The final day of ALN, brought calls to embrace politics, more lessons in banking & political leadership, an update on the status of the network, and appearances by 50Cent and African royal(think ‘Coming to America’)!
(Excerpts, not the full-day proceedings)
Needs and Leads (N&L): This was a mid-morning session for attendees to find tangible ways to collaborate with other ALN members. Each speaker had three minutes to talk about their work and their needs, without using slides or PowerPoint to make a connection. They included
- Mike of Fenix International said that they (in partnership with MTN) had developed a solar power set in Uganda, which small businesses could use to charge other batteries and devices for members in a community. It retails for ~$150 and can break-even for the owner/investor in about 6 months. They hope to scale up and introduce the device to millions of others in Rwanda and South Africa and are looking for entrepreneurs to distribute the devices.
- The second N&L speaker was from a private equity business in Johannesburg that has a team of over 400 programmers working on customer development & billing application software for the private sector, telecommunications companies, large SA banks, and the Government (SA’s revenue agency). They are seeking to grow in Kenya by finding leads into Kenyan businesses in software development, telecommunications and the government.
- Lindsay of Sanergy talked about the slum residents in Nairobi who don’t have access to sanitation. So her company builds toilets for them, collects sewage, and converts this to fertilizer and energy – making money as an independent power and fertilizer producer. There is great potential in this and she is seeking fertilizer distributors, Kenya government officials (in sanitation & standards) and micro-finance banks and institutions.
- Laila runs a property firm in Nairobi and is the Chairlady of the Kenya Property Developers Association, and focuses on urban development in cities. They have mobilized $25 million to develop middle-class properties, and with an IRR of 30% where they have exited – and they are seeking to mobilize $100 million as risk capital and mezzanine finance to develop low costs housing, budget hotels in East Africa, as well as senior private equity professionals, to become a partners & board members.
- Arjuna from the Omidyar Network, lives in Silicon Valley and, is looking for people who want to change lives in Africa to bring their ideas forward.
- Ann is working to establish meaningful social games for change and reach young people to work on projects around wealth and prosperity, and she is looking for experienced Africans in games design, and social innovation projects as well as partners, investors, and interns.
- Andy from USAID spoke about the overlap of needs and mutual interest between Africa and America and are they are seeking young people to engage with, and help them craft meaningful, impactful programs for Africa and be sounding boards of feedback.
- Joseph from Congo grew up in a refugee camp in Uganda with limited schooling & learning resources, and is now a graduate of the ALA. He, and other refugees, co-founded a youth organization – Coburwas which looks at the common needs of refugees which are common across and now wants to expand the education program and help kids finish school. By 2010 85 students, and 15 were completing A level, including 5 girls – the first ever to complete school from the camps. He needs mentors to advise on foundation decisions, and need $13,000 of funds to take 100 kids to high school for the next one. Within 10 minutes, another attendee (Colin Gayle of Bounce Back Media) got on the stage and told Joseph, that a benefactor (Curtis Jackson, a.k.a 50 Cent) had committed to funding the entire $13,000.
- Debbie of Aecom/Stanford Business School focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation in emerging markets, especially at the bottom of the pyramid, helping people to deal with poverty issues that can scale. They are seeking entrepreneurs (in Africa, Asia, and Latin America) who would want assistance from Stanford and are willing to do case studies for research
- Swaady from Cote d’Ivoire has set up a luxury tea company and is seeking customers, funders, and partners.
- Isis from inMobi spoke of the scalable potential for mobile advertising to the 500-600 million phone users in Africa as that will be the main way people access the net. She is seeking talented women to work at the company.
- Nuradin a former Somali refugee and now Dutch citizen is the MD of a company that distributes Massey Ferguson tractors in Africa. They plan to set up agriculture learning centers in Africa, on 100-hectare model farms to teach farmers how to use tractors and implements and he is looking for partner dealers in Africa.
- Monica has set up an agro-processing company working on alternative foods (non-Maize) for the larger populations and is seeking people to assist in branding, supply chain & distribution strategies.
- Nena of Blackbox noted that there is little research done on young women consumers in Nigeria, no one knows them, or how to market to them. So they want to do a study for women 0-18 what are they doing, needs, gaps in services, and data from this will be used for brands to do product development and governments to provide better service. They are seeking funding for the study, people interested in buying the study, and others who may wish to run similar studies in their own countries.
- Oliver from LGT Capital invests $200,000 – $1 million in expansion business models in education, health, resource management. They have invested in Bridge International an institution that is growing for-profit schools (now 38) in low-cost areas in Kenya at a student cost of $4 per month. They are primary investors but are looking for capital from Africa to invest, entrepreneurs with ventures, and partners who can bring expertise to the group.
- George of Angels Finance spoke of a project he’s developing in Uganda where people can donate a portion of their phone airtime to charities – and he is seeking mentors, a bank to be the trustee, and developers to put it on phones
- Brian (a co-founder of Seacom who recently stepped down) has founded Black Rhino which invests in infrastructure in Africa. He notes that such developments should have social inclusion, smart financing (governments should not put crippling liabilities on their balance sheet) and smarter (transformational) technology. They are seeking people with experience in social work, and environmental work, especially French-speaking ones.
