The Harvard Africa Business Club will be hosting its Annual Africa Business Conference-“Africa Inc. -A New Frontier for Business”-on March 8-9th. Started only four years ago, the conference has gained a reputation in Africa and abroad, as a premier event for delving into the multifaceted challenges and opportunities of African business. As an exciting addition, Angelique Kidjo – internationally celebrated vocalist who has toured with the Dave Matthews Band and Macy Gray – will be performing at Burden Auditorium on Friday. An ethnically African Banquet will be held the following day at the Spangler Williams Room.
This year’s conference is especially ambitious, effectively blending business and public policy. The conference will address issues ranging from the global shift to an information-based economy and the implications for Africa, to the formation of an African Union and its promise to give African markets greater relevance. Finally, attendees will examine the continent-wide trend towards privatization and the growth in business and investment that will undoubtedly follow.
Leaders of some of Africa’s most successful and innovative companies will discuss what it is like to start and grow companies in the context of poor public infrastructure, endemic corruption, and human resources challenges such as prevalent illiteracy and high HIV infection rates. They will also touch upon on how they have used their companies as vehicles to rectify these problems and bring business and government together in productive partnerships: building local community infrastructure and capacity and pushing for greater transparency in business and government. They will also share their experiences, having triumphed in some of the more difficult economic climates in the world.
Keynote speakers include Hakeem Belo-Osagie (Chairman of United Bank of Africa and HBS ’82), Geoff Rothschild (former Chairman of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, South Africa) and Frank Savage (Founder and CEO, Savage Holdings and former Chairman of Alliance Capital International, USA). Last year’s conference, “Entrepreneurial Ventures in Africa – Creating, Growing, and Running the African Company,” focused on entrepreneurial opportunities and the economic initiatives required to encourage entrepreneurship and to offer guidance to entrepreneurs. The Conference brought together 800 students and alumni from Harvard and other universities as well as business leaders working in the United States, Europe and Africa.
The Africa Business Club invites the entire HBS community to attend and share in what promises to be an exciting and thought-provoking conference that celebrates Africa’s culture and brings together individuals that will lay the foundation for its future. More details can be found at www.hbsafricaconference.org