Clayton M. Christensen was an American academic and business consultant who developed the theory of "disruptive innovation", which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century.
Most Important Task
“Now that we have achieved our national goal, you will expect me to give you a bit of advice regarding the manner in which we can put our shoulders behind the most difficult and important task of building up our new state into what we all wish it to be: namely one of the greatest states in the world. The first thing you should do is to learn to appreciate the difference in the approach to the problems with which we are faced now, in contrast with those which were facing us when we were struggling for our independence. During our struggle for the achievement of Pakistan, we were critical of the Government which was a foreign Government and which we wanted to replace by a Government of our own. In doing so we had to sacrifice many things including the academic careers of our younger generation. May I say that you played your part magnificently. Now that you have achieved your goal that is, a Government of your own, and a country which belongs to you and in which you can live as free men, your responsibilities and your approach to the political, social and economic problems must also change.”
- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam
- Speech: Responsibilities of the youth
- Speech: Reply to the address presented by the Students of Islamia College, Peshawar
The historic freedom struggle places a special responsibility on all present and future generations to build up Pakistan into a democratic, progressive and economically prosperous state.
The foreign colonial government is no more, it is our own government and self-governance requires a new approach for national progress. An approach based on a sense of ownership of the national economy, institutions and state apparatus. We ought to internalize and live by the following words by Mr. Jinnah:
“You can make a big contribution towards bringing about harmony and unity where for personal and other selfish considerations, some people may adopt courses which are likely to lead to disruption and disunity. Remember that your government is like your garden. Your garden flourishes by the way you look after it and the efforts that you put towards its improvement. Similarly, your government can only flourish by your patriotic, honest and constructive efforts to improve it.”
The lack of material progress in the past seventy-five years is not solely the result of the mutilation of the colonized people by the colonial regime. It is also the result of intellectual and entrepreneurial laziness of the national middle class, of its spiritual penury, and moral indolence. Self-awareness is key to ushering in an era of enduring progress, we must shake-off our slumber and devote our energies to achieve economic self-determination.
The best contribution of the regular citizens to “look after their garden” is to build up the academic-industrial complex, to teach ethics and educate more Pakistanis but also, provide the practical know-how to build businesses, build innovative technologies, create new markets, and generate wealth.
While our universities are central to economic production, we need to build national-scale companies to absorb young graduates and provide avenues to apply their education and build innovative technologies, create jobs, solve problems, democratize solutions and pull-in institutions, infrastructure, legislation and resources that build-up the entire ecosystem.
Let’s review the example of Indomie noodles in Nigeria, from the following excerpt from Clayton Christensen:
Perhaps the most beloved product in Nigeria is also one of the humblest: Indomie instant noodles. Sold in single-serving packets for the equivalent of less than 20 US cents, the brand enjoys near-universal name recognition in the country and maintains a 150,000-member fan club with branches in more than 3,000 primary schools.
You may not have heard of it, but Indomie is a household brand name in Nigeria.
In 2016, I was honored to speak at Harvard Business School’s Africa Business Club, with approximately 1,500 attendees. In my talk, I referenced Tolaram, only to blank stares in the auditorium. But when I said, “These are the guys that make Indomie noodles,” the crowd went wild. Why would noodles cause a crowd to go wild? And more importantly, what in the world does that have to do with development and prosperity?
What Tolaram, through Indomie noodles, has done in Nigeria is astonishing. Since its entry into Nigeria in 1988 – when Nigeria was still under military rule – Tolaram has invested more than $350 million to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, developed a logistics company, and built infrastructure including electricity and sewage and water treatment facilities. Tolaram has also built educational institutions, funded community organization programs, and provided millions of dollars in tax revenues. Without overstating it, Indomie noodles is development.
Tolaram has shown that out of very little, a market can be created—and with the birth of a market comes the benefits that can lead to development.
Indomie noodles are so woven into Nigerian society it might even surprise Nigerians to recall noodles are not among their traditional foods. The company’s growth track turns the conventional wisdom about development on its head in that, there was little attractive about investing in Nigeria when Tolaram decided to enter the country.
The year Tolaram began selling noodles in Nigeria, the country was far from an investment magnet: life expectancy for its 91 million people was 46 years; annual per capita income was barely $257 (approximately $535 today); fewer than one percent of the population owned a phone; only about half had access to safe water; just 37 percent had access to proper sanitation; a staggering 78 percent lived on less than $2 a day. But even in these dismal circumstances, brothers Haresh and Sajen Aswani saw the opportunity to feed a nation with an affordable and convenient product. For them, this represented an enormous market-creating opportunity.
Indomie noodles can be cooked in less than three minutes and, when combined with an egg, can be a nutritious, low-cost meal. But at the time, the vast majority of Nigerians had never eaten or even seen noodles. However, the Aswani brothers were convinced they could create a market in Nigeria because of the country’s growing and urbanizing population, and the convenience their product offered. Instead of focusing on Nigeria’s unfavorable demographics, they focused on developing a business model that would enable them to create a noodle market.
The decision to target the needs of average Nigerians who were very poor, compelled Tolaram to make long-term investments in the country. In 1995, Tolaram made the decision to shift noodle manufacture to Nigeria to better control its costs. To do so, Tolaram had to pull infrastructure such as electricity, waste management, and water treatment, into its operations.
Tolaram had to make these specific investments because the underlying infrastructure in Nigeria was either nonexistent or subpar. So Tolaram “pulled” them in instead, which created more opportunity for prosperity to begin flourishing. For example, when Tolaram pulls a recent graduate from a local university into its operations and provides employment and training for the new employee, it first, increases the productivity of its own operations and, by extension, that of the region. Second, it reduces unemployment and, as a result, indirectly reduces crime since people with jobs are less likely to engage in criminal activities to try to meet their basic needs.59 Third, it contributes additional income taxes and consumer spending. All of these things might have been core regional development objectives, but for the executives at Tolaram, they were just the natural result of operating their growing business.
Nigeria had virtually no thriving “formal” supermarket sector, and the path from factory to consumer contains many potential points of failure. So Tolaram’s managers chose to invest in a supermarket supply chain. This was by no means trivial as the supermarket supply chain investment required Tolaram to build an entire distribution and logistics business. This meant the company built distribution warehouses and storefronts, purchased hundreds of trucks for its fleet, and hired thousands of drivers who would drive into neighborhoods selling cartons of Indomie noodles to retailers in both independently-owned and Tolaram-owned stores.
The company now controls 92 percent of the supplies essential to manufacture Indomie noodles and operates 13 manufacturing plants in Nigeria.
Tolaram’s investments are paying off handsomely – and Nigeria is reaping significant developmental gains. Today the company sells more than 4.5 billion packs of noodles in Nigeria annually, making Nigerians the 11th largest consumers of instant noodles in the world. Tolaram directly employs more than 8,500 people, has created a value chain with 1,000 exclusive distributors and 600,000 retailers, and has revenue of almost $1 billion a year, all the while contributing tens of millions of dollars in taxes to the Nigerian government. Tolaram also created a logistics company that owns and operates more than 1,000 vehicles. The logistics company now serves both Tolaram and other Nigerian companies, with 65 percent of its revenues coming from external clients.
Tolaram’s investments in distribution may have seemed like overkill, but Tolaram’s executives knew they would never succeed if they couldn’t get the product into customers’ hands.
It’s through this process of making one’s product available, affordable, and therefore accessible, that innovators create the right solutions for new markets. A market-creating innovation then, isn’t simply a product or a service, it is the entire solution: the product or service coupled with a business model that is profitable to the firm.
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