My Highlights from Made in Africa – LBS Africa Business Summit 2017
Upon hearing about Made in Africa, the LBS Africa Business Summit 2017, I knew this would be a great opportunity as a newbie entrepreneur of a new fashion and tech start-up to learn, network and get exposure to great and like-minded people, so I was not disappointed.
Africa, or as I like to refer to it “The Sleeping Giant”, is waking from its slumber.
Businesses, entrepreneurs and many global companies are beginning to see the continent’s great potential and what it can bring to the table of global trade and innovation. Hence gatherings such as the Made in Africa – LBS Africa Business Summit 2017 are important.
What was most striking about the Summit was the sheer number of Africans, like myself, who could see the great possibilities the 54 country continent has to offer, not just for ourselves and future generations, but the wider world.
A key question posed at LBS Africa was, “How can we invest in the continent to take it to the next level?” There are challenges – and many of the speakers touched on this – including infrastructure, logistics, energy/power, skills, lack of government support just to name a few. Yet, besides all these challenges, evidence suggests that companies continue to thrive and grow on the continent. Some of the solutions offered to these challenges included innovation, entrepreneurship, vision and many more.
A segment of the summit which I enjoyed was when Jonathan Rosenthal (The Economist, Africa Editor), moderator for the event, asked some of the keynote speakers a hypothetical question: “If you had £1 million or £10 million to invest in Africa, which sectors would you invest it in?”.
“How can we invest in the continent to take it to the next level?”
Mr Segun Agbaje (Guaranty Trust Bank, CEO and Managing Director) said he would consider investing in the garments industry, food processing plants and shared services facilities. Dr George Elombi (Afrexim Bank EVP Governance, Legal and Corporate Services) stated he would consider investing in project development in Africa. Isabel dos Santos (Sonangol, Chairwoman) said she would consider investing in IT, while Jay Ireland (GE Africa, President and CEO) would consider investing in sustainable skills across Africa.
These are just some of the areas they believed would assist Africa in its development and change the way business would be done. We know there are many more sectors and ventures that can be invested in. The question is now, what areas can we invest in, be it time, resources or skills to make ripples of change which would ultimately lead to the tsunami wave of change we want in the coming years?
My business partners and I feel we can invest in Africa both at home and abroad through our African Fashion App AfriqOkin. AfriqOkin connects those who love African fashion with the artisans who can create the designs and styles they want wherever they are in the world.
African fashion is an industry that is creating jobs and growing rapidly, we should try not to “sleep on it”.
To conclude I would like to leave you with three quotes from the summit which have given me food for thought on this journey of creating a better Africa.
“I don’t look at the money, I look at the value created”
Mr Segun Agbaje (Guaranty Trust Bank plc, CEO and Managing Director).
What value can we bring to the continent? Not necessarily how much money can we make, but can we change lives with what we do?
“We need local solutions for local problems”
Charlene Chen (BitPesa, Chief operating Officer)
The solutions to Africa lies in Africans: Africans both home and abroad need to collaborate to bring the much-needed solutions to the problems we have.
“I think Africa is great now”
Jay Ireland (GE Africa, President and CEO), when asked how can we make Africa great?
I also think we are great now, but sometimes for greatness to be fully realised it needs something to wake it up!
Written by Tobi Sogbanmu (Movemeback Ambassador and Director of Afriq Okin)