several other interesting opportunities.

In the area of overseas remittances for example, Africa loses more than $1.4 billion annually in charges alone. Western Union and MoneyGram have been longtime monopolies in the remittances segment, and are clearly ripe for disruption.

Opening up, growing and disrupting Africa’s financial services market will certainly transform millions of lives on the continent and create a league of millionaires in the process.

Fintech will surely remain one of the top business opportunities in Africa to watch in 2018.

9) Low-cost private schools

Photo credit: Montage Africa Magazine

According to this report titled: “The Business of Education in Africa”, it is estimated that 1 in 4 African students – a total of 66 million – will be enrolled in private schools by the year 2021.

Rapid population growth, poor funding, corruption and neglect have caused a serious deterioration in the quality of education in public schools on the continent.

As a result, more African parents are looking to private schools to ensure their kids get a good education. And the demand for this alternative is skyrocketing.

For example, in Nigeria, the number of low-cost private schools in Lagos, its commercial capital, is estimated to be as high as 18,000. By comparison, in 2010-11 the city had just 1,600 government schools.

And this trend of low-cost private education is leading entrepreneurs to come up with several interesting models.

In Tanzania, the Silverleaf Academy is a chain of low-cost private primary schools that charge a daily school fee of $1.50. The school uses a technology-based approach and offers a curriculum taught by internally-trained teachers.

In Nigeria, the Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools is a stand-alone low-cost school that charges an average annual fee of $125. The school has received up to $75,000 in funding from Village Capital and Pearson Affordable Learning.

As more players enter the low-cost private education space on the continent, I suspect the fierce competition will improve the quality of education, drive down school fees, and afford many children the chance of a decent education.

Rather than set up exclusive private schools for the elite, who says entrepreneurs can’t make good returns and find tons of fulfillment in educating children en masse?

10) Urban logistics

Photo credit: Edge Magazine

The future of Africa is in the cities. And by 2030, up to half of the continent’s 1.4 billion people will be located in the cities.

Currently, about 60 African cities have a population of over 1 million people. At the top of the pack are cities like Lagos (21 million), Kinshasa (10 million), and Cairo (9.5 million).

And one of the biggest problems that appears to be worsening with the growth of Africa’s urban populations is congestion. Most cities on the continent do not yet have well-diversified transport systems, so getting around town can be a very frustrating endeavour.

It’s a logistical nightmare that worries both consumers and businesses.

Thankfully, some African entrepreneurs are already hacking this problem.

In Kenya, Twiga Foods uses technology to pool the orders of several urban retailers, saving them a trip to the market by delivering to their doorstep. It is now the largest distributor of a number of basic food staples in Kenya, and the startup raised $10.3 million last year.

In Nigeria, MAX is a fast-growing startup that provides last-mile delivery services. Last year, it launched an on-demand motorcycle courier service for clients who have critical deliveries that need to beat the notorious congestion on Lagos roads.

As we go into the future, more entrepreneurs will figure out ways to outsmart the complex problems and frustrating challenges of logistics in urban areas.

In 2018, urban logistics will likely remain one of the most promising emerging business opportunities in Africa.

11) Healthcare services

Photo credit: Creative Commons

With poorly-funded public hospitals, and a significant brain drain of African doctors to countries outside the continent, waiting for the government to fix the continent’s healthcare sector will not work.

Also, waiting for international “donor” funds (which are channeled through governments) will not work too. We have been doing the same thing for decades and very little has changed.

With 25 percent of the global disease burden, a rapidly growing population, and a rising middle class, Africa’s healthcare market presents a huge opportunity.

According to the IFC, Africa’s $21 billion healthcare market could double in size in just 10 years.

Currently, a growing number of Africans are seeking medical help outside the continent, in places like India, the Middle East and Europe. This growth in outbound medical tourism costs Africans millions of dollars every year.

To arrest this ugly situation before it gets much worse, Africa needs a private-sector led transformation of its healthcare industry that requires both the innovation of local entrepreneurs and investment from local and international investors.

Gladly, this transformation is already happening.

In East Africa, a growing number of Indian hospital groups, like Narayana and Gurgaon, are setting up hospital facilities to tap into the continent’s healthcare market.

In Kenya, Dr. Maxwell Okoth, a young medical doctor and entrepreneur, started a chain of low-cost hospitals with only $3,000. He is now setting up a 100-bed multi-specialty hospital which will have a cancer center, radiology center, pediatric unit, and several other specialties.

