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Rising Africa Series: Thought Leaders Africa

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A celebration of thought leaders, innovators, thinkers, problem solvers, and drivers of growth and development.


RISING NIGERIA

Sports have been recognized as a positive force in promoting education, health, development, and peace as acknowledged by the United Nations and reflected in its agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. 

Additionally, the economic impact of a vibrant sporting industry is significant.  In well-established markets throughout North America and Europe, sports have come to represent a billion-dollar business, generating tens of thousands of jobs, and tax revenues for local governments.  

The sports industry in Africa continues to grow and thrive.  The diversity of sports offerings range from football, rugby, and cricket to cycling, wrestling and basketball. Many of the continent’s professional athletes are quickly grabbing attention on the international stage.

AFA SPORTS Store, Lagos. Picture:Supplied

Mohamed Salah, Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, Dikembe Mutombo, Julius Yego, Daniel Teklehaimanot, and Merhawi Kudus have become well-known within their respective sports both within Africa and globally.

Nigerian-born Ugo Udezue, former successful NBA agent working in the US returned home to Nigeria to lend his experience and talents to Africa’s sports industry.  He was instrumental in creating the 10-team Continental Basketball League (CBL), which provided Udezue with a unique business opportunity in sports merchandising. 

AFA Sports, which means “Africa for Africa” stepped in to address the need Africa’s professional sports teams had for sports apparel and shoes.  

AFA Sports entered an arena dominated by global players such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok. 

However, AFA Sports did not shy away from the challenge and focused on creating a unique value proposition, one of creating sports apparel and shoes made in Africa, by Africans, for Africans while tapping into a growing African conscious market, as well as consumer associations outside Africa.


AFA SPORTS Store, Lagos. Picture:Supplied

AFA Sports is positioning its brand to be the premier sports brand company in Africa but has made it clear its ambitions do not stop there.  The company hopes to develop a global brand that appeals to mainstream sporting institutions in Europe, Asia, and North America.

AFA Sports products are currently sold through its flagship store in Victoria Island, Lagos and its website.  The company plans to open two additional stores in the near future. It also remains focused on promoting the continued development of various sports programs throughout Africa.


RISING GHANA

President Nana Akufo-Addo was peacefully elected and assumed office in 2017, and under his leadership, the Ghanaian government has taken steps to reduce corruption at the national level by appointing a special prosecutor, centralizing all government accounts into a single account with the central bank, and promising additional reform legislation.

Ghana’s GDP grew 8.5% in 2017, compared to 3.7% in the previous year.  While the services industry is a strong pillar of the country’s $43-billion economy, the oil and gas sector has driven recent growth.  The oil and gas sector, which represents over a quarter of the economy, increased 80% boosting the industry sector significantly. 

Akufo-Addo who has adopted the slogan “Ghana Beyond Aid,” is anxious to move Ghana from aid-dependency to trade to fuel the country’s economic growth.  Ghana is looking to build sustainable relationships of mutual benefit, and this approach appears to be working.  In 2017, GIPC set a target to attract US $5 billion in FDI inflows and by December had $4.91 billion.

Rex Danquah. Picture: Supplied

BETWAY GHANA PRIDES ITSELF ON GIVING BACK

Rex Danquah, Country Manager Betway Ghana

Betway has achieved tremendous heights in the sports betting industry with an overwhelming success rate, while focusing on sports development in Ghana. Betway has revolutionized the sports betting sector by digitalizing the process with solely online sports betting platforms. 

Betway aspires to be a household brand in sport betting providing a safe and secure online sports betting platform with the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that transactions are protected using the finest digital encryption technology.

As part of Betway’s continuous efforts to develop sports in Ghana, Betway currently sponsors four clubs with great history and performance in the Ghana Premier League.

As part of their goal to give back to society, many communities and individuals have benefitted from the Betway CSR Initiative, such as  Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital in Accra, Tanoso Health Clinic in Brong Ahafo and Himan Health Center in Prestea.

