The 5 Changemakers of Wharton Africa Business Forum 2016 #WABF24
Bringing together some of the finest minds with a passion for Africa, the 24th Annual Wharton Africa Business Forum (WABF24) explored the creation of measurable impact in Africa and redefining the possibilities and areas for success on the continent. How fitting then that the five WABF24 keynote speakers ran the gamut of entrepreneurship, politics, education and business with some creating impact at multiple intersections.
1. Ambassador Herman Cohen
Ambassador Herman Cohen has many accolades, but throughout his career the former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs has consistently worked towards Africa’s development. The optimism from the representative for African governments across the continent was evident. It is largely due to increasing investment in smaller companies and Africans investing in Africa – in themselves. As only 10% of African trade is intra-African however, he warned that there is still a strong need to do more to facilitate and encourage this dialogue between countries.
“We should look at Africa as an investment destination, no longer as a humanitarian destination”
2. Fred Swaniker
Fred Swaniker’s vision of African institutions that provide world-class standard education while situated on and serving the continent led him to leave his job at McKinsey and Company to pursue its development. To that end, he co-founded the African Leadership Group, which since 2008 has established the African Leadership Academy, the continent’s only pan-African high school, as well as the newly-formed African Leadership University (2013) which aims to train 3 million entrepreneurial, ethical leaders for Africa and the world by 2060.
“You should be going back to Africa because it’s the greatest opportunity of our lifetime”
3. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is a serial entrepreneur, who has merged his passions for African tech, education and finance to create ventures including Fora, Andela and, most recently, Flutterwave. A firm believer in jumping into opportunities with both feet, Iyinoluwa is a leader who chose not to travel the MBA route and provided a voice not oft-heard questioning its position in the entrepreneur’s journey.
“Are we running a continent of experiments, or are we trying to build something that lasts?”
4. Sacha Poignonnec
As co-CEO of Africa’s largest online retail platform, Sacha Poignonnec brought an interesting perspective as someone who had made the move ‘to’ Africa, as opposed to ‘back’. Jumia, previously known as Africa Internet Group (AIG), comprises a number of organisations whose primary aim is to accelerate the shift to online services in Africa. Despite his clear focus on tech, Sacha is a huge ambassador for supporting all the people in an organisation to ensure they are aligned with the vision and strategy. It is they who will ultimately determine the success or failure of a company.
“You can really fail if you bring on the wrong investors – do your due diligence”
5. Acha Leke
In the final keynote of WABF24, Acha Leke inspired the delegates to action. He spoke on the changes he has witnessed on the continent in his capacity as a consultant, as co-founder of the African Leadership Group and as a Cameroonian – the increase in countries granting visa-free intra-African travel from 5 to 15, for example. After explaining his own journey into the education space to serve the 50 million young Africans who leave school every year and compete for only 6 million university places, he challenged the room:
“As Africans we spend a lot of time complaining. My challenge to you is to pick a topic and do something about it.”
What Are We Doing at Movemeback?
At Movemeback, we are proud partners of the African Leadership Academy, African Leadership University, Jumia (including Nigeria and Kenya specifically) and Andela – organisations impacting the continent. Whether you are looking for African opportunities or collaboration with other Movemeback members, join us at Movemeback, the global members’ community connecting leaders, influencers and exceptional individuals.
Our thanks go to the Wharton Africa Student Association for hosting yet another impressive conference, bringing Africa-focused changemakers together in one room. If you missed out on WABF24 this year, ensure you discover the latest African-focused events on the Movemeback Events page. Until next year!