World Economic Forum in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania May 4th continued.

February 1, 2013

Interesting afternoon session on change models and case studies for change.

Great presentation by Alejandro Litovsky on “Pathways to Scale” using the examples of Green technology and sustainability projects.

6.30pm

Just concluded the last session of the day with the YGL/Professor Klaus Schwab (Chairman/President of the World Economic Forum). Spirited discussions on change and the possibilities in emerging economies. The session is alive and all appreciate Schwab taking this much time to engage the YGL community. There is a discussion on a conference theme which re-positions Africa. We are taking a group photo.

We are off to dinner with the community. The Forum starts tomorrow.

I would like to hear back from you on what kind of issues you think need to be raised at the Forum. Tomorrow I’m speaking at a discussion group on Entrepreneurship and innovation; Thursday, I moderate a session on the Water-Food-Energy nexus.

Later….

World Economic Forum in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania May 5th

May 5, 2010

11:00am

Just finished a session on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Africa. Spoke on how Africa has plenty of entrepreneurs what they need is capital to fund their projects. Its odd that we talk about people surviving on $1 a day but we don’t recognise that to do that one needs enormous amounts of resilience, creativity, and focus- the kind of assets any entrepreneur deems essential to business success.

The only difference is that the one is an entrepreneur by necessity while the other is by opportunity.

One lady panellist made an informative presentation on the kind of transformation work her women based NGO is doing in Tanzania in the area of micro finance, modernising agriculture and advocacy for women’s rights.

Camerapix’s Salim Amin made a strong case for the media to change the perspectives on Africa. Showcase more opportunity and less of the images of hunger, disease and death.

Allon a South African entrepreneur moderated. He has an interesting background running an enterprise incubation center for over 200 companies-
he is looking to develop that platform to 2,000 companies.

The World Economic Forum main sessions begin today. Dar is flooded with visitors to the Forum- they really have done a good job especially with government averting a major public sector strike that would have caused big disruptions.

Forgot to mention yesterday the interesting people who have become YGL’s – among them Australian swimming champion Ian Thorpe.

The sessions have began now….

More later….

World Economic Forum in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania – May 4th continued….

May 5, 2010

Interesting afternoon session on change models and case studies for change.

Great presentation by Alejandro Litovsky on “Pathways to Scale” using the examples of Green technology and sustainability projects.

6.30pm

Just concluded the last session of the day with the YGL/Professor Klaus Schwab (Chairman/President of the World Economic Forum). Spirited discussions on change and the possibilities in emerging economies. The session is alive and all appreciate Schwab taking this much time to engage the YGL community. There is a discussion on a conference theme which re-positions Africa. We are taking a group photo.

We are off to dinner with the community. The Forum starts tomorrow.

I would like to hear back from you on what kind of issues you think need to be raised at the Forum. Tomorrow I’m speaking at a discussion group on Entrepreneurship and innovation; Thursday, I moderate a session on the Water-Food-Energy nexus.

Later….

World Economic Forum in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania – May 3rd and 4th

May 4, 2010

Monday (3rd) and Tuesday (4th) are dedicated to the Young Global Leaders Annual Summit 2010.

Monday 3rd:

Began the day with welcome remarks from Lawrence Masha (Tanzania Minister for Home Affairs and Dr Ahmed Salim Salim former Tanzania Diplomat and now Ex Dir of Julius Nyerere Foundation). Fascinating stuff. Masha is 40; good to see a young and articulate African give a good impression to the 300 YGL’s in attendance.

We were divided into several clusters that will embark on impact journeys across various communities to review several social economic projects.

I belong to the water and environment cluster and on monday 3rd we visited an operation of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group two hours outside Dar. Great bus journey with some brilliant YGL’s, great discussions too on the difficulty of measuring impact in such short time frames, and the scope of the development challenges that both public, NGOs and private sectors face.

Tuesday 4th:

We are now in the Mlimani City Conference Centre giving cluster group feedback. Interesting suggestions from Arthur Mutambara (Deputy PM, Zimbabwe), Von Jones (Obama’s former Green Tzar) is managing the session.

Conclusion is that there has to be an national vision to address the development strategy of the nation here, better stakeholder cross sector participation for greater understanding and impact and also stronger linkages with YGLs with ability to make a contribution; where they have relevant skill sets.

11.55am – Going in to plenary session now…..

Arcelor Mittal’s Boldness and the Challenges to African Trade

March 18, 2010

While attending the recently held FT/Arcelor Mittal Boldness in Business Awards 2010, I was reminded again of how much harder an African entrepreneur needs to work in order to gain a seat at the table of global business leaders. Standard Chartered won in our category by the way.