NIMED CAPITAL IS REDEFINING GHANA’S PRIVATE WEALTH BUSINESS

Nimed Capital  Ltd is an investment banking firm with a core focus on asset management services. We specialize in delivering fund management and advisory services that meet the needs of retail, institutional and high networth clients. Our investment decisions are backed by our strong knowledge and expertise in the domestic market.

Abena Bigridi, CEO Nimed Capital. Picture: Supplied

How do you see the investment landscape in Ghana?

Ghana is open for business and investments. The economy slowed down recently with the country recording a paltry GDP growth of 3.5% in 2016 due to several factors such as power shortages, high NPL’s of commercial banks etc. However, the turnaround has been very impressive with GDP rebounding to 7.9% in 2017 after resolving the challenges mentioned earlier.

What are the market opportunities and challenges and how is NIMED redefining the private wealth space?

Ghana has one of the lowest savings rate in the region, the country’s savings to GDP ratio is at 7.9% compared to 14.9% and 15.4% for Nigeria and Kenya in 2017. Ghanaians are entering into the prestigious HNWI class (High NetWorth Individuals), with the country recording a total of 2,900 HNWI’s in 2017 according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report. This provides enormous need for private wealth management services and collective investment scheme products (Mutual Funds & Unit Trust).  

The main challenge confronting the industry is the huge appetite for high returns without a commensurate ability to bear associated risk. This negatively influences our competitors to take risk that contradicts their clients Investment Policy Statement (IPS).

What makes us different is our strict adherence to our clients’ IPS risk return objectives. Where clients’ desire outstrips his/her ability to bear risk, we advise the client accordingly.  Our safety first approach to wealth management has paid off handsomely. Since inception NIMED Capital has outperformed all benchmarks for its private investment portfolios and have never lost money.


RISING ETHOPIA

REFLECTING POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRESSIVENESS

Since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, there has been a whirlwind of positive change. In the business realm, internet usage is spiking, digital currency is gaining traction and foreign direct investment rising. Greater agricultural productivity and strong industrial growth has boosted GDP.  A trend that the World Bank is projecting to continue through 2020 with an annual growth rate of 9 percent. 

Abiy Ahmed. Picture: Supplied

Peace with Eritrea has added access to Eritrea’s ports, that in addition to Djibouti’s is boosting imports. The rollout of the visa on arrival program also brings us closer to achieving full regional integration.  Couple this with the election of our first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, and the prime minister’s efforts to promote equal representation in his cabinet by appointing women to half of those positions, there is no doubt about progress.

There is still much work to do to achieve lasting peace as ethnic tensions and clashes remain, but we remain optimistic that Ethiopia will heal, and economic growth will continue to benefit all.

MEDTECH ETHIOPIA CARING TO CURE

Medtech is on a mission “to heal the ill” by providing quality affordable pharmaceutical and medical supplies.  Born of a frustration at the shortage of pharmaceutical products in Ethiopia, founder and CEO Dr Mohammed Nuri turned his attention to pioneering the relatively unexplored pharmaceutical industry in the country. 

Dr Nuri’s drive and commitment to innovation within the sector led to the company’s meteoric rise. 


Dr Mohammed Nuri, board chairman & CEO Medtech Ethiopia. Picture: Supplied

Medtech began its journey as a pharmaceutical trader importing a limited roster of products, but in less than two decades has transformed itself into a manufacturer operating two major factories, Julphar Ethiopia and Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Factory.

And according to Dr. Nuri, the government of Ethiopia must be acknowledged as well when it comes to supporting the sector by “giving land with low prices, priority in foreign currency and by different tax subsidies”.

Medtech sees the growth potential both the pharmaceutical sector and the Ethiopian market offers.  Such opportunities will likely support the company’s goals of becoming one of the three leading pharmaceutical companies in Africa by 2020 as well as one of the best three business groups in Ethiopia by 2025.