In Nigeria, Lifebank – a startup that develops smart ways to deliver critical blood supplies to hospitals in busy cities – raised $0.2 million to support and expand its operations.

Across the continent, more entrepreneurs are exploring creative alternatives to solving Africa’s significant healthcare problems.

There is no doubt their efforts will not only transform the continent’s healthcare industry, but will unlock millions of job opportunities in the process.

2018 will continue the reign of business opportunities in Africa

Millionaires in Africa should no longer be determined and celebrated by the size of their bank accounts, but by the size and scale of the problems they’re solving on the continent.

Africa is a continent that significantly rewards problem-solvers, and provides a rare opportunity in today’s world to make a lot of money, while doing a lot of good at the same time.

It is now abundantly clear that entrepreneurship holds the keys to Africa’s transformation; not global pity, and certainly not foreign aid.

The winners in 2018 will be those entrepreneurs and investors who apply their creativity and determination to solving serious problems on the continent.

If you found this article useful, please forward it via social media or email to the smart people you know.

Africa is on the move and needs as many forward-thinkers who can see the continent’s challenges for the amazing opportunities they really are.

Let’s go, Africa!

Author:  John-Paul Iwuoha – Author, Business Strategist & Champion for Entrepreneurship in Africa

Do You Have A Successful Team? Here Are 9 Things You Should Avoid

Do You Have A Successful Team? Here Are 9 Things You Should Avoid

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another — from grammar school all the way up through to our careers: we’re placed into a new team to complete a project, and something just doesn’t click.

Suddenly, a group of people who are ordinarily competent and diligent can’t seem to get anything done. Deadlines whiz past like the scenery outside a high speed train and projects sink toward failure.

Why is that? What is it that turns teams into dysfunctional groups of people? I’ve identified nine key factors that can turn an otherwise competent team into a sinking mess:

1 – Ego. 

When someone’s ego is more important than the team, the project, or the goal, things break down quickly. This can happen when one person is more interested in “looking good” for the boss than getting the work done, when someone is always placing blame, or when someone feels and acts like they are too good to do the necessary work.

2 – Negative competition. 

Lighthearted competition can be a good thing, especially for certain kinds of teams. In a sales team, for example, individual members can be motivated by gamifying their work with a leaderboard or bonuses for high performance. But when competition goes too far, it can destroy a sense of teamwork and create a “you versus me” atmosphere that isn’t good for anyone.

3 – Poor communication. 

When the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, it causes all sorts of problems: duplicate work, forgotten work, missed deadlines, etc. Communication is absolutely key to a team that works.

4 – Micromanagement. 

When employees have to get approval or sign-off on every single thing they do, it slows down the workflow considerably. Team leaders need to be able to trust employees to make the right choices, and employees need to feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. The right balance here is key.

5 – Criticism without praise. 

I’ve known managers in my career whose entire management philosophy was to criticise everything and rarely if ever dole out praise. I think you can imagine how well that went over with their team. Constructive criticism (keyword: constructive) is vital to helping employees grow, but generous and well timed praise is also important for maintaining enthusiasm and morale.

6 – Unreasonable expectations. 

As a member of a team, nothing feels worse than the sinking feeling of knowing that you will never reach your targets, no matter how hard you work. Goals that are a stretch and require a lot of the team are good, but goals that are way out of reach are depressing. It won’t make employees work harder; it will make them want to give up.

7 – Half-hearted work. 

Having one or more member of the team who only puts in half an effort — showing up late, leaving early, checking email all day, etc. — has a decidedly negative impact on the whole team. It’s important that everyone is putting in a full, equal effort.

8 – Stubbornness. 

When members of a team adopt a “my way or the highway” approach, no one benefits. When working in a team, everyone needs to be open to new ideas, new approaches, and experimentation — even, and perhaps especially, the leader. Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean that’s the best way to do it.

9 – Leading with emotions. 

Instinct, emotions, and gut feelings all have their place, but bringing emotions too much into the team can have a deleterious effect. A team member who always feels spurned when his idea isn’t chosen, who sees slights (real and imagined) in every interaction, or who takes home the stress and anxiety about a project may be bringing too many emotions into the workplace.

Credit: Bernard Marr | Internationally best-selling author; keynote speaker.

