The Power of the Informal Economy

by Jörgen Eriksson on July 19, 2015

Screenshot 2015-07-08 07.59.20Robert Neuwirth’s presentation at The Future of Places III conference which we published two weeks ago was very popular with the readers of this blog, so here is Neuwirth’s Ted Talk from 2012 with more thoughts about the power of the informal economy.

For those of us who have visited, the mere mention of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial centre, brings up images of booming economic activity, but also injustice, crime, corruption and motionless traffic. Car tires are burned to provide light during power outages and the bodies of people run over in car accidents can be left on the street for hours and commuters are sometimes caught in shoot-outs between robbers and policemen.

I remember some years ago, Richard Shaw and I arrived in Lagos for a series of meetings and could not find our local taxi driver at the airport, so we asked the French Embassy for support, and an French Government armored truck arrived and brought us to our hotel.

Yet, economic development is slowly trickling down to benefit also the poor people who acted with violence out of desperation. The informal economy, the last decade much enabled by mobile phones and internet, is growing and supporting families and slowly bringing prosperity also to the lower levels of Nigerian society.

Lagos is a lot better now than it was two decades ago. Robert Neuwirth spent four years among the chaotic stalls of street markets of the worlds urban slums, talking to pushcart hawkers and grey marketers, to study the world’s unlicensed economic network. Responsible for some 1.8 billion jobs, it’s an economy of underappreciated power and scope.

Robert Neuwirth Ted Talk about the Power of the Informal Economy

About Jörgen Eriksson :

Jörgen Eriksson is the founder of Bearing and is the Chairman of the firm since it was created. He has successfully expanded Bearing into covering projects on four continents. He is also Adjunct Professor of Innovation Management at the International University of Monaco and at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona and he is an active member of the Founders Alliance organisation.

Working with consulting engagements across Bearings practices, he has over the past fifteen years participated in and supervised a large number of client projects, from innovation system development and place development and branding, to merger and acquisition assignments and leading edge research and business development activities for key clients.

His new book, Branding for Hooligans, will be published in 2015. It is about how innovation and branding are key survival factors in our modern times of hyper competitive markets.

Prior to Bearing, he was Director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa for Trema Treasury Management, a technology and consulting services provider, supplying financial software solutions for the global financial industry, Clients included The European Central Bank, Citibank, SEB, South African reserve Bank, Deutsche Bank, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), as well as many other large financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies.

Early in his career Eriksson was educated at the Stockholm School of Economics, where he studied economics, financial economics and philosophy. He then worked in Scandinavian investment banks and also for the Swedish Institute of National Defense Research.

You can contact Jörgen on e-mail, connect on LinkedIn onörgen-eriksson/0/38/8a0/ and follow him on twitter on joreri508.

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