ETTA SOLUTIONS IS PROVIDING TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS IN ETHIOPIA

ETTA Solutions is an Ethiopian tech company independently owned, financed and managed by two childhood friends, Temesgen Gebrehiwot & Ambaye Michael Tesfay. Temesgen, the developer, always dreamt of building a company to provide tech solutions for everyday problems in his country. In 2016, he brought onboard Tesfay as a business partner and they began their journey.

Their first product and first in Ethiopia is ETTA (Ethiopia Taxi), a call center and app-based taxi hailing service that operates 24/7 across the capital, while providing services for thousands of people daily. ETTA is also the leading corporate transport provider, offering prepaid and postpaid services to several large organizations. 


Etta co-founders Temesgen Gebrehiwot and Ambaye Michael Tesfay. Picture: Supplied

SUNSHINE INVESTMENT GROUP IS FORGING AHEAD INTO DIVERSIFIED BUSINESSES

Sunshine Investment Group has been a pioneering business leader in Ethiopia for over three decades. 

Founded by Samuel Tafese, a local contractor and business tycoon, the investment group has been involved in multiple ventures in the road construction, real estate, and hospitality sectors. 

Under the umbrella of the investment group is Sunshine Business Group headed by Tafese’s daughter, Selamawit Samuel, who serves as the chairwoman and executive vice president. 


Sunshine Investment Group, Selamawit Samuel, Chairwoman and EVP. Picture: Supplied

Recent initiatives led by Samuel include the establishment of the first bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Ethiopia. The Haredo Chocolate Company built in the Tatek Special Industrial Zone in West Shewa, Oromia of Ethiopia.  The factory which has a 3,000-ton annual production capacity is expected to create over 350 direct and indirect jobs.

The Haredo Chocolate Factory is not the only successful initiative under the leadership of Samuel.  She has also taken a hands-on role in opening the first Marriott branded hotel in Sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership between Marriott International Group and the Sunshine Business Group. 

The Sunshine Business Group has also partnered with Hilton Hotels & Resorts to develop the 30,000 square meter Hilton Awassa Resort & Spa, slated to open in 2020.  

Samuel’s long-term focus for the company is to further diversify the Sunshine Business Group’s portfolio of businesses expanding into the FMCG and service sectors.  Given this focus, additional business initiatives in other sectors are likely on the horizon.

Aziz Ahmed. Picture: Supplied

CAPTURING ETHIOPIA ONE PHOTO AT A TIME

The focus of your photography is on the treasures of Ethiopia’s wildlife and landscape. Why?

My father used to take me hunting as a young boy, but as I grew into a teen, I started to understand the need to preserve wildlife. I sold my car when I was 24 years old to buy my first camera. I felt it was my calling to change the minds of Ethiopians through the images I captured about the wildlife and hidden treasure our country held.

I believe I have a responsibility to ensure the remaining wildlife and habitat is passed on to the next generation. That is exactly why I focus on the wildlife and landscape of Ethiopia. Our country has a lot to offer but many Ethiopians don’t have that knowledge. While this may have started as a hobby, I have now dedicated my life to preserving these treasures.

Chef Yohanis. Picture: Supplied

Chef Yohanis

We want to globally promote the taste and health benefits of African cuisine and find ways to make it available to everyone. I believe Africa has yet to share her wide heritage-based knowledge to improve the lives of many around the world. With just the right interest and research into our own cultures I believe Africa can solve her own challenges regarding food disparity, but also serve as a model for different societies around the globe.

Amadou Daffe, CEO and co-founder, Gebeya Inc. Picture: Supplied

Gebeya

Gebeya is a self-sustainable ecosystem that combines an original practical training model that shapes the next generation of talented African software developers for global job opportunities and entrepreneurship to build innovative startups in Africa. The Gebeya ecosystem is composed of: A practical project based training model, an online marketplace for on demand IT talent and an incubation/acceleration that nurtures, scales and exits African startups.

– Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-Founder, gebeya inc

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Driven By African Stories

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What’s in a name? For the team at Africa Communications Media Group, ACG, quite a lot, actually. An African Corporate Communications and Media Agency based in South Africa with presence in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda, ACG also services the rest of Africa.

