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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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The Anzisha Summit – Towards A Future Driven By Africa’s Youngest Entrepreneurs

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April 15, 2019 will hopefully mark the day a new phrase enters popular discourse about how our economic futures could play out. The term “4th Industrial Revolution” has come to embody the conversation around the supply-side of the jobs debate -skills and education.

We hope to drive new research, discussion and policy around the demand-side of employment by deeply exploring entrepreneurship as a career – particularly for students of high potential.

What if skilled students with options chose an entrepreneurship path and hired their friends and peers along the way? What does Africa’s youth employment situation look like if this happens?

The Anzisha Scenario campaign concept was born after heated discussions and exchanges internally in response to a research paper that was released in 2018, and the resulting coverage it got in the media. The research took a position that older founders in the US have been more successful as entrepreneurs generally, and, particularly, when it comes to scale and job creation. The ensuing media and social media coverage seemed to quickly extrapolate this to an insight that applied globally. Emails quickly circulated across the entrepreneurship and education ecosystems, echoing the sentiments of the research and its impact for programming.

I had a particularly strong reaction to the report. It’s not that the research is wrong (it isn’t), it’s that it:

  • Is pretty obvious. Prior work, life and management experience should make you a better entrepreneur when you’re older, in the same way it should make you a more successful manager or leader within an existing business.
  • Inadvertently positions the problem of youth unemployment as largely unsolvable by young people themselves. But with not enough job opportunities to start with, if only people with 15+ years’ experience can create other jobs, we’re in a heap of trouble.
  • Is quickly supported by those who have followed traditional education and career pathways, crowding out other experience pathways as less legitimate. Anyone who got a great degree, and then worked for a great company, is immediately validated and pre-qualified as a better scale entrepreneur through formal training. Few have that opportunity.

Having had this research kick off some of our own thinking, we started to look at our own evidence and work. And this then became the next driver of investing in a campaign as a pan-African, inclusive, multi-stakeholder scenario planning exercise.

We have seen, time and again, young entrepreneurs start out from the very youngest of ages, and slowly build careers –in the same way any other career professional would. Those that are well supported throughout tend to be more successful, just as a well-supported professional would be on their path to senior management. We will be presenting these stories in a Hall of Fame campaign later in the year.

We also have seen clear evidence that managers hire from their peer group in terms of age. Older entrepreneurs hire older professionals. Young entrepreneurs hire young. The only people really willing to hire 19 year olds without question are 23 year old entrepreneurs (or thereabouts).

We have seen young people of high potential and with options – they are actively recruited by universities and employers – choose entrepreneurship.

The combination of this and many other thoughts is part of the discussion we want to have. Is the Anzisha Scenario possible? What are the drivers, barriers and opportunities? What are the roles of parents, teachers, students, policy-makers and other stakeholders in making the choice of “entrepreneurship as a career” desirable and supported, with appropriate income as you grow? The Anzisha Scenario as a conversation on campus has already begun to influence our own curriculum planning as our faculty think about their role in promoting and supporting entrepreneurship as a career path.

We’ve already had two stakeholder workshops with cross-sector representatives from South Africa, Mauritius, Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana. (Thanks to ALA, ALU, ALX, Harambee, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Driven Entrepreneurs, E-squared, Imagine Scholar, McKinsey, Nova Pioneer, RLabs, and Startup Academy).

On April 15, during the inaugural Very Young Entrepreneur Education and Acceleration Summit, we’ll host our first experts’ panel and launch the draft position paper. Please follow or contribute to the conversation using the hashtag #AnzishaScenario. Make sure to also watch highlights from the Summit at anzisha.org/summit. Let’s see if we as a community can put young people at the center of solving the employment challenges we collectively face.

– Josh Adler

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Transformation In A Changing World: The Road To The SDGs

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As we strive for a future in which all people live in dignity and prosperity, where no one is left behind, we need to significantly shift our approach to development in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, believes the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).


