Private equity · Women Entrepreneurs

How are international investors and partners in Africa empowering women in Africa?

annette mahlangu --

March 5th, 2016

Are international investors investing in Africa to make a change or just to make more money?  What are they doing to improve the situation?
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Steven Wolk Principal, Strategic Investment Consulting

March 5th, 2016

If you mean private investors with limited partners, then they MUST make money. If they don't, they will soon be out of business and no money will go to Africa from them.

Consider what you will invest your extra money or retirement on so that you have enough to retire. Is it on someone who wants to do good work in Africa to improve the lot of the people there, without regard to making you more money or even keeping your principle? I doubt it. If you want that, then donate to an NGO. You want a return on your investment, and not just any return, you want to beat the market and minimize the risk. You won't invest in a do-gooder unless that do-gooder has found a way of doing well by doing good.

The nature of your question seems to imply that making money is bad. That is true at times, such as when jungles are cleared to plant oil palm trees or when indigenous people are displaced or when villages are ruined and populations are sickened when drilling for raw materials. But there are many times when investment can make money and improve things for people and some people are doing just that. Consider using solar panels to provide power to people or selling mobile phones so that people can do commerce and be in touch with what is happening in their country and the world.


Faisal Memon iOS Department Technical Lead at Citrix ShareFile Quick Edit

March 6th, 2016

Its a mixed picture.  In fact, making a change, and making money are orthogonal concepts.

In terms of empowering women, I know that there are micro-finance investments that are preferring woman as the intermediaries and mixing traditional risk models with social models.  Also, Africa is also seeing a uptick in banking innovation, to resolve structural issues.

We've seen in recent times the Chinese investing in raw commodities investments without regard for the social premise of the investment, and actually raising living standards and reducing poverty to a greater extent than UN missions to Africa.  Unfortunately the demand for such goods has peaked due to Chinese infrastructure now maturing.  China has however established a development bank mirroring the IMF.  There should be funds for promising deals notwithstanding suspicion of political motives.

Some investment is geared at 'change' but they tend to be NGO driven.  This is partly targeting political reform and to support countries that are in danger of becoming zones where militants and extremists could be embolden.

Reviewing the data, Africa is making great strides, and I welcome people to view Bill Gates' talks on the matter on youtube.

In my view, the record tells me its the hard-nosed decisions that the Chinese have made that resulted in the best outcome for ordinary Africans above socially motivated investments.  That's not to disparage those earnest efforts.  Its just how things have turned out.

Vikram Kulkarni DevOps Engineer Specializing in Scalability & Automation

March 6th, 2016

Companies that want to make money can bring about a real change too. History of free market capitalism over the last 300 years proves it. Nothing wrong with enlightened self-interest. The people you want to careful about are the ones who are telling you that they are doing everything for your benefit. That makes no sense at all.