Today we have a guest article by Kyomi Wade over at Business Because discussion the opportunities in Africa, one of the few remaining relatively untapped developing markets. I found it to be a pretty interesting read and very informative. I hope you all feel the same!
With foreign investment in Sub-Saharan Africa close to a historic peak, and banks and venture capital firms opening more offices there, Africa provides great opportunities for finance professionals willing to do things a bit differently.
In 2011, Foreign Direct Investment inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa hit $37 billion per annum according to UNCTAD, the UN agency which tracks global trade data. The IMF predicts that seven of the ten fastest growing economies over the five-year period to 2015 are inAfrica. They includeEthiopia,NigeriaandMozambique.
According to Mo Ibrahim, the continent’s most feted billionaire, and Chairman of Satya Capital, an investment firm focused onAfrica: “If you really want to make money you have to be there.”
So what does that mean for a finance student? Well, it’s worth getting involved in ‘Africa Business’ clubs at your business school to help gain insight into some of the challenges of operating in this potential gold-mine territory.
At BusinessBecause we recently interviewed the outgoing chairman of the Chicago Booth ‘Africa Business Group, Kurt Davis. Chicago Booth was ranked the top business school in the world in the recent Economist MBA rankings.
After completing the Chicago Booth MBA this summer, US-born Kurt took up a role with a private equity firm based inAddis Ababa,Ethiopia. “It’s tougher to carry out due diligence on companies in Sub-Saharan Africa than in theUSandEurope, so it’s important to build personal relationships with the people running firms,” he said. “Familiarizing yourself with the local culture ofAfricais a good way to build relationships”.
Just a few months ago, INSEAD’s Africa Club hosted its first annual Business in Africa Conference. Host Kemi Tijani claimed that despite the challenges “business can still be done” on the continent. From a Finance perspective opportunities are definitely present withinAfrica. Speakers included senior managers from firms such as private equity funds Actis, PAI Partners, and AMETHIS Finance. Luc Rigouzzo, the Managing Partner at AMETHIS said his firm prides itself on its business inAfricaand recruits people with exposure toAfrica.
A word on gaining a foothold in the job market: advanced business and finance degrees are looked upon favourably. We recently asked Daniel Orugun, MD of theLiberiabusiness of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB). GTB isWest Africa’s biggest bank and has been the subject of aHarvardBusinessSchoolcase study.
Orugun explained why MBA degrees are valued within GTB: “An MBA gives you the opportunity to understand the intricacies of banking and this translates to the quality of your output and the pace of your career growth.”
Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) is a private sector-led investment bank and development finance institution created to help mobilize and channel required capital towards drivingAfrica’s economic development. On its website, the company says it’s keen to hire people from overseas as well as fromAfrica, which could be a great opportunity for graduates ofUSfinance programmes!
Barclays Capital also promotes opportunities to work in Africa. In the “Meet Our People” section on their website they show testimonies from people in each of the African countries where they operate, from Kenya to Botswana, in disciplines ranging from Corporate Banking to Treasury.
Kyomi Wade is a journalist at BusinessBecause.com, a professional network for the business school world. On BusinessBecause you can connect with business students, research programmes at top business schools and read daily stories about life at b-school and MBA jobs. You can also connect with officers and members of MBA Clubs, including the Chicago Africa Business Group!