The demand follows the rapid and sustained growth of the fintech sector in East Africa, in particular in Kenya.
A sharp rise in demand for skilled leaders to fill positions has seen companies looking globally – and to South Africa specifically – in their talent search.
“Because of the limited supply of leaders who have a strong technical background in fintech disciplines including data science, analytics and data engineering, but who also have experience working in Africa, South Africa is considered to be a great pool from which to fish when filling these roles,” said Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, Chief Executive Officer of continental search firm, Jack Hammer.
Goodman-Bhyat said there was tremendous opportunity and growth in East Africa because of the development of a unique eco-system primarily leveraged by mobile money services such as MPesa.
These services are highly advanced in the region because challenges in the formal banking sector led to the development of services allowing for money to be transferred through alternative channels.
“As a result, demand for capable leaders in this market now outstrips supply. Our multinational clients in Kenya are clear that while there is an impressive market of data engineers in Nairobi at junior-to-mid level, finding senior leaders in this field is a major challenge.”
That means that companies are looking outside of the region – to locals who are currently abroad, as well as executives willing to relocate from around the globe, including from New York, San Francisco, Berlin, France, and other tech hubs.
Because of the challenges associated with relocating, such as cost and an understanding of local contexts, South African professionals are in high demand.
Of key importance, in addition to technical capacity, is the need for leaders to have regional and cultural experience.
The growth of fintech in East Africa is riding on the development of the financial technology value chain, giving rise to a massive new industry all on its own.
At this stage, the continued delivery of good quality products and services relies on companies and their leaders gaining and leveraging strong market insights and business intelligence.
“And this is why access to high quality data is the new gold,” Goodman-Bhyat said.
There is thus a search for established leaders in the data science and credit risk analytics space, who can adapt their knowledge into new markets.
“Companies want people with the ability to establish – not just manage – responses to challenges and opportunities unique to emerging markets,” Goodman-Bhyat concluded.
– CAJ News