Sir Richard Branson and Tony O. Elumelu to headline inaugural Convergence Africa conference
NAIROBI, Kenya, September 22, 2011 — Legatum (www.legatum.com), a private international investment group, and Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, today announced the launch of Convergence Africa, a high-profile one-day conference, headlined by globally-renowned champions of entrepreneurs Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group; and Tony O. Elumelu MFR, former Group CEO of United Bank for Africa, Chairman of Heirs Holdings Group and Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. Convergence Africa will take place on December 8th at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, followed by the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship Gala Banquet. Tickets and attendance information for both events are available at www.ConvergenceAfrica.com.
“Entrepreneurs represent Africa’s future,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “I’m constantly inspired by the ambition, determination and passion of entrepreneurs. Convergence Africa is a wonderful platform to bring together entrepreneurs and investors to accelerate growth across the continent.” He continued, “I’m delighted to be able to participate in this inaugural year and look forward to meeting many of Africa’s brightest business leaders.”
Convergence Africa is the event that brings together the entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers and businesspeople who will drive Africa’s growth. In addition to Sir Richard Branson and Tony Elumelu, speakers include Fred Swaniker, Founder of the African Leadership Academy; and prominent investors, international journalists and seasoned entrepreneurs. The heart of the Convergence Africa conference is a unique series of Master Classes, conducted by experts in their fields and moderated by well-known international journalists, covering topics most relevant to entrepreneurs, investors and policy-makers. Master Class speakers include, among others:
• Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa, Founder, Hoja Law Group
• Magatte Wade/Founder, Adina and Tiossano
• James Mwangi, CEO, Equity Bank
• Nik Nesbitt, Founder, KenCall
• Bame Pule, Pan-African Private Equity Investor, Actis
Convergence Africa will culminate in an exclusive session of Investor Speed Dating, designed to match investors with a selection of the brightest entrepreneurs and their businesses in a series of rapid-fire pitches for funding. Fifteen venture capital and private equity firms from across Africa and overseas, including principals from Actis, Development Partners International, GroFin, Heirs Holdings, Springhill Equity, and many others will each hear pitches from amongst more than 30 pre-qualified potential investee companies.
“Convergence Africa is where capital meets opportunity, bringing investors and entrepreneurs face-to-face and creating a platform for making connections and sharing best practice,” said Alan McCormick, a Managing Director of Legatum. “Given the importance entrepreneurship in fuelling Africa’s continued growth, we believe Convergence Africa is the perfect complement to the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship.”
The Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, (www.AfricaAwards.com), the continent’s most prestigious business award, immediately follows Convergence Africa. Now in its fourth year, the Africa Awards programme recognises and rewards business leaders who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and qualities required to succeed in business and who are the inspirational role models for the next generation of African entrepreneurs. This year the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship expanded to include every country across the continent and more than 3,300 businesses submitted entries from 48 countries. A Grand Prize of US$ 100,000 and five other awards of US$ 50,000 will go to the winning applicants, based on evaluation of company profitability, return on investment and growth; long-term business strategy; leadership, culture and values; investment in employees; innovation to address market needs; and contribution to the community. The Gala Awards ceremony will conclude by honouring the ten finalists and winners in the presence of an international audience of leading business people, investors, policymakers, and entrepreneurs.
The official sponsors of Convergence Africa and the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship are Legatum, Omidyar Network, the Coca-Cola Company, and Kenya Airways. Additional sponsorship opportunities as well as tickets to both events can be found online at www.ConvergenceAfrica.com and www.AfricaAwards.com. Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Legatum.
Jo Crawshaw, africapractice
Hamish Banks, Legatum
Kelly Mason, Omidyar
Legatum is a private investment group with a twenty-five year heritage of generating and allocating capital and ideas that can help people to lead more prosperous lives, and which applies its investor’s expertise to a long standing involvement in the sustainable development of communities around the globe. For more information, please visit Legatum’s website at www.legatum.com
ABOUT OMIDYAR NETWORK
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $400 million to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, property rights, consumer internet, mobile and government transparency. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.com
ABOUT THE COCA-COLA COMPANY
The Mission of the Coca-Cola Company is to refresh the world, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and to create value and make a difference. The Coca-Cola Company is committed to empowering women entrepreneurs through the 5 BY 20 program which aims to give millions of women opportunities to reach their potential, to support their families and to strengthen their communities – and inspire millions more to do the same. The Coca-Cola Prize for Women’s Entrepreneurship will recognize and reward, with $50,000, an outstanding woman entrepreneur from the field of applicants to the Africa Awards. To learn more, visit www.thecoca-colacompany.com
ABOUT KENYA AIRWAYS
Kenya Airways is the Official Airline of the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship. Kenya Airways is widely regarded as the leading airline in Africa, with the broadest route network and a service standard that has seen it win African Airline of the Year a record number of times and which is a member of Skyteam, the second-largest airline alliance in the world. To learn more, visit www.kenya-airways.com
CONVERGENCE AFRICA KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:
ABOUT SIR RICHARD BRANSON
Founder, The Virgin Group
Sir Richard Branson is Founder of the Virgin Group of companies. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands and has expanded into many diverse sectors from air and ground travel to telecommunications, health, space travel and renewable energy through more than 200 companies worldwide. In 2005, Branson started Virgin Unite, the Group’s non-profit entrepreneurial foundation, which works with partners to create new approaches to social and environmental issues. Virgin Unite has also helped to incubate a number of global leadership initiatives, including the Elders, the Carbon War Room, and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.
ABOUT TONY O. ELUMELU, MFR
Chairman, Heirs Holdings Limited
Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation
Former Group CEO of United Bank for Africa
Tony Elumelu is widely acknowledged as one of Africa’s most influential business leaders. Tony is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited (http://www.heirsholdings.com), a private investment vehicle, which operates a diverse portfolio of investments across Africa. He is also leading the renaissance of African philanthropy, through the recent creation of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, whose objective is the promotion and celebration of excellence in business management, entrepreneurship and leadership across Africa. Tony’s corporate reputation was founded on his role in shaping the African financial services industry, as the driving force behind the United Bank for Africa Plc. Under Tony’s leadership, UBA evolved into a leading African financial services institution, transforming from a single country focused bank into a pan-African institution, which serves over 7 million customer accounts, in 16 African countries and operates across three continents.
ABOUT FRED SWANIKER
Founder & CEO
African Leadership Academy
Fred Swaniker is an entrepreneur with deep experience in education and leadership on the African continent. He is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is the Founder & CEO of African Leadership Academy, a world-class, pan-African secondary school that aims to develop future generations of African leaders. More recently, Fred founded and led the launch of Global Leadership Adventures, a leadership development program for youth with sites in 10 countries. Fred also gained entrepreneurial experience when he was founding Chief Operating Officer of Synexa Life Sciences, a biotechnology company in Cape Town that today employs 30 South African scientists.
Fred was recognised as one of 15 “top emerging social entrepreneurs in the world” in 2006 by Echoing Green. He was chosen as one of 25 TED Fellows in 2009 and is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network.
Fred holds an MBA degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where he was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top ten percent of each graduating class. Fred also holds a BA degree magna cum laude in economics from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.