In an invitation only gathering of industry titans, only one other lady apart from me shared the same skin colour. We had more in common with the numerous black waiters attending to us at this high profile gala that I feared at any moment I would be asked by a guest for a champagne refill, or a tray of canapés.

With hindsight, I was curious as to how we got nominated for one of the categories, given that our annual turnover most likely is less than a month’s salary of some of the CEO’s present. I was struck by the irony of the presence of many corporate executives who run huge conglomerates that do business in Africa but there wasn’t a single African corporate leader with large scale operations in the UK.

On the way to my hotel, that evening, I reflected on the distance African businesses need to travel to seriously be considered as global industry players. I also thought back to the journey I had undertaken as a small African company trying to have our coffees listed on the shelves of UK supermarkets.

I remember spending the better part of 2005 travelling to the UK from Uganda in an effort to persuade UK supermarkets to consider listing our coffee on their shelves. At that time, the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, was busy bringing Africa to the centre stage of world attention through his Commission for Africa initiative and the G8 Summit in Gleneagles.

The irony for me was both comical and inescapable. Here was Prime Minister Blair challenging the world to give more aid and make trade fair; yet as an advantaged English educated African entrepreneur, I had to make fourteen trips to the UK because supermarket buyers were sceptical about doing business with an African based coffee company. This scepticism that many of the continent’s entrepreneurs face, is continuously reinforced through television imagery and reports that portray Africa as nothing more than an assembly of corrupt and disaster prone societies.

I remember watching an anchor of a UK breakfast show thank Bob Geldof for all he was doing for Africa through Live Aid, and the implication was clear: without Geldof and Bono, Africa would not be getting the attention and support they were receiving. The impression was unmistakable- Africa was a child and unable to survive without ‘wet nurses’ like Geldof and his band of well meaning but, I believe, misguided celebrities. Little wonder then that this paternalism translates to pessimism in business meeting rooms.

Ironically, I also found that well meaning trade advocates were equally misguided in failing to appreciate the extent to which non tariff barriers impede African exports to the global market. And as if this was not enough, the African producer on the continent whose psychology has been shaped by years of dependency presents a complex stumbling block at origin. The latter was particularly instructive for me.

Seven years ago, we began our journey working with coffee farmers in Western Uganda. I believed, at the time, that they would automatically embrace our vision of trade led community transformation. I was wrong. Instead, the farmers greeted us with outright suspicion and cynicism. Why were we there? What was this talk about farmer training, premium prices, and investing 50% of our profits in sustainable projects? Were we part of an international NGO? If not, then how could we deliver? Only International NGOs with big 4×4 wheel drive vehicles deliver!

This shocked us to the core. We had believed that a Ugandan social enterprise model would generate an immediate community buy-in, but instead here we were confronted with decades of cynicism and suspicion occasioned by a history of exploitation and abuse. In hindsight, it was me and my team who were naïve and assuming.

For decades, the coffee farmer has been one of the most exploited producers in the world. Of the approximately $140 billion (2008 figures) that global coffee sales represent; only $16 billion goes back to the producer nations. Over $120 billion in value is surrendered to the consuming nations. With such economic scenarios being played out across many other commodities, one might be inclined to ask: “who in fact is the real donor here?”

Despite improvements in coffee prices today, farmers still earn only a fraction of the end consumer price. For example, of the £2.00 a consumer pays on average for a cup of coffee in London, that uses approximately 5-7 grams of ground coffee, the farmer in Uganda gets £0.70 for a 1 kilogram of green coffee beans.

Scaling the tremendous structural barriers to trade, especially the psychological ones that are continually reinforced by negative media imagery is an immense and costly challenge. How can people view the continent as a source of entrepreneurship and innovation when all they see are distended stomachs and begging bowls?

If African businesses are to achieve global recognition then the debate must shift to a serious review of the realities that undermine trade with Africa and the inadequacy of most policy responses. Africans need the space to shape and the respect to inform this debate. Without this, African countries will remain producers of what they do not consume and consumers of what they do not produce.

The Boldness in Business event was co-sponsored by Arcelor Mittal – a Lakshmir Mittal owned company. Mr Mittal is from India and one of the richest men in the world. The last time I checked the policies that underpinned India’s rapid economic growth and spawned off so many Indian global business leaders, have very little in common with those promoted in many African economies. It will take tremendous and sustained boldness by African entrepreneurs to begin attending events like these as opposed to serving the drinks.

Andrew Rugasira
Founder/CEO
Good African


Banner
Banner
Banner
jQuery('.scrollingitems').cycle({ fx: 'fade', timeout: 12000, after: onAfter });