- James of Dahlberg talked about the long history of philanthropy in Africa. They want to identify and celebrate champions of philanthropy across Africa, map out high givers of interest, create a platform for collaboration, and acknowledge their efforts.
- Arthur, the deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe, said that despite his background (McKinsey, MIT, Rhodes) he felt lonely as there were no other political leaders present. He urged ALN members to make sacrifices and take a plunge into politics, (become political gangsters) in order to be true continental leaders.
Don’t ignore Politics: This was underscored by another speaker Tutu Agyare who lamented that while most in the room were comfortable with big positions, or making money from foreign corporations, they had to take more risk to build their countries as they could do better jobs than the minister in our countries. Also, it was important to take more risks at a young age as you don’t have to be 70 years old to run an African country.
ALN Award The inaugural ALN Award was given to James Mwangi, the CEO of Equity Bank. He talked about the large price and sacrifices you have to make – like he did in 1992 when a mutual fund (Equity Building Society) in his village was about to be closed by the Central Bank (CBK) for insolvency (no funds, no trial balance for 3 years and other governance issues) and he was approached to intervene. He did, but the CBK Governor asked him to take over the society’s management as a condition to keep it going, and he foolishly did, going from a top bank job earning Kshs 400,000 to about Kshs 50,000, and with the added danger of losing his house which he had bought through the society.
He also talked about the need to have a belief in something like the society (now bank), not just an interest, to transform it from 2,000 to 7 million customers (more than the number of people who voted in Kenya’s presidential elections). Also, while success is not always celebrated, having a belief enables you to do things like persuading villagers to convert their society savings into investments in the society and they have been paid back to a point that the village Nyagatugu may be the richest rural village per capita in Africa.
He also mentioned the need to focus on innovation and use it to develop communities & societies. Equity is edging away from branch banking to mobile phones & agency banking model to a point that 40% of their transactions are being done by shopkeepers, as well as distribution of relief food funds in Kenya and they sell more policies than all insurance companies in Kenya. Also that next week, they will launch the first free transfer from the diaspora to the continent in partnership with MasterCard.
Talk from a King: The closing Keynote was given by King Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi II of the Royal Bafokeng Nation in South Africa.
Who’s the King? He’s a taxpayer, architect, and a trained pilot who’s worked with the SA air force and reads on culture & economies which helps him run a $4.5 billion fund. He said the issues that leaders face are universal, problems are generic and that prosperity is partly about finding the right formula, but mostly it’s about having the will to act and maintain a vision.
He spoke of the people of Bafokeng who migrated to their current homeland around the year 1450. Their then king forged a friendship with colonial leaders and noted the interest in their land and decided to obtain title to the land to avoid land grabs. Bafokeng citizens went to work in the Kimberly diamond mines, and portions of the money they earned was saved – and the King got help from a missionary who they asked to buy the land in his name and hold it in trust for the Bafokeng community.
Later in 1925, platinum was discovered under the land that the Bafokeng owned, and despite clashes over land rights with mining companies and the government, courts sided with the Bafokeng as genuine owners of their land. As such, they have derived income from mineral extraction for 60 – 70 years which has funded many of their expansion plans and brought wealth to the nation.
However they are aware of the resource curse and the challenges it brings such as population influx, crime, unmet expectation, social ills, complacency and corruption – for the nation of 150,000 people (in 29 villages) are something of an island of prosperity ($300 per month average income) in a sea of rural poverty.
The Kingdom has a Plan35, a detailed blueprint for the next quarter century (to 2035) and their portfolio is now 60% in mining, and 40% in property, communication oil gas – though holding firms, enterprises, education, and sports firms that ensure sustainability.
He was asked (and answered questions) about the supreme council of elected leaders who help run the state (are elected, and are now more representative with women and youth among them), welfare programs (dependence on the state), the need to develop entrepreneurship (a big challenge as there has not been an incentive to work for 70 years and some people have the mindset since everything is given to them) and communal land tenure (which is an obstacle to enabling people to obtain development loans).
State of the network: Acha Leke and Fred Swaniker spoke about ALN whose membership is now a mix of South Africa (25%), US/UK/Europe (17%) Nigeria (17%) Kenya (11%) and other countries but weak in Arab and Francophone Africa. It is also male, 28% female, and dominated by the private sector (heavily finance & consultancy) at 89%, and non-profits are 6%, against a goal of having 30% from the public sector.
In 2012 they will grow in the above areas that are missing, as it is not meant to be a business network, but a leadership one. They will target to have two events a month across Africa – regional gatherings, from which a lot of where membership tends to spring – next in Cairo, Dakar, Abidjan, and Luanda. Also, they will take a group of ALN leaders to visit China, and, after two years in Addis, Ethiopia, will have next year’s event at a new venue in Accra, Ghana.