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From Bitcoin To Bezos, The 18 Best Forbes Stories Of 2018

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From unearthing crypto-billionaires to exposing financial shenanigans, in chronological order, Forbes’ 18 greatest hits of 2018.


February 7

Forbes’ First List Of Cryptocurrency’s Richest: Meet The Secretive Freaks, Geeks And Visionaries Minting Billions From Bitcoin Mania

The craziest bubble ever has created billion-dollar fortunes. Meet the freaks, geeks and messianic visionaries who scored cryptocurrency riches.

When Forbes set out to find the richest people in crypto, we knew the technology’s decentralized nature—and the wild valuation swings—would make it a tall task. But with blockchain technology here to stay, it’s safe to say some of these names will be around for a long time to come. “We had to draw on a wide range of experience and skills, from our decades-long work valuing private companies to new tricks for analyzing digital wallets,” says Staff Writer Jeff Kauflin. “It was the most challenging reporting I’ve ever done.”

March 6

Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

The American Dream is alive and well on Wall Street thanks to Robert Smith, the richest black person in America, who has figured out a way to reengineer both private equity and enterprise software—and used this secret playbook to build a $4.4 billion fortune.

“I spent two years trying to get Robert Smith to speak with me about his business,” Senior Editor Nathan Vardi says. “He was clearly the most interesting story in private equity, but he was reluctant to speak. He finally agreed to meet me in Miami on a Saturday in January with his partner, Brian Sheth. Once we finally got to talking, Robert just went on and on. It was one of my favorite interviews in 20 years as a reporter.”

April 3

Venture Catalysts: The 36 Women Secretly Breaking Up Silicon Valley’s Old Boys’ Club

Angered and frustrated by tech’s suffocating old boys’ club, a group of elite venture capitalists are channeling emotion into action. Their weapons—investing and entrepreneurship—provide a blueprint for how to transform any crusty industry from the inside out.

“When I first got a cryptic email from one of the founders of All Raise in December 2017, the group didn’t have a name, and no one knew who was involved outside the group, but I still got that tingling any reporter knows when they sense they’re on the track of a special story,” says Associate Editor Alex Konrad. Adds staff writer Biz Carson: “It wasn’t until we sat down with group and shadowed them that I realized both the depth and scale of their ambitions.”

April 19

The Last Days Of Banking Heir Matthew Mellon

Matthew Mellon’s death in Mexico raises many unanswered questions, including what will happen to the estimated $500 million of XRP digital currency he owned. “I am trying to live a responsible life,” he told Forbes earlier this year.

“When I spoke to banking heir Matthew Mellon in January 2018, it was clear that his large holding of the cryptocurrency XRP made him feel vindicated. He told me he was fighting his substance-abuse demons and was proud to have personally earned a fortune,” Vardi recalls. “Three months later, Mellon was dead. He died in Mexico, where he was experimenting with hallucinatory therapies that are illegal in the U.S. It was sad reporting on the days leading up to his death.” 

May 2

Mark Zuckerberg-Connected Charity At Risk Of Implosion

Quietly, without fanfare, an under-the-radar foundation in Silicon Valley has grown to become larger than household names like the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. But despite the outward appearance of success at the charity, which has focused on growth in assets above all else, inner turmoil abounds.

“The sad irony of this story is that the Silicon Valley Community Foundation was set up to support groups helping those in need in the Valley, and it ended up being an awful place to work for so many people,” says Assistant Managing Editor Kerry Dolan. In June, after substantiating claims of sexual and workplace harassment by the charity’s number two executive that helped lead to an “unhealthy workplace environment,” the foundation’s board announced that CEO Emmett Carson was out.

May 14

A Billion-Dollar Fortune From Timber And Fire

From humble beginnings traipsing through California’s vast forests with his dad to salvaging wood from forest fires, Red Emmerson has built a logging empire by being cheaper and more aggressive than his rivals.

“I spent days driving through public land that Sierra Pacific Industries had logged after a forest fire and couldn’t possibly have prepared for how apocalyptic these areas looked,” Staff Writer Chloe Sorvino says. “It was simply shocking.” 

June 12

Runaway Billionaire: Meet The CEO Whose Company Descended Into Fraud, Embezzlement and Betrayal

Bill Austin built a fortune from medical devices, then set out on a crusade to help the poor hear. But while he was off hanging with movie stars and rock gods, his company descended into a cesspool of fraud, embezzlement and betrayal. A cautionary tale of a second act to do good—gone woefully bad.