“We need to be constantly finding new, innovative ways to approach development in our fast-evolving world,” says the President of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr Bandar Hajjar, as he plans to convene a coalition of the Bank’s 57 Member Countries at its 44th Annual General Meeting, held in Marrakech, Morocco from 3-6th April 2019.

A new development model is needed to address the strategic development priorities facing governments worldwide. Innovative approaches spearheaded by IsDB are driving value chain competitiveness, joint green industrial innovation and a resilient global developers’ network in order to support all Member Countries.

This year’s Annual General Meeting will be a reflection of the President’s Five-Year Program representing the transformative vision for the IsDB. “Our vision focuses on the root causes of development challenges, rather than the symptoms,” says Dr Hajjar.

The President will also be launching his new book, “The Road to the SDG’s: A New Business Model for a Fast Changing World” at the annual meeting, which sets out his vision of how the world can reach the 2030 SDG targets. The model promotes a change of narrative for development by adopting a growth mindset and focusing on job creation, as well as building and strengthening national competitiveness and connectivity to global markets. At the heart of the Bank’s vision are four core pillars: Partnerships, STI, Global Value Chain and Islamic Finance.

H.E. Dr Bandar Hajjar discusses how public private partnerships can help pave the way to solving the SDGs. Picture: Supplied

Following on from a successful Public Private Partnerships Forum, held in Rabat on 28th February, the IsDB will be exploring the importance of expanding and deepening existing partnerships, as well as seeking new partners, at the Annual Meeting. “When we work towards a common goal of commitment it generates much greater development effectiveness. PPPs lead to higher quality, efficiency, and job creation,” adds Dr Hajjar.

Focus on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is also a key theme which will be explored at the Annual Meeting. The IsDB’s $500m Transform Fund is already supporting local innovators and entrepreneurs in their quest to solve the SDGs. “I have had the opportunity to witness some of these innovations first hand over the last 12 months through our Transformers Summit in Cambridge and Roadshows across the world. I am optimistic about the opportunity innovation presents to drive people out of poverty and achieve progress at scale,” says Dr Hajjar.

To also ensure Member Countries maximize their benefits from the global value chain, the IsDB believes they should move away from focusing on raw materials exports. Developing countries should instead prepare long-term plans to promote labour-intensive high added-value industrialization and improve the quality of education to create a new generation of skilled workers.

The fourth pillar of the IsDB’s vision focuses Islamic finance. For over 44 years, the IsDB has been practicing Islamic finance and seeking to promote economic development through its operations. The IsDB is a regular issuer of Sukuk in the global financial markets to finance large-scale development projects and to promote socio-economic development in its Member Countries; it also promotes Waqf and Zakat products.

Dr Hajjar added: “The Islamic Development Bank is responding to a new era while recognising that it is operating in a fast-changing world marked by tremendous global challenges. Never has the need for cooperation and partnership been of such paramount importance and I look forward to discussing our new vision with representatives from our Member Countries in Marrakesh.”

-The IsDB’s Annual Meeting, Transformation in a changing world: the road to the SDGs, will be taking place in Marrakesh on 3-6th April. Visit www.isdb-am44.org for more information and live-streams of key sessions. Follow @IsDB_group on Twitter for the latest conversations from the event.

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Eswatini: A Global Fortress of Innovation and Tradition

“The Kingdom of Eswatini continues to use its resources and capabilities to expand investment opportunities for both foreign and local business, as part of our national strategy for socio-economic growth. We spare no effort in our drive to access and secure international markets for our products as we see this to be a crucial link to the global economy.” His Majesty King Mswati III

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“The Kingdom of Eswatini continues to use its resources and capabilities to expand investment opportunities for both foreign and local business, as part of our national strategy for socio-economic growth. We spare no effort in our drive to access and secure international markets for our products as we see this to be a crucial link to the global economy.” His Majesty King Mswati III