Having worked on numerous campaigns on the continent over the years, ACG takes pride in their reach spanning across all 54 African countries.

The journey began just under four years ago when co-founders Mimi Kalinda and Addis Alemayehou, who are both very passionate about Africa and driving her narrative, teamed up to begin what is now the first African-owned and run Pan-African Communications Agency.


ACG Group CEO and Co-Founder Mimi Kalinda. Picture: Supplied

The two were driven by the very pertinent need for African stories to be told by Africans in a way that is understanding of nuance and sensitive to the ways of the region.

“Doing business in Africa, while very rewarding, does not come without its challenges. It requires one to fully grasp the cultures, values and needs of the local consumer. My team and I know Africa, and sometimes that means accepting the fact that while we may not be the most conversant with the ways of a certain region, there are other people who are.

Therefore, we maintain great working relationships with our affiliate PR firms across Africa. They serve as our eyes and ears on the ground to ensure that any work we put out is relevant, culturally-attuned and timely,” says  Mimi Kalinda,  ACG Group Chief Executive and co-founder, on the commemoration of the company’s third anniversary.

ACG Managing Director Nonye Mpho Omotola Picture: Supplied

Public relations is fast changing from practitioners being the gatekeepers and liaisons between client and media; to playing an active role in the industry and, as such, the ACG team sees innovation as the backbone behind everything they do.

”Innovation is the backbone of everything we do at ACG. This is evidenced by the services we offer such as perception audits to better understand clients’ positioning in the market and stakeholder mapping to ensure that clients are speaking to the right audiences.

We also have a deep understanding of the media landscape in the countries our clients want to reach, giving them the on-air presence to help tangible results with visible returns on investment.  We play an active role in tying communication outcomes to the overall business objectives of our clients” says Nonye Mpho Omotola, ACG Managing Director

Tuba Mutwale Special Projects Coordinator and Nonye Mpho Omotola Managing Director of ACG. Picture: Supplied

A wonderfully diverse team, the ACG staff compliment comprises of people from Nigeria, DRC, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Mozambique. The agency lives up to its name by being fully immersed in Africa and having a keen interest in the affairs and happenings of the continent.

When the team at FORBES WOMAN AFRICA approached ACG to participate as activation partners in the Leading Women Summit held at the Durban ICC, it was a natural alignment of goals for both parties as the management and entire team at ACG are passionate about the development of women, particularly in Africa. 

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Rising Africa Series

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A celebration of thought leaders, innovators, thinkers, problem solvers, and drivers of growth and development


Rising Ethiopia 2019

Dr. Mohammed Nuri Osman, Board Chair & CEO, Medtech, Ethiopia

Medtech is an Ethiopian pharmaceutical company that was created due to the shortage of pharmaceutical supplies in the country. Dr Mohammed Nuri, Chairman and CEO of Medtech Ethiopia began his long successful career as a clinic based medical doctor, and through an unstoppable passion for a more substantial quality of life in Africa, rose to become the CEO of Medtech.

He states that it is persistence which has brought Medtech great success and
will increase the company’s stability even further. Medtech is known for supplying long term solutions to create an affordable and accessible pharmaceutical market.

Dr. Mohammed Nuri Osman, Board Chair & CEO, Medtech Ethiopia. Picture: Supplied

With this in mind, Nuri has set goals in motion to become one of the top three African pharmaceutical companies by 2020. Through his endeavors, Medtech has advanced from trading limited drugs to manufacturing a variety of advanced medicines.

Nuri states that Medtech follows an invaluable level of respect and reputation for all included parties, striving toward the motto ‘we care to cure’.

To Nuri there is nothing more important than quality at the core of everything Medtech does, bringing affordable drugs to Ethiopians throughout the country and beyond.

Benyam Bisrat, Managing Director Jupiter International Hotel, Ethiopia

“We are certainly endowed with numerous attractions, extensive historical sites, and a great climate mix, however, our competitive edge remains elusive because we are yet to properly develop and brand our product globally.