Staff Writer Michela Tindera went to Minneapolis to hear billionaire Bill Austin’s witness testimony against former executives he accused of stealing more than $20 million from his company. “There was hardly a dull moment during his days-long testimony,” Tindera says. “Austin knows how to captivate an audience.” And the story has kept evolving in the months since. Just a few days ago the former president of the company was sentenced to seven years in prison.

July 19

The Inside Story Of Papa John’s Toxic Culture

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s alleged behavior ranges from spying on his workers to sexually inappropriate conduct, which has resulted in at least two confidential settlements.

“The entire story started when I received a tip on Twitter—from someone unaffiliated with Papa John’s—who sent me a link to a 1999 lawsuit against John Schnatter. I figured it was worth a few calls to former employees. I heard enough during those conversations to keep reporting and ultimately reached out to more than 150 people,” Reporter Noah Kirsch says. “After we published, Schnatter resigned as chairman, and two other executives mentioned in the piece have since been pushed out. If nothing else, this story reveals the power of individuals who speak up.”

August 7

New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting

If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.

“I’ve been writing about Wilbur Ross for about a year now, covering all sorts of financial shenanigans involving millions of dollars. But a lot of that stuff is hard to understand. I’m convinced this story caught people’s attention because of one simple detail: Former colleagues said the commerce secretary used to steal Sweet’N Low packets. Everyone knows a guy like that,” says Associate Editor Dan Alexander.

July 11

How 20-Year-Old Kylie Jenner Built A $900 Million Fortune In Less Than 3 Years

Not even 21, Kylie Jenner has built a $900 million cosmetics fortune, with virtually no employees, capital or expertise. This new model of extreme fame leverage is radically reshaping business, culture and politics.

“The Kylie Jenner story involved a lot of driving,” recalls Associate Editor Natalie Robehdemed. “Sixty miles to Oxnard, California, to peek around the laboratories where Kylie Cosmetics are produced. And 30 miles to Kris Jenner’s home for an interview with Kylie and Kris at her palatial white home.”

“Fittingly, I was driving and listening to the radio when I first heard Travis Scott’s (now multi-platinum) single “Sicko Mode,” in which he references the controversy caused by Jenner’s Forbes cover. I did not expect the story to create as much of a stir as it did—I thought folks would be interested by the structure of her barebones business, but the backlash it received from critics who disputed Jenner’s self-made status was fascinating. I think the story sparked a necessary conversation about wealth and status in America and shined a spotlight on the way social media is shaping our economy and society.”  

July 12

Meet The Unknown Immigrant Billionaire Betting Her Fortune To Take On Musk In Space

Eren Ozmen and her husband spent the last quarter a century carefully building Sierra Nevada from a tiny, 20-person defense firm into a multibillion-dollar aerospace concern. Now she’s betting their fortunes on the billionaire space race.

“Ozmen and her husband had never done an in-person interview before, but the minute we sat down for drinks the storytelling began. Ozmen worked as a night janitor and sold baklava to put herself through grad school and went on to build a multibillion dollar aerospace and defense company with husband Fatih,” says Staff Writer Lauren Debter. “Their sense of patriotism was what perhaps struck me the most and was the lone reason given for why they have spent three decades equipping the U.S. military and now are helping America reestablish its leadership in space.” 

July 18

An Unlikely Group Of Billionaires And Politicians Has Created The Most Unbelievable Tax Break Ever

The never-told story of how an unlikely group of billionaires and politicians quietly passed a law that revolutionizes investment in struggling regions—and offers one of the greatest tax-avoidance opportunities in American history.

“I ping-ponged from the heart of Silicon Valley, to the inner chambers of Republican and Democratic Senators, to long neglected neighbors in Charleston, South Carolina, and Newark, New Jersey,” says Senior Editor Steven Bertoni. “The response was as varied and far-flung as the research, drawing questions and curiosity from a diverse range of readers across regions and industries: wealth managers and lawyers, builders and fledging founders—all looking for ways to get into the Opportunity Zone action.” 

September 4

Bezos Unbound: Exclusive Interview With The Amazon Founder On What He Plans To Conquer Next

America’s most innovative—and feared—business leader is coming off a three-year run that has him the richest person of all time. Now he tells Forbes he’s only begun to grow. Corporate America, you’ve been warned.

