Chosen by Forbes in 2011 as one of Africa’s Top 10 most ‘Powerful and Influential Men’ of his generation, Euvin Naidoo has worked as an executive within financial services in both the USA and Africa for over 15 years. Euvin was part of the African leadership team at the Boston Consulting Group. When he joined, he was the first South African Partner and Managing Director from the Johannesburg office. He led the Africa Financial Institutions and Public Sector (DFIs, Treasury and Central Banks) Practices.
Euvin was born in Gusa, a small town in the Northern part of South Africa, in 1971. Growing up in South Africa in the 70s and 80s, Euvin experienced some level of poverty. Although he was more fortunate than some of his contemporaries, he knew what it meant to lack basic amenities. Those formative years served as a springboard for most of the things he has been doing for over a decade now – trying to change the African narrative.
Euvin Naidoo worked at McKinsey & Co at their first African office in Johannesburg. He was elected president of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America. Naidoo’s personal focus and work are on digital innovation and transformation within banking and insurance, incorporating the themes of risk, customer centricity, agility, automation, financial inclusion, development of capital markets, and the implications of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ on financial services organizations, staff, stakeholders, and customers. He also focuses on ‘Sales Force Effectiveness’ and the organizational changes needed to drive the delivery of bottom-line impact at scale for banks, asset managers, and insurance companies.
In recognition of his work and impact across Africa, Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs has previously named Euvin as one of the ‘Five Faces of African Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As a Senior Fellow, his research is entitled “The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Africa.” Euvin Naidoo has been very vocal about changing the negative publicity about Africa. In times past, all that many knew of Africa was that it was a dark continent.
In the past, when people think of Africa, they paint pictures of genocide, famine, HIV, AIDS, wars, slavery, and so on. This narrative could not be farther from the truth. The truth is that Africa is where all life began. Africa is the second-largest continent, after Asia. It covers about a fifth of the total landmass of the earth. For instance, South Africa was voted in 2007 to be the top destination for top 1000 UK companies offshore call centers. Africa provides 18% of the US oil supply, while the Middle East supplies 16%. Africa has suffered from the curse of these commodities because there is over-reliance on crude oil, and its derivatives have caused neglect of other sectors. Egypt launched an industrial Zone valued at about $2.8 billion. The aim was to focus on textile and pharmaceuticals. In Africa, there are challenges, as well as opportunities. For instance, about 50% of all the roads in Africa are untarred. Also, there is an energy shortage, and the majority of the population is unbanked. CNBC is a 24-hour News Channel dedicated to Africa. This is because the good news is expected to come out of Africa in no distant time. All these are pointers because, along with the challenges, there are untapped opportunities in Africa.
Nelson Mandela, Turnaround Leader
In 2003, together with Prof. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Naidoo co-authored the Harvard Business School case, ‘Nelson Mandela, Turnaround Leader.’ They researched lessons from Mandela. What they found out was amazing: that public sector leader could have lessons for Wall Street and the rest of the world. Particularly a leader from Africa, which is believed to be the “dark continent.” Mandela was exemplary in character. One important area that stood out in the lessons they found out revolves around trust. He could be totally trusted.
The Prosperity Paradox
Euvin Naidoo has contributed a great deal to the discussion of Africa over the years. One such was a discussion on the book titled “The Prosperity Paradox” written by Clayton Christensen, Efosa Ojomo, and Karen Dillon. Naidoo, like many of his colleagues, was influenced by the work of Professor Clayton. The Economist magazine described Clayton as the most influential management thinker of his time.
Having grown up in a small town in South Africa in the 70s and 80s, Euvin interprets prosperity as being linked to human beings’ dignity. For instance, poverty implies that the poor lack the basic amenities and necessities of life. Also, they are often treated with disdain and regarded as inconsequential members of society.
The prosperity paradox aims to unpack how to create an opportunity, especially for those who do not have access. There is a theory of how to create change or how change happens in Society; some believe it comes from disseminating ideas. Others believe institutions create them. In the book “The prosperity paradox,” Clayton believes that market-driven innovation is at the heart of development and prosperity.
In speaking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Eugin believes it may have the greatest impact in Africa, just as mobile telephony had about a decade ago. 20 years ago, if you said you wanted to open a mobile phone shop in Africa, the locals would have laughed at you. These are people who never in their wildest Dreams thought of using mobile phones. Suddenly they can get access to mobile phones, and their lives get increasingly better. That market pioneered by Jimoh Ibrahim and other entrepreneurs has grown to become a couple of hundred billion dollars and supports about 4 million jobs.
Those people who previously couldn’t afford the products but can now do so are called non-consumers. That means people who are not consuming products that could help their lives get better.
Awards and Recognitions
Eugine Naidoo was Selected in 2009 as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2012 he was recruited to the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils. He served 2 terms on the United States Council. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network. Euvin was honored with the Harvard Business School 2017 Africa Leadership Excellence Award.