Africapitalism Featured at AIB Academic Conference in Johannesburg



By David Rice

Last month, the sub-Saharan Africa chapter of the Academy of International Business (AIB) held their annual conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Africapitalism Institute was a sponsor, and I was invited to speak about Africapitalism, the economic philosophy developed by our Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, CON.

The AIB conference was hosted by the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), under the leadership of Dr. Lyal White, Director of GIBS’ Centre for Dynamic Markets, and Lagos Business School, which was also a sponsor of the event. Another key member of the organizing team was Dr. Adun Okupe, who is on of the co-investigators working on the Africapitalism Project at the University of Edinburgh along with Dr. Kenneth Amaeshi.

The purpose of AIB is to facilitate the exchange of ideas and networking amongst peers in academia, business and government with a view to fostering education and professional standards in the field of international business with a view to creating a repository of relevant education resources.   The theme of this year’s conference was “African Direct Investments:  Trends, Prospects, Challenges and Policy Issues.”  The papers and case studies presented during the conference ranged from intra-regional trade, the importance of cross-cultural training, digital media, the role of China, FDI in tourism, and local content and supplier development.


My first presentation was an overview of Africapitalism, which is the belief that Africa’s private sector must drive the continent’s broader economic development and social wealth creation.  To achieve this, Africapitalism is a call-to-action for businesses to make decisions that will increase economic and social wealth, and promote development in the communities and nations in which they operate.  (You can read more about Africapitalism here)

We argue that such a decision will ultimately help businesses become more profitable as the communities they serve become well-off consumers, healthy and better educated employees, and even entrepreneurs who go on to become suppliers and service providers.

The next presentation I gave provided a more in-depth perspective on how Africapitalism and entrepreneurship are intertwined, and included highlights from a recent report published by the Institute titled:  “Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs”.  (You can read the full report here)


Entrepreneurs are essential to Africa’s development – many of them are already running homegrown businesses based on deep insight into local consumer demand. They also spot unique gaps in the market for specific products and services, tap into strong local networks, and often create innovative and disruptive solutions to complex challenges.  (You can read more about “Africapitalism and Entrepreneurship” here)

The third presentation I gave was a brief overview of our draft “Principles of Africapitalism”.  The first draft of the principles was developed during a retreat with African scholars in Calabar, Nigeria.  The goal of these principles is to establish a set of business ethics that will be adhered to by African firms and global companies operating in Africa.  (You can read more about the retreat here)

At the closing dinner of the conference, the organizers announced the winners of the best paper and best teaching case awards in a variety of categories.  The team from GIBS’ Centre for Dynamic Markets, led by Dr. Lyal White, won the Tony Elumelu Foundation Africapitalism Award for the Best Teaching Case on Sustainable Business in Africa.  And the group from KU Leuven University in Belgium was selected as having the Best Competitive Paper, which was also sponsored by the Foundation.

One of the prizes the winners received were copies of the Foundation’s new book titled “Africans Investing in Africa”, which provides a series of in-depth case studies on African companies that are rapidly expanding across borders and becoming pan-African brands.  (You can read more about the book here)



The final event I participated in while in South Africa was sitting with some of the Johannesburg-based entrepreneurs in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).


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