- Who We Are
- Corporate Responsibility
- Our History
Who We Are
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 approaches to achieve clarity for decision-makers.
We work across various domains.
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.
Many of our clients have worked with us for more than a decade.
Corporate. We have worked with many of the largest business corporations in Africa, India and the Middle East. This has resulted in deep experience in sectors such as telecommunications, energy, banking, capital markets, broadcasting and media, retailing and manufacturing. In 2015 alone we worked with corporate clients in more than 20 countries. Fifteen of the top 20 listed firms on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange use our services as do all the large law firms in South Africa.
Government. Genesis counts a large number of African public sector entities as direct clients. We advise presidencies, ministers and cabinet committees, line departments, monitoring and evaluation units, regulators, state-owned enterprises and ad hoc policy-making processes. Our principal competitors in development tend to work largely for development agencies and therefore only indirectly for governments in the region. Our direct experience with governments builds context, respect and trust with government counterparts, which puts the donor-funded work we do on a strong footing.
Foundations and development agencies. Genesis provides sophisticated contracting, design, implementation and evaluation capabilities. Our clients for these services include the major bilateral and multilateral agencies and their prime contractors. We cover the following development sectors in depth: agriculture, infrastructure, financial systems and health.
Some of the most impactful work we have done has been with foundations. Quick response times, a long-term perspective and partnership approach have allowed for creative work, especially in health, financial inclusion and youth employment. Foundation work often starts with evaluation mandates, but we also provide other strategic services to foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the MasterCard Foundation.
Genesis operates mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and India, with a growing reach in Europe and North America. With core offices in Johannesburg and Nairobi, Africa is our most important geography. We also have offices in London and Dubai, and representatives in Lagos, New Delhi and Toronto.
We have been working in the Middle East since 2005. The focus in this region is on financial services, and our clients have included Arab Financial Services, Arab Banking Corporation, Amlak International, Bank Muscat, Dubai Islamic Bank and Samba Bank. The Dubai operation is headed by Richard Ketley.
The Nairobi office opened in 2015 and the focus of the business there is on financial services, development (infrastructure, monitoring and evaluation, health and agribusiness), competition and regulation.
We opened an office in London in 2019.
Our Toronto operation services our large donor and foundation clients in North America.
As a firm with its roots in South Africa, we have an important role to play in building our country as well as in redress. We believe that our work itself is a contribution to that process.
In addition, we have a commitment to growing and developing the corps of black South African economists both inside and outside the firm. The principal channels for doing this are the Genesis Educational Foundation and the firm’s ongoing commitment to employment equity and empowerment in its South African operations.
As half of our work is now in African countries other than South Africa, the transformation vision of Genesis is:
We aim to reflect the diversity of the societies in which we operate. We aspire to be open, inclusive, compassionate and respectful. Different perspectives and approaches help us to unlock value. This is our transformation vision:
Employment equity and empowerment
Genesis therefore seeks to recruit, retain, develop and promote exceptional people from all groups and backgrounds: to do so, we are building a work environment that is demanding yet supportive, stimulating and fun, and financially rewarding. The Genesis Transformation and Employment Equity Committee monitors and addresses barriers and developing the firm’s employment equity programme in that context.
We subscribe to the principles of broad-based black economic empowerment (B-B BEE), and is an audited level four (4) contributor under the revised codes gazetted on 11 October 2013.
In line with this, we work closely with our network of black-owned suppliers to provide business support and advice. We have preferential procurement policies, which ensure that we support emerging black-owned SMEs.
Genesis is committed to the implementation of employment equity as detailed and defined in the Employment Equity Act (No 55 of 1998). It does not discriminate unfairly, either directly or indirectly, against any employee on the grounds of race, gender, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, culture, language, birth, HIV status, family responsibility or any other arbitrary criterion.
