There was a time our forefathers would go out into forests for long days and nights to look for medicinal trees, herbs and shrubs. If they managed to survive the harsh climate and wild animals, these people would harvest the vital plants, bring them back home, pound them to prepare powders or solutions that would be used for healing purposes.
Unfortunately, these medicinal preparations would not last too long or reach far and wide thus required constant sourcing.
Many years later, many of us are now able to walk a few paces into a Pharmacy and purchase any type of medicine prepared in India, Europe or even right here in Kenya, thanks to innovation.
In years to come the envisioned access of affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all will become a reality especially with the support of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which has recently agreed to extend drug patent exemption for its Least Developed Countries (LDC’s).
These members will now be allowed to maintain maximum flexibility in their approach to patenting pharmaceutical products until at least 2033. This means LDC’s such as Kenya will now have the necessary legal certainty to procure or to produce generic medicines for those who need it most but do not have any access. See story here.
Opportunity identification in various fields such as the one presented in this pharmaceutical arena, is central to the entrepreneurship process, it involves the creative pursuit of ideas and the innovation process.
Whenever I listen to TED Talks from successful entrepreneurs, I am amazed at not only how simple their ideas seem to be but also how the individuals harnessed the capacity of that simple idea to meet the needs of many people and make massive financial gains while at it.
While opportunity recognition can lead to both personal and societal wealth. The search for a great idea is never easy.
Every entrepreneur must therefore go through the difficult creative process and merge it with systematic analysis to achieve success.
Here are a few ideas to help you seek out unique opportunities that will fill needs and wants and turn problems into opportunities.
1. Unexpected occurrences, for instance the unexpected success of Mpesa.
2. Unexpected tragedy, such as Tsunamis which caused a lot of devastation. Innovators can help people rebuild by providing prefabricated homes made from cheap, easily and locally available materials.
3. Incompatibilities, like shopping services for working mothers who don’t have time, or overnight package delivery.
4. Process needs, such as sugar-free products and Caffeine-free coffee.
5. Industry and market changes, for instance in the Health care industry, more people are demanding personalized and home based health care.
6. Demographic changes, such as providing job search platforms for the majority unemployed youth or creating retirement centers for the growing older generation who aren’t being cared for by their busy children.
7. Perceptual changes, the growing concern for fitness for instance, has increased the demand for exercise (aerobics) centers.
8. Knowledge-based concepts, such as mobile banking technology, robotics to aid in agriculture, localized scientific research in the pharmaceutical industry to aid production marketing and distribution of low cost original and generic drugs, computerized reminders for patients to take the right amount of medication at the right time, and providing fast and reliable delivery of prescriptions wherever the patient is.