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Accelerating the new economy

AUTHOR: Michael Weatherhead, International Director, NEF Consulting.

What is the best way to affect change?   The New Economy Accelerator (NEA) programme believes it is to support spaces for radical experimentation. This experimentation is crucial to proving there are alternative ways the economy can meet society’s needs within ecological boundaries.

NEF originally conceived a programme to establish hubs of new economic thinking and action in India and South Africa. The South African programme has, since its initial mapping of new economic thinking and action, taken off to develop into the highly innovative New Economy Accelerator CoLab and WE-Africa network.

I have the pleasure and privilege to support these initiatives from NEF and NEF Consulting’s base in Cape Town.

The NEA CoLab kicked off in October with a one-year intensive coaching and support programme for ten outstanding entrepreneurs. Each entrepreneur contributing, in their own way, to meeting society’s needs while operating within planetary boundaries.

I have worked with the entrepreneurs up close, delivering the programme’s first two learning modules. The first module introduced them to new economy principles, sourced from NEF, and the second introduced impact measurement, sourced from NEF Consulting.

Through these modules, I learned much about the barriers faced when operating in an environment that does not recognise the added value created through full consideration of the social and environmental consequences of actions. But I also learned how these entrepreneurs have thrived by overcoming these hurdles through intelligent design of  their organisations e. The programme’s job is to help them accelerate and grow their impact.

The WE-Africa network kicked off in June with a coming together of academics, activists and academic activists from across the continent. They gathered in Pretoria to help establish the direction and how they want the Network to function.

With a plan to consolidate evidence for change while focusing on building a new economy and promoting alternative development policies, the network has already secured funding for PhDs and post-docs to support its wellbeing economy programme. It is also becoming the voice, in  the South African media, for  alternative pathways to genuine prosperity.

Much is made of the ‘Africa Rising’ tag bestowed on the continent by the Economist two years ago. However, scratch below the top line numbers and you see that the old-fashioned model of growth-dominated economics is not helping Africa to thrive. The WE-Africa network is a concerted effort to put an economy that focuses on wellbeing of society and the planet, squarely at the heart of decision making.

As offshoots of an original idea from NEF, the NEA CoLab and WE-Africa network are both great examples of how NEF acts as a catalyst on the journey to a new economy.