Tapping into sources of foreign demand has been critical to the economic success stories of developing countries worldwide over the past fifty years. This practice of linking the domestic labour force to sources of global demand, which are many times larger than the domestic economy, has traditionally been used for physical products. The export of natural resources, food and, above all, manufactured products has drawn a large number of workers into the production of these goods, resulting in a massive growth in employment and a significant reduction in poverty.

In recent years, however, employment opportunities resulting from the export of goods have been dwindling as production is being automated and value chains re-shored to more developed markets. Fortunately, this is being offset by a global explosion in the trade of digitised services. While these services are delivered digitally, they are provided by real people living in countries like South Africa. Referred to as globally traded services (GTS), they encompass both global business services (GBS) and business process outsourcing (BPO).

Harambee’s contribution to the development of the global business services sector in South Africa is a powerful and instructive story of inclusive growth and youth job creation. It is a story from which lessons can be learned, and essential elements distilled, for replicability to other sectors and ecosystems with unrealised potential for inclusive growth.

This document provides a toolkit for replicating this success in other sectors or markets by modelling Harambee’s approach to ecosystem facilitation and detailing a case study of this approach in the global business services sector.