Benyam Bisrat, Managing Director Jupiter International Hotel Ethiopia. Picture: Supplied

Despite this, in recent years, Ethiopia’s tourism and hospitality industry has
emerged as one of the key sectors driving the country’s economy. The tourist sector continues to flourish, owing it to a surge in both business
and leisure travel, with international and regional visitor numbers climbing.

This said, there are plenty opportunities for investors, not only in mid-scale hotels, but also in timeshare business, conference centers, water parks, golf courses, and recreation centers throughout the country.”

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Banking On The Financial Freedom Of African Women

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4G Capital’s Chief of Staff, Genevieve Hennessy-Barrett discusses how inclusion, female mentorship and shared knowledge can cross borders and heal Africa’s displaced and most vulnerable women.


Access to financial services and the freedom to open a bank account remains unattainable for many women around the world, and even more so in frontier markets. 

Some progress has been made; the number of bank accounts owned by women now equals men in South Africa.  But, elsewhere on our continent, the situation is not so encouraging.  According to a 2017 Global Findex report, the gender gap remains, on average, just over 9% across Sub-Saharan Africa, unchanged since 2011.  

We are all too familiar with the numerous reasons why women all over the world find it difficult to gain financial independence.  In ‘emerging’ markets there exists an even greater lack of opportunity in terms of education and work, and in some cases a cultural expectation that can prevent women from investing in their own future. 

But no matter the challenge, women have always adapted and overcome through the creation of their own opportunities, and have worked together to protect and support their families and communities.

Female entrepreneurs make significant contributions to local and national economies. The SME Finance Forum’s research indicates that almost one third of the world’s small businesses are owned by women and account for 32% of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)  finance gap, estimated to be worth be $5.2 trillion.

4G Capital’s Chief of Staff, Genevieve Hennessy-Barrett. Picture: Supplied

Lack of collateral, official identification and correct paperwork, are the primary reasons for financial exclusion.  Access to credit is often extremely difficult for MSMEs, and even more so for small businesses owned by women who are often given less favourable terms than their male peers. 

As a fintech credit company working with MSMEs who are typically excluded from traditional financial institutions, 4G Capital has sought to bridge not only the finance gap, but also address the gap in financial literacy.  By combining these offerings we can alleviate poverty sustainably and unlock vital human potential.  We are on target to positively impact more than 1 million people by 2020. 

We believe it is our blend of finance and education delivered via ‘touch-tech’ that is responsible for our appeal to many female business owners. Although we did not focus our marketing strategy on gender, 81% of our customers are female. 

We are able to support their development through a bespoke programme of business training to help them use our micro-loans to achieve much higher take-home earnings.  

According to recent research by one of our partners, Technoserve, this combination of training combined with working capital credit resulted in an 82% increase in revenue year-on-year.

But imagine the challenges faced by women who have had to flee their own countries, seeking refuge and safety for themselves and often for their children. Determined to build a sustainable future, their plight has gained the attention of RefuSHE, a charity set to provide support to refugee women in Kenya.

4G Capital has initiated a program to deliver business training and mentorship to RefuSHE’s Girls’ Empowerment Project (GEP), designed to give access to education and livelihood opportunities, while learning about human rights and cultivating leadership skills.

We kick started this partnership by welcoming the girls at one of our 4G Capital branches.  They were given training on basic business principles such as book keeping and responsible management of business credit.

Based on what they learnt, RefuSHE’s girls have now taken part in our Business Plan Competition.  

Successful participants have been taken forward to internships and matched with successful female entrepreneurs who are customers of 4G Capital.  

They will be supported, mentored and trained. The hope is that with this initiative, these girls who were once so vulnerable will now gain the necessary skills to run a successful business, be part of a community and build a new life.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we’d like to honour all the women of Africa striving to build a future for themselves and their communities by saluting their determination, knowledge, wisdom, humour and humanity in the face of the challenges which affect us all.

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