 

Tropical Love: Here’s why you need Pineapples.

Tropical Love: Here’s why you need Pineapples.

Pineapples,  as  colorful as they are are  mostly found cultivated in Hawaii in the united states of America among other countries like the Philippines.  Pineapple also known as pina in Spanish is a fruit that looks similar to a pinecone. It is cylindrical in shape with either green brown or yellowish scale. It shows its majestic nature by having a regal crown of somewhat spiky green leaves. Pineapples belong to the species Ananas comosus .

Pineapples are a rich source of nutrients such as minerals and antioxidants.  Pineapples contain protein-digesting enzymes in the stem and core. These enzymes are found in bromelain which is a mixture of the substances found in the stem and core. Excessive coagulation of blood, excessive inflammation and certain types of tumor growth has been shown to be reduced by small doses of bromelain available in dietary supplements

Pineapples also contain antioxidants like vitamin c that defends the body against free radicals that attack and damage normal cells. Vitamin c also helps in building and maintaining a healthy immune system to prevent against infections.

It also contains other minerals like manganese which is essential for energy production and vitamin B which acts as a cofactor in reactions that produce energy for the body.

It also contains carotenoids that help in good vision or eyesight especially in adults.

NB : Cut pineapples can last for about six days if well stored before going bad.

Watermelon : 9 Amazing Health benefits of the Magic Summer Fruit!

Watermelon : 9 Amazing Health benefits of the Magic Summer Fruit!

In the summertime, watermelons are no less than a blessing. These giant big balls bring back the fond memories from childhood of digging our hands into its fleshy goodness and eventually spilling them all over in the process of eating them. And, of course the silly joke that a tree would come out of our mouth if we swallow its seed. Watermelon’s high water content and nutritional value make it a popular choice during summer. It is a rich source of vitamins A, B6 and C, lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids.

We dug around a little and found out amazing benefits of eating this delicious fruit. Read on to know more.

RICHEST SOURCE OF LYCOPENE
Watermelons are rich in lycopene which is a strong antioxidant. Lycopene is a carotenoid which provides the red colour to the fruit.

Lycopene aids:
1. Cardiovascular health by improving blood flow.
2. Protects the skin from the harmful effect of the UV rays.
3. Has the ability to reduce the level of LDL, aka bad cholesterol.
4. Improves bone health by reducing oxidative stress, and are emerging as an alternative natural treatment for the prevention and management of osteoporosis.

CLEANSES THE KIDNEYS
Due to its high water and mineral content, watermelon aids in keeping kidneys healthy. Potassium present in watermelons removes toxic elements from the body and abandons renal calculi and reduces the percentage of uric acid present in the blood.

HELPS REDUCE WEIGHT
It’s high on water and mineral content, fat-free, very low in sodium and low in calories which make it a healthy snack that keeps you full.

HELPS COMBAT CANCER
Watermelon is rich in many antioxidants and flavonoids which gives protection against some types of cancers like colon, breast, lung, pancreatic etc.

GOOD FOR EYESIGHT
Watermelon is a rich source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A. It is also a source of vitamin C, which keeps you away from infections.

PREVENTS HEAT STROKE
Summer is infamous for its heat stroke and dehydration, which leads to severe health problems. Watermelon with its high water content comes as a saviour to protect you from dehydration.

REMOVES MUSCLE SORENESS
Watermelon juice helps reduce muscle soreness and heart rate. Therefore, it is popular with athletes before a workout session.

ASTHMA PREVENTION
Asthma patients world over have benefitted from Vitamin C and watermelons have very high in Vitamin C.

AIDS IN DIGESTION
Watermelon is high on fibre thus helps to prevent constipation and help maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Picture Credit: supermarket.com

#Psychology :The Science Behind Liking Everything Online

#Psychology :The Science Behind Liking Everything Online

#Psychology :The Science Behind Our  Liking Everything Online

We’ve all done it: grazed through our Facebook newsfeeds and impulsively hit the like button.

But beyond the fact that it’s so easy to use, what exactly is it that we find so irresistible about this tiny, seemingly innocuous function? And why are we so compelled to like people, updates and media online?

According to Facebook, a like is “a way to give positive feedback or to connect with people you care about.” The social-media giant recently released statistics indicating that more than 65 million users like things daily, and although it’s generally more popular among younger users, people of all ages seem to enjoy pressing the like button.