Forbes’ chief content officer sat down with the richest man in the world to talk Amazon’s unprecedented ascent. Bezos’ innovative growth plan should give every CEO in every field pause: “The market size is unconstrained.”

September 18

How Roblox Is Training The Next Generation Of Gaming Entrepreneurs

Millions of tweens play video games on Roblox’s website. That’s not unusual for a social gaming unicorn. What is unusual: teaching kids the rudiments of coding and paying them like entrepreneurs.

“My favorite part of reporting this story was tagging along with a group of kids and their parents on a tour of Roblox HQ. To me, things didn’t look much different than the office of any other software development company—but for the kids, it was like touring Willy Wonka’s factory,” says Associate Editor Alex Knapp. 

September 26

Exclusive: WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook And Why He Left $850 Million Behind

Facebook’s blockbuster $22 billion WhatsApp purchase instantly made Brian Acton one of the richest people in America. But as with his Instagram peers, his idealism clashed with Mark Zuckerberg’s financial juggernaut, leading to perhaps the most expensive moral stand in history. For the first time, Acton explains why he walked away from $850 million.

“Putting the story together was a stressful process,” says Staff Writer Parmy Olson. “We knew it was going to shine a negative light on the inner workings of Facebook and reveal some new information—for instance, that Facebook misled European regulators about its intentions to link user accounts. But the public reaction was incredible, from dozens of news articles to praise on social media for Brian Acton’s brutal honesty to a public rant from one of Facebook’s top executives. Since then, there have been more revelations about Facebook’s data practices that underscore why our interviewee quit when he did.”

October 2

How Trump Is Trying—And Failing—To Get Rich Off His Presidency

Donald Trump’s White House tenure—and his polarizing politics—has actually dented his net worth. But it’s not for a lack of trying to cash in.

“Ever since Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the whole country has been wondering whether he was making money on the presidency or not, and this was the first story to really answer that question,” says Alexander. “We dug deep,” adds Associate Editor Chase Peterson-Withorn. “We interviewed nearly 200 of Trump’s colleagues, partners and industry observers since the election. Ultimately we came away with a fascinating—and counterintuitive—result.”

October 10

Exclusive: In-N-Out Billionaire Lynsi Snyder Opens Up About Her Troubled Past And The Burger Chain’s Future

At 36, billionaire heiress Lynsi Snyder has already struggled through her father’s tragic death, three failed marriages and a battle with alcohol and marijuana. The devout Christian eventually found stability running In-N-Out, her family’s quintessential West Coast burger chain, and now she’s determined to protect it at all costs.

“Lynsi Snyder rarely lets journalists into her world. I expected her to be a bit guarded. But she opened up almost immediately about what she’s gone through,” says Sorvino. “I was surprised when she started tearing up while speaking about her father’s legacy, but soon realized that’s where her strength lies as a leader—in sharing her vulnerability with others. It’s only made her a stronger president. In-N-Out’s cult following is all the better for it.” 

November 19

How A Mysterious Tech Billionaire Created Two Fortunes—And A Global Software Sweatshop

Two decades ago, Joe Liemandt became the youngest member of The Forbes 400 by building a software juggernaut. He’s quietly bigger than ever, with a far darker model.

“Joe Liemandt is the J.D. Salinger of software,” Senior Editor Nathan Vardi says. “He disappeared from public view after being a tech celebrity in the 1990s. But I discovered he had spent the last decade building a massive software empire, buying U.S. software companies and turning them into cash machines by replacing employees with closely monitored foreign contract workers paid by the hour,” says Vardi. “In reporting on Liemandt, I felt I was getting a glimpse into the future of skilled labor.”

Current Affairs

The Rage And Tears That Tore A Nation

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Snapshots of the outrage against foreign nationals and protests against sexual offenders in South Africa in recent weeks, captured by FORBES AFRICA photojournalist Motlabana Monnakgotla.


As the continent’s second-biggest economy, South Africa attracts migrants from the rest of Africa. But mired in its own problems of unemployment and political instability, September saw a serious outbreak of attacks by South Africans on foreign nationals and foreign-owned businesses. And they have been ugly.    

