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Pragmatic Change-Making: Unleashing the Power of Shuhari for Sustainable Growth and Impact in Africa


At GrowZA, we're dedicated to fostering growth and development in Africa by partnering with think tank clients and executive teams to tackle pressing challenges. As a social investment agency, we pride ourselves on our innovative methods and dedication to results. One of our approaches is the application of the Shuhari principle in our work with clients.


This was the case with an industrial mining house we facilitated a social investment strategy build with. In this post, we want to share with you the principles of Shuhari and how we apply them to help teams achieve pragmatic systems outcomes and quadruple bottom-line benefits in the African development context.


Discovering the Power of Shuhari


Shuhari, a traditional Japanese concept from martial arts, is a transformative three-stage process that individuals undergo as they learn, master, and transcend their skills. The stages are as follows:

  1. Shu (守): The first stage involves learning and adhering to the rules and fundamentals set by a mentor or teacher. Students copy their mentor's techniques and develop a strong foundation in the field.

  2. Ha (破): The second stage involves breaking away from traditional norms and experimenting with new techniques. Individuals start to adapt what they have learned, integrating their personal style and experiences into their practice.

  3. Ri (離): The final stage, also known as "transcendence," is when individuals surpass their mentors and create their own unique approach. At this point, they no longer need guidance and can intuitively navigate complex situations.

Our Shuhari Approach in Action


At GrowZA, part of our process is the application of the Shuhari principle to executive teams working in the African development context. Here's how we do it:

  1. Shu: Laying the Foundations

  • Recognize proven expertise in and the subsequent mapping of the foundational principles of African business and market dynamics, drawing from the experiences of the team and logging successful case studies.

  • Mapping the teams' knowledge base and understanding of the local context, industry trends, customer preferences, and regulatory environment.

  • Evaluate the core business principles, such as value proposition, supply chain management, marketing, social investment approach and financial management.

  1. Ha: Challenging Conventional Wisdom

  • Catalyse executive teams to question traditional business practices and explore new strategies for growth and impact in the African context. See tools in the GrowZA innovation toolkit

  • Run thought experiment blending foundational knowledge with creativity and innovation to devise unique solutions tailored to the specific needs of African markets and communities.

  • Identify targets and opportunities for market disruption, social impact, and sustainable business practices.

  1. Ri: Transcending Traditional Approaches

  • Build the practice scaffolding to position executive teams as thought leaders and change-makers in their respective industries, leveraging their experience and expertise.

  • Investment commitment to transcend traditional business models and paradigms to fuel innovative, scalable, and impactful strategies that drive sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

  • Foster a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and adaptation, setting the stage for future growth and long-term success.


Quadruple Bottom-Line Impact


By embracing the Shuhari principle, we've witnessed our clients achieve remarkable quadruple bottom-line benefits. These benefits include:

  1. Social Impact: Improved living conditions, access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities for marginalized communities in Africa.

  2. Environmental Impact: Sustainable development practices that protect the environment and promote responsible resource management.

  3. Economic Impact: The creation of jobs, increased investment in local communities, and fostering entrepreneurship.

  4. Cultural Impact: Preservation and celebration of African cultures, while fostering cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.


The Shuhari principle has proven to be an effective approach for teams working in the African development context. By adhering to the Shuhari stages, GrowZA has led its think tank clients to achieve pragmatic systems outcomes and quadruple bottom-line benefits.


This approach has not only led to tangible results on the ground, but can also inspired a new wave of innovative and culturally-sensitive development strategies in Africa.


We're proud to be part of this journey and look forward to continuing to empower change-makers across the continent.


This is how we #GrowZA

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