The fact that it’s such a popular element of the platform’s functionality goes a long way in showing how important it is, both for the people clicking the button, and those on the receiving end.

What lies behind our obsession with likes?

Like has become much more than just a positive reaction toward a post or update — it has evolved into feedback toward people. As a rule of thumb, the more likes you get, the more loved you’ll feel. In fact, according to anthropologist Krystal D’Costa, the like button has become so influential as a tool that it can boost or shatter a person’s ego. In effect, it has become “an extension of one’s digital personal.”

Not only that, but other researchers have shown that like-based communication actually decreases the feeling of loneliness, as it conveys a sense of empathy and caring. From the sender’s perspective, sending a like can have the same effect as smiling or saying a kind word to someone. It is basically a really easy, low-cost way to communicate positive feedback.

 

So why do we like things? People send compliments on a daily basis for a whole range of reasons, including rather strategic ones such as wanting to appear nice, to “suck up” or to gain something in return (“You look so nice today … Can I borrow your car?”).

Complimenting a person is literally priceless — it doesn’t cost you anything and it can be accomplished with minimum effort. You don’t even have to mean it. People love to receive compliments even if they are very much aware of its manipulative usage. In fact, taken to its extreme, paying a compliment is a “legitimate” opportunity to lie, which is something that people subconsciously tend to enjoy doing from time to time.

Apart from transmitting a positive signal, the act of liking something is evidence of existence in the online realm. Comments affiliated with the like actually constitute your reputation online, and liking the same things as others within our networks reaffirms our connection with the group by identifying points we hold in common. There is, of course, the hope that a favor will be reciprocated: “I liked your post, now you have to like mine.”

In recent years, the opportunity to like something or somebody has spread outside the boundaries of Facebook to other sites. You can press like after reading a news report, purchasing an accessory or watching a movie. In these cases, liking something is an indication of the consumer’s satisfaction with the product or content, in which the like becomes a way to communicate their views and thoughts to other virtual users that they’ve never met before.

Your likes reveal more about you than you think.

Aside from the positive psychological impact of the Facebook like, as a function, it’s certainly not without its issues. In the spring of 2013, research conducted by psychologists at Cambridge University blew the lid off how this easily accessible digital record of your behaviour can be used (ultimately without your consent) to extract sensitive personal information about you — the kind of information that you might not even share with your closest friends.

In the study, over 58,000 volunteers consensually provided their Facebook likes, detailed demographic profiles and the results of several psychometric tests. Using logistic/linear regression, the researchers were able to predict individual psycho-demographic profiles simply from their likes.

In a nutshell, they found that your likes can reveal everything from your sexual orientation, personality traits and IQ, to your race, age and gender. They can predict your religious and political views, whether your parents are separated, how happy you are and even whether you use addictive substances.

The relationship between like and voice.

What drives people to like things outside the boundaries of Facebook’s walls if the action is not accompanied by a social reward?

Here, the answer lies in the concept of voice. Voice is the opportunity you have to present your opinions in the decision-making process, before a final decision is made. As such, it can enhance your sense of satisfaction with your decision, as well as the process that led to it. Voice is instrumental because it helps you to increase control over the decision-making process, which in turn leads to a better outcome.

Numerous studies conducted both in the lab and in natural settings have shown that having a sense of voice can deepen positive feelings, even when it has no direct impact on a decision.

One such study that was designed to observe the effects of voice on both the sender and receiver found that voice increased satisfaction because it heightened the perceived value of the interaction. The study simulated a negotiation in the context of resource allocation, in which one group of participants was given the opportunity to voice their opinions prior to the final decision, and the other group was not.

The results indicated that in comparison to a no-voice condition, the voice condition (which yielded the same negotiation results) increased satisfaction with the decision, and generated positive feelings towards the process in both the sender and the receiver. This is exactly what the like is all about — it enhances satisfaction as it gives value to the whole engagement process.

Having a voice in the decision-making process has been found to enhance satisfaction on both sides — the side that has the opportunity to voice an opinion (the sender), and the side who hears the voice (the receiver). Pressing like after engaging in a personal activity online (reading an article, purchasing an item, watching a movie) is a way of expressing your voice.

There are two levels to the relationship between like and voice: explicit and implicit. At the explicit level, people press like to voice their positive feedback. At the implicit level, the phenomenon relates to the subconscious level of behavior. People value voice because it suggests that their views are worthy and have a positive impact on their social status and self-worth. The opportunity to voice an opinion is interpreted as an expression of respect and appreciation, and thus creates positive feelings.