The spark that fueled the raging fire was in Pretoria, the country’s capital, when a taxi driver was shot dead by a foreign national who was selling drugs to a youngster in the central business district (CBD).

The altercation caused a riot and the taxi industry brought the CBD to a standstill, blocking intersections. It did not stop there; a week later, about 60 kilometers from the capital in Malvern, a suburb east of the Johannesburg CBD, a hijacked building caught fire, leaving three dead. As emergency services were putting out the fire, the residents took advantage and looted foreign-owned shops and burned car dealerships overnight on Jules Street.

The lootings extended to the CBD and other parts of Johannesburg.

To capture this embarrassing moment in South African history, I visited Katlehong, a township 35 kilometers east of Johannesburg, where the residents blocked roads leading to Sontonga Mall on a mission to loot the mall and the foreign-owned shops therein overnight.

Shop-owners and workers were shocked to wake up to no business.

Mfundo Maljingolo, a worker at Fish And Chips, was among the distressed.

“This thing started last night, people started looting and broke into the mall and did what they wanted to do. I couldn’t go to work today because there’s nothing to do; now, we are not going to get paid. The shop will be losing close to R10,000 ($677) today. It’s messed up,” said Maljingolo.

But South African businesses were affected too.

Among the shops at the mall is Webbers, a clothing and footwear store. Looters could not enter the shop and it was one of the few that escaped the vandalism.

Dineo Nyembe, the store’s manager, said she was in disbelief when she saw people could not enter the mall.

“We got here this morning and the ceiling was wrecked but there was no sign that the shop was entered, everything was just as we left it. Now, we are packing stock back to the warehouse, because we don’t know if they are coming back tonight,” lamented Nyembe, unsure if they would make their daily target or if they would be trading again.

 Across the now-wrecked mall are small businesses that were not as fortunate as Webbers, and it was not only the shop-owners that were affected. 

Emmanuel Nhlane’s home was robbed even as attackers were looting the shop outside.

“They broke into my house, I was threatened with a petrol bomb and I had to stand outside to give them a chance; they took my fridge, bed, cash and my VHS,” said Nhlane.

Nhlane had rented out his yard to foreign nationals to operate a shop. He does not comprehend why his belongings were taken because he doesn’t own a shop. Now, it means that the unemployed Nhlane will not be getting his monthly rental fee of R3,700 ($250).

Far away, the coastal KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, was also affected as trucks burned and a driver was killed because of his nationality. This was part of a logistics and transport industry national strike.

Back in Johannesburg, I visited the car dealerships that were a part of the burning spree on Jules Street.

The streets were still ashy and the air still smoky, two days after the unfortunate turn of events.

Muhamed Haffejee, one of the distraught businessmen there, said: “Currently, we are still not trading.” 

Cape Town, in the Western Cape province of South Africa, which hosted the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa from September 4 to 6, was also witness to protests by women and girls from all walks of life outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre, demanding that the leadership take action to end the spate of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.

There were protests also outside Parliament. What set off the nationwide outcry was the shocking rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old film and media student at the University of Cape Town, inside a post office by a 42-year-old employee at the post office.

There was anger against the ghastly crimes and wave of GBV in the country that continues unabated. According to Stats SA, there has been a drastic increase of women-based violence in South Africa; sexual offences are up by 4.6%, from 50,108 in 2018 to 52,420 in 2019.

A week later, on a Friday, Sandton, Africa’s richest square mile and one of the biggest economic hubs, was shut down by hundreds of angry women and members of advocacy groups from across Johannesburg. They congregated by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the cynosure of business, singing and chanting, to demand “a 2% levy on profits of all listed entities to help fund the fight against GBV and femicide”.   

Among the protesters was Cebi Ngqinanbi, holding a placard that read: “I’m not your punching bag.”

“We came here to disrupt Sandton as the heart of Johannesburg’s economic hub. We want to make everyone aware that women and children are being killed every day in South Africa and they [Sandton] continue with business as usual, sitting in their offices with air-conditioners and the stock exchange whilst people on the ground making them rich are dying. That is why we are here, to speak to those that have economic power,” said Ngqinanbi.

She added that if women can be given economic power, they will be able to fend for themselves and won’t fall prey to abusive men, since most women stay in abusive relationships because men are more financially stable.

Amid the chanting and singing of struggle songs, Nobuhle Ajiti addressed the crowd and shared her own haunting experience as a migrant in South Africa and survivor of GBV. She spoke in isiZulu, a South African language.

