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About Genesis Analytics
Our purpose is to unlock value in Africa. We use our analytical capabilities to improve decision-making and, through better decisions, to unlock substantial value for our clients and society. While we are the largest economics-based consulting firm in Africa, we use a large number of techniques and ... read moreapproaches to achieve clarity for decision-makers.
We work across various domains.
Early specialisations were competition and regulatory economics, and then financial services strategy.
Since then we have added: agriculture and agribusiness, applied behavioural economics, infrastructure, health, monitoring and evaluation and shared value. We often combine our areas of expertise to craft services that recognise the multifaceted nature of our clients’ challenges and opportunities.
How does our work unlock value?
How our work unlocks value depends on the challenge posed. We do it by figuring out the mobile entry strategy for a bank operating in a fast-growing market. By equipping a regulator with litigation-proof analysis to reduce mobile-phone termination rates, saving low-income consumers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. By devising a horticulture strategy for a large East African country that can create a hundred thousand jobs. By demonstrating how a climate-resilient water scheme can be restructured to serve thousands more households in needier areas.
Four convictions that infuse our work:
A focus on analytical strength. While economics is a core tool, we apply many other tools - financial, strategic and evaluative - to improve decisions and unlock value. We do this across a wide range of sectors and services, as is evident from the site. We pride ourselves on the quality of our analysis. Every professional in Genesis is equipped and indeed required to wield our analytical tools with rigour, imagination and - when called for - courage.
At home in both the private and public sectors - and especially where they meet. At Genesis, the same teams service both the corporate and the public sectors. Experience in the one, we believe, enriches our work in the other. As a result of this cross-learning, we are often asked to work in the zone where the market meets the state. One example is helping a financial services firm build competitive advantage in a harsh new regulatory environment. Another is devising a donor-funded intervention to enable catfish farmers in the Niger Delta to service their markets more effectively.
Ethics above expedience. The zone where the state meets the market is crowded with many actors, from the ethical to the expedient. We work hard to earn and maintain a reputation for rigour, ethics and fairness. We are also dedicated to improving the system we work and live in. These convictions add to our effectiveness for clients, as what we do and say is taken seriously by state and non-state entities alike. When we err, we own up to it and act swiftly to recover lost ground for our client.
A focus on the decision and how it is made. We aim to improve a wide range of decisions ranging from a regulatory process in a multi-billion-dollar industry to the nutrition decisions of a young woman in rural Rwanda. In all these cases there is much to understand about the decision-makers: their assumptions, their priorities, their constraints, their blind spots, their language, their way of thought. The better we understand the decision context, the more effective our advice.
Once a decision has been made, the real work begins. The decision needs to be communicated and coalitions for change built. Our work gathers the evidence, crafts the insights and anticipates likely objections to ease the next stages of communication, persuasion and implementation. We increasingly assist in implementation.
A brief history
Stephan Malherbe founded Genesis Analytics in February 1998 with a staff of two in a 59 square-metre office in the Johannesburg suburb of Blairgowrie. The firm was the first specialist microeconomics consultancy in South Africa, microeconomics being the study of product, labour and capital markets.
The word 'genesis’ is derived from the ancient Greek word, which means to be born. Despite the strong biblical associations today, the word entered the English language only in the 17th century via Latin. Stephan called the firm Genesis because it was founded at a time of two beginnings: a rebirth for South Africa -just four years into democracy - and a new phase of growth for Africa. The hope was that the firm, small as it was, would be able to apply economic logic and would therefore be a catalyst for further growth and expansion in the region.
Making a positive impact
From the start, Genesis was an avowedly for-profit firm with the purpose of making a positive impact in South Africa. The idea was to use the disciplines of a business and an ability to reinvest earnings in order to work effectively in areas that have traditionally been the preserve of government or non-profit organisations.
Due to a combination of skills and circumstance, the firm’s work from the beginning has tended to be where the state meets the market and to this day state/market interface remains an important focus. Our earliest projects included developing strategies to increase investment, designing policy for a financial centre in Africa, and undertaking detailed work on a competition policy regime for South Africa. An important early project involved drafting a key report for the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) on the causes and implications of the 1998 emerging-market financial crisis.
Work in public and private sectors
Another early feature was a roster of clients split fairly equally between the public and private sectors. This is still the case today, and is embodied in our methodology of using the same teams for both public and private work. We believe that understanding the one sector enables Genesis to better advise the other. While this approach has proven to be beneficial for both corporate and government clients, it has also necessitated absolute clarity and consistency on ethics and conflicts of interest. This, too, has become a cornerstone of our ongoing approach.
Stephan was joined by banking and financial specialist Richard Ketley in 2003 and industrial organisation and trade specialist James Hodge in 2005. Their arrival led to the launch of our financial services strategy and competition and regulatory practice areas. Another prominent early director, who joined in 2002, was Hennie Bester. He built up the firm’s capabilities in financial inclusion and is today a prominent independent consultant in financial inclusion and development strategy.
Largest economics-based firm in the region
Within six years, Genesis had become the largest firm of its kind in the region, which it remains to this day. Its growth reflected the versatility of economic tools for understanding commercial, societal and political dynamics.
As a result, Genesis has become proficient in an ever larger number of domains. To our start in policy design we added financial deepening and inclusion, bank strategy, competition economics, utilities regulation, challenge fund design, development programme evaluation, infrastructure strategy and evaluation, programme design, behavioural economics and stakeholder strategy.
In the last three years, practice areas and teams have been established in infrastructure, agriculture and agribusiness, energy, health and behavioural economics. In 2015, a large team was split off from other development work to focus on monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and this is one of the most rapidly expanding and internationally active areas of the firm.
With its roots still firmly in South Africa, Genesis has rapidly internationalised in recent years. Approximately half of our revenue is generated outside South Africa and this proportion is increasing steadily. The African specialists operating out of the Johannesburg and Nairobi offices offer expertise in competition, regulation development and finance that we believe is unparalleled in the region. The firm is intent on building a cadre of African professional expertise that matches and exceeds international benchmarks of quality.
Educational fund for black economists
We are also proud of our South African roots. We have been a direct beneficiary of South Africa’s democratisation and of the historic compact that accompanied it. More than a decade ago, we therefore donated a 20% ownership stake in our South African operation (then the only one) to a purpose-created foundation in order to fund the education of black South African economists. Including current students, the foundation has funded graduate studies for more than 30 specialists in the field. Alumni of this programme have filled senior positions in the National Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the Competition Commission, among others. Many alumni have also worked for, or continue to work for, Genesis on a number of different teams.
Although Genesis is no longer solely an economics firm, we still employ many economists and work extensively in the area. Our economics roots have therefore formed our identity. Clarity of thought, analytical rigour, an evidence-driven approach, a thirst for getting to the truth of the matter: these parts of our DNA come from our grounding in economics.
The firm, which is still jointly owned by the founding partners and the foundation, has grown to include 15 partners and more than a hundred full-time staff