Why your site should feature a like button.

Clicking like after reading an article, for example, is similar to saying: “I read this article, and I liked it. I want to express my views on the matter because my opinion is worth mentioning.”

The possibility of sharing your opinion online suggests that someone is interested in what you have to say, which in turn has a positive effect on your sense of self-worth. Moreover, it provides the website with a social context. Having the option to like something signals the presence of a real person on the other side, rather than just a virtual figure. The ability to talk back, send comments or share a link (all of which generate positive impact with minimum effort) has the same psychological effect, which is why an increasing number of websites are choosing to use this technique.

It is also possible to learn about the importance of voice from people’s reactions when there is no voice. The frustration effect refers to circumstances in which, despite the possibility for people express an opinion, the decision-maker does not take those opinions into consideration. In such cases, people typically end up feeling worse than they would have, had they not been asked to voice their opinions in the first place.

Another implication of the like is self-persuasion. Because our actions secretly influence our opinions, clicking like can encourage positive thoughts we might have towards a brand or person. Research has shown that after having people actively present persuasive arguments as part of role play, they tend to express positive views that support that argument. Asking someone to say something, even if it contradicts their own views and opinion, can secretly twist their beliefs into favoring what they are saying. Likewise, even if people are not fond of a particular post, object, person or view, the simple act of clicking like, even when done with no profound intention or conviction, can lead to a rationalization process that will subconsciously make them feel positively about that post, object, person, etc.

The like has become so much more than just a positive reaction we express towards something someone has posted or updated. This simple function has become an incredibly influential tool both for the sender and the receiver. Used in a positive way, it can promote self-esteem, self-worth, feelings of acceptance and online socialization.

Its significance stems from both social incentives, because like affects the way other people perceive us, and individual incentives, because it impacts how we feel about ourselves.

entrepreneur.com

Less Clutter, More Space – The Ultimate Minimalist

Less Clutter, More Space – The Ultimate Minimalist

 

We’ve all probably heard the word “minimalism” or seen pictures that depict the concept. Lately, there has been a lot of fuss about minimalism and it seems as though the masses are starting to appreciate this seemingly trending lifestyle. The real question is, do we all know what being a minimalist entails or we’ve all just jumped unto the bandwagon? This article’s main focus is on minimal interior design but before we delve into that, we need to understand what minimalism really is.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism is the deliberate fostering of the things which we need and value most and the elimination of all others that distract us from it. Simply put, we need to own and possess things that actually just matter and be rid of excesses. Less is more.

Today’s modern culture has forced the majority into believing that possessing a lot makes one’s life better and puts you on a certain high ranking on the social ladder. Unfortunately, most people have become slaves to entitlements, approval and material possessions. This is exactly what minimalism is the opposite of. It promotes the most important aspects of our lives and concurrently reducing the noise surrounding it.

To be a true minimalist, one must be free from the desire to possess.

A minimalist’s room

Okay! On to the fun part. By now, I’m certain most people are judging from what they’ve read that, minimalists are boring and upon entering into one’s room, all you’ll see is a plain colored wall and a tiny table in the corner. Well most pictures on the internet show us that so… Yah! Our homes are places where we spend most of our time and they’re sometimes indicators of the kind of life we really live. Minimalists own pretty things too, just in moderation. Beautiful paintings, a monochrome color scheme (my eyes are actually tearing from imagining this), and neatly arranged spaces *inserts emoji with hearts as eyes*…. You really wouldn’t want more once you decide to go minimal.

I am super obsessed with the idea of having stuff neatly arranged to create more space. Like….how do you even sleep at night with all the junk?

There are so many benefits of being a minimalist and the proper organization of items is the least of it. The rooms are classy, things are easy to find and let’s not even talk about the inner peace you get. Having a junk free room with everything in right proportions and in their right places is therapeutic. Yes, it’s very deep and I’m speaking from the deepest part of my heart.

Minimalism is a process and shouldn’t be rushed. Try the less clutter approach. You can start by donating clothes you don’t use anymore or ones that you own but you know deep down that you’ll never wear. Arrange your stuff neatly. And as much as possible, avoid extras. In the end, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

I wish you a happy, healthy clutter-free life!