“Causality implies correlation, but correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causality.” This is one of the countless fascinating things I learnt during my time with Laterite. Here’s a little study of this principle in action: In the US, per capita consumption of mozzarella cheese correlates a whopping 93.32% with money spent on live entertainment, yet eating more mozzarella does not make you spend more on concert tickets, despite the similar trends.
Now, I can almost hear you wondering why a sixteen-year-old is writing about cheese on a firm’s blog, so what is my point?
Well, if there are so many of these seemingly connected events, how can we know if they are actually connected? This is challenging enough in today’s ever-growing tech world, where misinformation is rife, but what about in lower-income countries where over 75% of the population live in rural areas, with limited access to mobile phones?
The remoteness and other challenges faced by rural populations makes it difficult to collect data of high quality, spot discrepancies and analyze trends and possible causal links. So what role does Laterite play in this, what are the company values and why are the countries of East Africa so significant?
My internship at Laterite was all about these questions, and to answer them I interviewed people from all the teams. Don’t stop reading because you definitely want to know what I’m about to tell you.
Arguably the most important aspect of the firm is Laterite’s emphasis on impactful research. To start, the team emphasized that Laterite selects its projects carefully working with many NGOs, universities, and other clients on impactful research.
Data is collected and analyzed carefully to be only of the highest quality, and is reported to clients, governments and city councils that can use these insights to inform their decisions. Laterite contributes to creating a link between clients and governments, and it gets better! Laterite’s teams are primarily based in East Africa, contributing to reinvesting in the countries, by putting a big focus on employing local talent.
Now, this is important, as my biggest surprise was not how impactful Laterite’s research is, but the impact it had on its employees. What do I mean by that? Well, to start, I asked everyone to walk me through one of their days in Laterite. Every single person responded that no day was the same. It all boils down to the fact that at Laterite, every day is a new adventure. The company intellectually challenges its employees on a daily basis, making the most of their education and exposing them to new skills, from coding to management. But what does that mean, you may ask? It means that every day, Laterite employees come into the office with an enthusiastic mindset that creates a sense of family within the company and an informal yet hard-working environment. Laterite incorporates all its employees’ strengths and although spread across five countries manages to keep everyone together.
My main takeaway though is not about Laterite, but about how much we can learn from the experience of the countries where Laterite works.
Just look at the country of Rwanda for example, one of the front runners in the efforts to promote gender equality. There are many misconceptions about Africa. I think people can learn a lot from these countries whether it’s more policy issues or just the sense of vibrant community support structures in place. Just because a country is of a higher income does not mean that it is better or that it cannot learn from others. Especially in our ever-changing world, all people need to be open to change and embracing the strengths of each country, something Laterite fully contributes to.
Naive of me? Maybe so, but this is my main takeaway from my short internship with Laterite, and I am looking forward to what the future holds for the company!
This post was contributed by Christos Kotzagiorgis, who joined Laterite for a two week secondary school internship in July 2021.