“I survived a gang rape; I was thrown out of a moving car and stabbed several times. I survived it, but am I going to survive xenophobia that is looming around in South Africa? Will I able to share my xenophobia story like I can share my GBV story?” questioned Ajiti.

She said as migrants, they did not wake up in the morning and decide to come to South Africa, but because of the hardships faced in their home countries, they were forced to come to what they perceived as the city of opportunities. And as a foreign national, she had to deal with both xenophobia and GBV.

“We experience institutionalized xenophobia in hospitals; we are forced to pay huge amounts for consultation. I am raped and I need medical attention and I am told I need to pay R5,000 ($250).

“As a mere migrant, where am I going to get R5,000? I get abused at home and the police officer would ask me where I’m from because of my accent, I sound Zimbabwean. What does my nationality have to do with my husband beating me at home or with the man that just raped me?” she asked.

Women stop traffic while they hold up placards stating their grievences against GBV. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Addressing the resolute women outside was the JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King who received the memorandum demanding business take their plight seriously, from a civil society group representing over 70 civil society organizations and individuals.

The list of demands include that at all JSE-listed companies contribute to a fund to resource the National Strategy Plan on GBV and femicide, to be launched in November; transport for employees who work night shifts or work after hours; establish workplace mechanisms to provide support to GBV survivors as part of employee wellness, and prevention programs that help make workplaces safe spaces for all women.

Newton-King assured the protestors she would address their demands in seven days. But a lot can happen in seven days. Will there be more crimes in the meantime? How many more will be raped and killed in South Africa by then?

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Quality Higher Education Means More Than Learning How To Work

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When people talk about quality education, they’re often referring to the kind of education that gives students the knowledge and skills they need for the job market. But there’s a view that quality education has wider benefits: it develops individuals in ways that help develop society more broadly.

In Zimbabwe, for example, the higher education policy emphasises student employability and the alleviation of labour shortages. But, as my research found, this isn’t happening in practice.

University education needs to do more than produce a graduate who can get a job. It should also give graduates a sense of right and wrong. And it should instil graduates with an appreciation for other people’s development.

Tertiary education should also give students opportunities, choices and a voice when it comes to work safety, job satisfaction, security, growth and dignity. Higher education is a space where they can learn to be critical. It must prepare them for participating in the economy and broader society.

This isn’t happening in Zimbabwe. Graduate unemployment is high and employers and policy makers are blaming this largely on the mismatch between graduate skills and market requirements.

Investigating Zimbabwe’s universities
My research sought to examine how a human development lens could add to what was valued as higher education, and the kind of graduate outcomes produced in Zimbabwe. I investigated 10 of the universities in Zimbabwe (there were 15 at the time of the research). Four were private and six public.

I reviewed policy documents, interviewed representatives of institutions and held discussions with students. Members of Zimbabwe’s higher education quality assurance body and university teaching staff were also included.

I found that in practice, higher education in Zimbabwe was influenced by the country’s socio-political and economic climate. Decisions and appointments of key university administrators in public universities and the minister of higher education were largely political.

In addition, resources were limited and staff turnover was high. Universities just couldn’t finance themselves through tuition fees.

Different players in the higher education system – employers, the government, academics, students and their families – have different ideas about what “quality” means in higher education. The Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education understands quality as meeting set standards and benchmarks that emphasise the graduates’ knowledge and skills.

To some extent, academics and university administrators see quality as teaching and learning that gives students a mixture of skills and values such as social responsibility.

But lecturers must comply with the largely top-down approach to quality. They tend to do whatever will enhance students’ prospects of getting employment in a particular market.

The educators and students I interviewed acknowledged that developing the ability to work and to think critically were both central to higher education. But they admitted that these goals were hard to attain. This was because of the country’s constrained socio-political and economic environment. Academics and students felt that they couldn’t express themselves freely and critical thinking was suppressed.

Stuck on a road to nowhere
The study illustrates how an over-emphasis on creating human capital – skilled and knowledgeable graduates – limits higher education’s potential to foster broader human and social development.

University education should do more, especially in developing countries such as Zimbabwe that face not just economic, but also socio-political challenges. Before building more universities and enrolling more students, authorities and citizens should consider what quality education means in relation to the kind of society they want.

