Africa: Stanford University to Explore Entrepreneurship and Development in Continent

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Saturday, January 29th, Stanford University will host its fifth annual Stanford Africa Forum. This year the conference will explore Entrepreneurship and Development in Africa.

The topic of entrepreneurship is particularly relevant to Africa. In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion in the development community that socioeconomic advancement is better achieved through business (entrepreneurship and social enterprise) than through traditional aid. Many iterations of this concept are now being executed on the African continent – from the Acumen Fund (a social enterprise private equity fund) to the policies of Rwanda (which in less than a decade has evolved from a war-torn country into a middle income country).

Many companies, analysts, politicians and others are predicting that Africa will be the driver of world economic growth over the next two decades. From McKinsey to Time Magazine to Prime Minister Tony Blair to the World Bank, there is a lot of focus, energy and billions of dollars pouring into Africa – and not only in the traditional aid model but investing in business. Multinational companies and private equity firms (especially from Europe and South Africa) are investing in banking, telecommunications, infrastructure, agri-business and consumer goods, beyond the common resource plays. McKinsey’s June 2010 report states, “The rate of return on foreign investment is higher in Africa than in any other developing region. Global executives and investors must pay heed.”

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