The Genesis Educational Foundation
The Genesis Educational Foundation is a trust that was formed in 2006 and which owns 20% of Genesis Analytics. It is dedicated to producing high-calibre South African economists and provides final-year and postgraduate bursaries to previously disadvantaged students who wish to pursue a career in economics. Many bursary recipients are offered employment at Genesis after successful completion of their studies. To date the trust awarded more than R2.5-million in bursaries to 63 students.
Social support and investment
Some examples of projects that have recently been undertaken or are underway include:
Helping Corruption Watch
To enhance Corruption Watch's effectiveness and accountability, Genesis and CW developed a new monitoring and evaluation framework. The framework enables CW to measure the change brought about by its interventions, assess whether it is achieving its objectives and promote a learning culture within the organisation.
Fight against dune mining on Wild Coast
Genesis provides free expert economic advice to the Xolobeni community, via the Legal Resources Centre, in their battle to prevent titanium dune mining in their area. The issue has received a lot of media attention after the chairman of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, was assassinated outside his house early in 2016.
Monitoring system for Hantam Comminity Education Trust (HCET)
Genesis is working to help set up an information and monitoring system for the HCET. The trust helps children of mainly farm workers in the Colesberg district of the Northern Cape in attaining education and a higher quality of life. This exercise will be used to inform the design of a simple monitoring and evaluation framework which the HCET puts in place to simply and routinely monitor its progress.
SaveAct helps informal savings and credit groups to run better while at the same time provide members with life skills and enterprise training. A Genesis team worked with SaveAct to help savings groups reduce liquidity risk, collated and analysed SaveAct’s data and developed products to help SaveAct members graduate to the formal financial sector.
Working with Credit Ombud
Genesis is working with the Credit Ombud to design surveys and conduct data analysis to test the impact that its financial education programme is having on its members. Thus far, data collection has not been properly structured. Once achieved, it will provide the Ombud with the ability to measure and capture changes in its target audience’s knowledge and attitude to financial concepts, which are vital in ensuring equal and fair inclusion of individuals into the financial system.
Youth workshop on finanical planning
Genesis in Society hosted a financial education workshop for youth in KZN in 2017. The key messages included Needs & Wants, Budgeting, and Savings.
G:SOC project was motivated to run the project because South Africa has some of the worst statistics of both individual and household saving. Many people depend on debt to meet their needs (and wants!). With the country’s debt/GDP almost at 50%, individual decisions about finances is one of the first steps that needs to be taken.
Our Evaluation for Development practice has evaluated many financial education programmes and this wealth of knowledge was used at the workshop at the Presbyterian Church in Escourt. We challenged the youth to think more critically about how to manage their income and expenditure. The church leadership and youth expressed their appreciation for the valuable workshop.
Charities we have supported include:
Olico provides young people in one of the most impoverished parts of Johannesburg, Diepsloot, with mathematics and language tutoring so that they can gain the skills and qualifications to join the formal economy.
Oliver’s House is based in Benoni on the East Rand and focuses on early childhood education and community development.
Hannah's House looks after 15 children between the ages 0-17 year, eight of whom are HIV+ and one is disabled. The children were either abandoned due to the mother being destitute or a teen mother who could not cope alone. They used to sleep in three shacks in Alexandra and during the day played at a house in Kelvin. Genesis is assisting by paying rent for three rooms in the Kelvin house so the children are now safe in one place. Hannah's House is not state funded so is reliant on funding for food, clothing and medication for the children.
The Same Foundation aims to improve healthcare and educational facilities in poverty stricken communities where there is no short- to medium-term government budget for improvements.
Siyakhula Education Centre
Siyakhula offers high-quality, low-cost computer literacy training. The centre’s goal is to eliminate computer illiteracy in South Africa.
Society for Animals in Distress
The Society for Animals in Distress provides a holistic approach to animal welfare by protecting animals, healing them, fighting cruelty and empowering others to do the same.
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 12 partners and more than a hundred full-time staff.