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On April 19, 2018, Eswatini celebrated its golden jubilee since independence, and King Mswati III’s 50th birthday, with the King’s announcement that the nation would be adopting its pre-colonial name. In doing so, he confirmed the nation’s commitment to a new beginning; a mission previously kick-started by his 2017-2022 Vision focusing on making Eswatini a first world nation by driving ICT, tourism, agri-processing, manufacturing, energy and mining sectors. In alignment with the spirit of the Vision and in an unprecedented fashion, a new prime minister was then appointed a few months later, via a three-day People’s Parliament, Sibaya. Prime Minister, Ambrose Dlamini’s private sector mindset has been key in providing the appropriate shift required by the NDP and in putting together a new cabinet whose policies and reforms are driven by the provision of an innovative enabling business environment for investors and SMEs. “The private sector prioritises efficiency. Fifty percent of the assets under our supervision are going to provide the environment to attract FDI,” states Sandile Dlamini, CEO of Financial Services Regulator Authority (FSRA).  New legislations have since been set up to ensure rapid company registration and trading licences through e-platforms. “We have the basic economic infrastructure needed to attract international investment,” elaborates Dumisani J. Msibi, Group Managing Director of Fincorp.

Initiatives to spur the growth of ICT have been crucial in leading the way to rapid economic growth. “We need to invest in ICT, because it is going to be the engine for social-economic growth and key to growing national GDP,” explains Petrus Dlamini, MD of EPTC. The banking sector has partnered with fintechs to upgrade expertise and innovation. “The banking sector is a catalyst and big contributor to the GDP,” adds Fikele Nkosi, Nedbank’s MD.

Eswatini’s E240 million Royal Science and Technology Park was conceived and launched with the aim of providing a location for governments, universities and private companies to collaborate in advancing innovation, development and commercialisation of technology through a one stop facility. “Using technology to enable people to do business is the future of the industry,” asserts CEO of Standard Bank, Mvuseleo Fakudze.

Opportunities abound within Eswatini, with trade and touristical routes literally pushing Eswatini’s boundaries via railway tracks, the King Mswati III International Airport and new highways. Hon. Ndwandwe, Minister of Public Works and Transport elaborates: “Considering Eswatini’s land-locked status and strategic location between Mozambique and South Africa, the transport sector plays a pivotal role in ensuring accessibility and efficient movement of goods and services within the region, strengthening a regional logistics-hub position for the country.” Huge investments have been made to connect Eswatini to Mozambique and South Africa. “Geographically, we have an advantage, because to the south of this country you have one of the biggest cargo ports in Africa,” explains Stephenson Ngubane, CEO of Eswatini Railways.  On the other hand, major construction company, Inyatsi, is currently building a strategic highway connecting South Africa through to Mozambique via Eswatini’s airport. “Infrastructure drives the growth in any country and Eswatini has always been on the forefront of road development,” declares Group CEO of Inyatsi, Tommy Strydom.

Also crucial to national growth and development is the government’s prioritisation of its energy sector, aiming to be power sufficient by 2034 by harnessing the nation’s vast resources for renewable  energy, such as biomass, bagasse, hydropower, solar and wind. CEO of Eswatini’s Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA), Vusumizi N. Mkhumane confirms: “We want to improve our power producer base, having a more cost-effective power delivery.”

As the nation’s largest industry and fourth-largest sugar producer on the continent, sugar cane grew 735,000 tonnes of sugar in 2017/18 alone. In order to support and sustain its sugar belt, and other crops, the government has implemented climate adaptive initiatives: Komati Downstream Development Project (KDDP), Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP), as well as LUSIP II which will enlarge available irrigated farmland for local smallholders. Samson Sithole, CEO of ESWADE states: “We have the opportunity at ESWADE to move people from traditional agriculture to commercial agriculture; we want them to produce and to feed the world.”

Key to the nation’s ability to fulfil its vision is its highly educated population, and its commitment to progress and ancient customs. But ultimately, according to Prime Minister Dlamini, “peace and stability is the main glue that holds us together as a nation and has allowed business to flourish.”

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