Chioma Ukeje and Sharon Mazimba, MBA 2019, contributed this post on behalf of the Olin Africa Business Club.
Where can existing business leaders and Olin business students find a market of 1.1 billion people? Or a market that demands innovation in sustainable and affordable agriculture, support for a burgeoning middle class, and action to build new supply chains?
The Olin Africa Business Club will explore answers to these questions and more in its first ever Olin African Business Forum, scheduled for March 30. The morning and early afternoon event includes speakers such as Toyin Umesiri, CEO of Nazaru; Mark Taylor, dean of Olin Business School; Rob Dunlop, regional business director for Monsanto; Anne Toba, CEO and founder of Ripples Foundation; and Ade Osibamiro, Project Manager and consultant for Mastercard.
“Olin Africa Business Club is positioned to elevate and expose Africa’s potential to current and future business leaders,” said OABC President Ony Mgbeahurike, MBA 2019. “This event is a key step in that direction.”
Toyin Umesiri, our keynote speaker for the event, has previously worked in various leadership positions at Walmart is passionate about bridging the gap between companies here and businesses in Africa. She will center her talk around opportunities and the potential the continent has to play a major role in the business world.
We asked Toyin some of her thoughts on key questions relevant to the forum.
What do American leaders need to know about Africa that they do not know?
Africa is a continent whose history is rooted in commerce and not different from other parts of the world like India, Latin America and China. Africa has 1.1 billion people, a quarter of the number of countries in the world, and is home to some of the fastest growing economies.
By 2050, the population of Africa is projected to double and become one of the world’s largest youth workforces. There is a functioning and business side to Africa with a growing middle class on the rise to claim global significance in years to come.
To support this, there are a growing number of leaders working to develop sustainable and affordable food solutions, inclusive health, create new supply chains and build the infrastructure to support seamless movement of goods and services across the continent. With manufacturing steadily shifting from China to Africa, business leaders can no longer ignore Africa.
America leaders will need to develop an effective strategy towards Africa if they want to engage in the market positioned for rapid economic growth in the future.
What do students need to know about Africa and the opportunities there?
We have all read the stories and seen the images depicting Africa has a region of war, famine and diseases. What is missing from the narrative on Africa are the stories that capture the aspirations of Africans: Their triumphs and quest to build successful businesses with global relevance.
The future of Africa is being created by innovators, change agents, entrepreneurs, and global business leaders working hard every day to build solutions that will power Africa’s growing economy.
Technology advancement on the continent of Africa is driving the creation of disruptive solutions and we must develop future leaders who would see and understand where the “world” is going and not only where it has been so that they can help create the future.
What opportunities exist for business leaders in Africa?
Africa offers new markets for US-made products. Similarly, the United States serves as an untapped market for authentic African products—raw and manufactured. For leaders interested in export and import, sustainable agriculture, supply chain, and logistics, they need to start thinking about expanding into Africa.
The Olin Africa Business forum is scheduled for March 30, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Emerson Auditorium. In addition to Toyin’s talk, two panels are scheduled—one on agriculture technology and a second on leadership—featuring industry experts from companies such as Monsanto and Mastercard.
This forum promises to be exciting, informative, and will highlight the wealth of opportunities on the continent. Click here to get your tickets here now.