The gut-brain axis: Psychobiotic opportunity in 25 countries

Deep dive into probiotics and brain health. Published March 2022. 
The Gut-Brain Axis (GBX) is a research concept that has moved into the mainstream consciousness via mostly probiotic supplement makers that offer to alter the microbiota via probiotic supplementation which benefits brain health in some way. The scientific base is small but developing clinically, growing fast and boosted by the broader surge in microbiome study across a range of nutritional interventions that include probiotics.

Lumina reveals the evolution of ‘psychobiotics’ in 25 e-commerce markets from the brands winning the most loyal consumer engagement (and how), to the most innovative markets to business-ready scans of the e-tail environment, science, suppliers, regulations that shape the markets.

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Crypto lending finding a foothold in Africa

On the surface the rise of crypto lending is a case of new technologies and methodologies powering up financial inclusion – of nimble start-ups filling a need unmet by legacy players lumbering under the weight of their own processes and structures. 

“The African markets have really been at the forefront of using simple, existing technology to solve complex financial inclusion challenges,” said Nathan Lynch, financial crime specialist for Thomson Reuters in the Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets and author of The Lucky Laundry.  

“We’ve seen with their innovative use of SMS and M-Pesa, for instance, that they can adopt really robust financial technology to solve the challenges of providing payment services.”

Crypto lending is another iteration of this phenomenon. 

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Saturated Fat: Nutritionists Press Authorities to Reconsider

As the nutrition science consensus shifts in favor of saturated fat after decades in the dietary sin bin over odious health links, dairy players say it’s time for full-fat segregation to end – especially as dairy under-consumption remains prevalent across the globe.

Armed with what they consider compelling dairy consumption statistics plus an ever-growing body of peer-reviewed research showing saturated fat is probably not – at least singularly – the agent of ailments like high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity it has been tagged with down the decades, the push to have full-fat dairy reinstated in national dietary guidelines is well and truly on.

‘Satfat’-friendly data is being presented to the committees that inform such guidelines while multi-channel dairy education campaigns aimed at consumers, regulators and the broader food industry are amplifying the full-fat dairy message and its potential to elevate across-the-board dairy consumption.

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Mbokodo: putting women first in South African construction

Thandeka Nombanjinji-Nzama has the cranes and concrete of construction in her blood. She might as well have been born in a hardhat. 

Her late father Ligwa Nombanjinji founded a construction firm in 1981, a business Nombanjinji-Nzama went on to successfully run for many years when Mr Nombanjinji became ill and her groomed-to-lead-the-business brother passed away, while still in her 20s.

That experience taught the PR and marketing-trained Nombanjinji-Nzama a lot about what it takes to run a big operation like Nombanjinji Family Property, but also instilled in her a burning desire to challenge what she considered an unhealthy male hegemony entrenched in the South African construction game. 

A 2018 survey by the country’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) found just 11% of sector professionals were women. About a quarter of the biggest construction firms are at least 51% or more female-owned; 34% are black owned. 

“When I got into the construction sector, I realised the immense patriarchal challenges and unsolicited red tape for females within the industry,” Nombanjinji-Nzama tells us. 

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How has Africa’s mobile money market adapted to the pandemic?

Photo by Derick Anies on Unsplash


Covid-19 led to widespread regulatory limits on mobile money transaction fees to boost financial inclusion through the pandemic. How have the controls impacted mobile money operators, which earn 80%+ of revenues from transaction fees? It looks like the controls are here to stay in some countries. In others, like Tanzania, Vodacom and Airtel successfully lobbied to remove a mobile money tax.

Africa’s two biggest mobile money markets – Kenya and Ghana – were early movers to scrap fees on mostly smaller transactions soon after the pandemic hit in early 2020. Other African nations soon followed with fee limits and mobile money tax relief.

Regulators and central banks in more than 20 African countries paused or reduced mobile money taxes while raising limits and imposing transaction fee restrictions or waivers on mobile service providers.

Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Rwanda, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Gambia, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Egypt, Morocco were just some of the countries to impose controls designed to empower millions of mostly person-to-person (P2P) and cash-to-wallet retail mobile money users at the height of the pandemic.

Eighteen months on, certain governments have reintroduced or increased mobile money taxes to help replenish pandemic hit coffers while some cross-border transfer fee caps persist.

The central bank-led measures have proven highly effective at boosting financial inclusion and are likely to remain in some countries for the foreseeable future. Initial negative attitudes by mobile money operators are slowly changing in some markets but are being reinforced in others.

More here.