It’s possible to take a broader view of development, quality and the role of higher education. This broader approach – one that appreciates social justice – can equip graduates to address the country’s problems.

The road ahead
Universities can’t change a society on their own. But their teaching and learning practices can make an important difference.

Because quality teaching and learning means different things to different people, people need to talk about it democratically. Institutional and national policies must be informed by broad consultations to identify the knowledge, skills and values they want graduates to have.

University teaching and learning should emphasise freedom of expression and participation so that students can think and act critically beyond university.

Also, academics don’t automatically know how to teach just because they have a PhD. Universities should therefore ensure that academics learn how to teach and communicate their knowledge. Curriculum design, student assessment and feedback, as well as training of lecturers should all support this goal of human development.

When universities see quality in terms of human development, their role becomes more than production of workers in an economy. It gives them a mandate to nurture ethically responsible graduates. These more rounded graduates are better equipped to imagine an alternative future in pursuit of a better society, economically, politically and socially.

Patience Mukwambo: Researcher, University of the Free State

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Current Affairs

Roadmap For African Startups

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Francois Bonnici, Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, explains how African impact entrepreneurs will continue to rise.


Does impact investment favor expats over African entrepreneurs? If so, how can it be fixed?

There is a growing recognition all over the world that investment is not a fully objective process, and is biased by the homogeneity of investors, networks and distant locations.

A Village Capital Report cited that 90% of investment in digital financial services and financial inclusion in East Africa in 2015-2016 went to a small group of expatriate-founded businesses, with 80% of disclosed funds emanating from foreign investors.

READ MORE | It’s Time For Africa’s Gazelles To Shine

In a similar trend recognized in the US over the last decade, reports that only 3% of startup capital went to minority and women entrepreneurs has triggered the rise of new funds focused on gender and minority-lensed investing.

There has been an explosion of African startups all over the continent, and investors are missing out by looking for the same business models that work in Silicon Valley being run by people who can speak and act like them.

In South Africa, empowerment funds and alternative debt fund structures are dedicated to investing in African businesses, but local capital in other African countries may not also be labelled or considered impact investing, but they do still invest in job creation and provision of vital services.

There is still, however, a several billion-dollar financing gap of risk capital in particular, which local capital needs to play a significant part in filling. And of course, African impact entrepreneurs will continue to rise and engage investors convincingly of the growing and unique opportunities on the continent.

READ MORE | The World’s Most Generous Billionaires Outside Of The US

What are the most exciting areas for impact investing and social entrepreneurship today?

After several decades of emergence, the most exciting areas are the explosion of new products, vehicles and structures along with the mainstreaming of impact investment into traditional entities like banks, asset managers and pension funds who are using the impact lens and, more importantly, starting to measure the impact.

At the same time, we’re seeing an emergence of partnership models, policies and an ecosystem of support for the work of social entrepreneurs, who’ve been operating with insufficient capital and blockages in regulation for decades.

Francois Bonnici, Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Picture: Supplied

The 2019 OECD report on Social Impact Investment  mapped the presence of 590 social impact investment policies in 45 countries over the last decade, but also raises the concern of the risk of ‘impact washing’ without clear definitions, data and impact measurement practices. 

In Africa, we are also seeing National Advisory Boards for Impact Investing emerge in South Africa and social economy policies white papers being developed; all good news for social entrepreneurs.

READ MORE | Naomi Campbell: Africa Is One Of The Leading Continents In The World

What role does technology play in enabling impact investing and social entrepreneurship?

The role of technologies from the mobile phone to cloud services, blockchain, and artificial intelligence is vast in their application to enhancing social impact, improving the efficiency, transparency and trust as we leapfrog old infrastructures and create digital systems that people in underserved communities can now access and control.

From Sproxil (addressing pirated medicines and goods), to Zipline (drones delivering life-saving donor blood to remote areas of Rwanda) to Silulo Ulutho Technologies (digitally empowering women and youth), exciting new ways of addressing inclusion, education and health are possible, and applications are being used in many other areas such as land rights, financial literacy etc.

While we have seen a great mobile penetration, much of Africa still suffers from high data costs, and insufficient investment in education and capacity to lead in areas of the fourth industrial revolution, with the risk that these technologies could negatively impact communities and further drive inequality.

READ MORE | Why Now Is The Time To Invest In African E-commerce

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