Leading Ivestment Company in Africa

Are you discontent with the current version of capitalism and concerned about rising neglect for society?

If you are, you are not alone. Capitalism, in its current form, must be improved.

This morning, I arrived France to participate on a panel at the 16th edition of Les Rencontres economiques d’Aix-en-Provence – a leading gathering of politicians, economists, and business people – themed “Are there different forms of capitalism?”. I join other speakers including the former Managing Director of the World Bank, Mamphela Ramphele and President of the Circle of Economists, Jean-Herve Lorenzi, to debate this timely topic.

As I cautioned at the start of the panel, we must begin to spend less time focusing on the theoretical definition of capitalism while ignoring its real effects across the world. We are all witness to what is happening in America and in Europe: we have seen that some feel included in the dividends of capitalism while some feel excluded. The reality is that people feel different ways about capitalism as it is practiced in today’s world, and we must engage this audience to make sure that capitalism is modified to address the development needs of today’s societies.

Africa has been a key participant in the global economy. But Africans question what they read in the papers about the “growth perception”. The rising GDP index will tell you Africa’s rise is being fueled by commodities, but the reality is that because the processing of these commodities is not done on the continent, there’s little to no value that is added locally. This is one effect of globalization, or the free market of capitalism.

Some people are beginning to seriously consider alternate ways to bringing development to the continent, development that is inclusive and felt by all. One of the more popular of such movements is ‘Shared Purpose’. Shared Purpose is beginning to interest people as it calls for all stakeholders -policymakers, private sector, civil society, friends of Africa – to come together to play a key role to address issues Africans have suffered despite rising GDP.

The economic philosophy I advocate for, Africapitalism, encourages such engagement between a diverse range of stakeholders to jumpstart development in a manner that addresses the primary objectives of business people AND also society’s needs. Africapitalism calls on the private sector to understand that they have an important role to play on the continent through investments in certain sectors that create both economic profits and wealth for society. It is also up to government to realize that it is unable to create employment for all but needs the private sector and SMEs to create these jobs. Government must also reengineer itself and deal with issues such as regulation, and creating an enabling environment to sustain the success of the private sector. After all, what is good for private sector is good for everyone.

In the 21st century, instead of engaging in mere conceptual definitions of capitalism, we should be looking at the impact of capitalism. We should aim to bring prosperity to everyone so that the way the masses in the global community engage and view the world today is different from the world Karl Marx wrote about. Ordinary people do not relate with the concept and ideals of capitalism and this needs to change.

At the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we committed $100m to support African entrepreneurs to develop the continent and create jobs for others because they best know the needs and challenges of African local economies and can come up with solutions to these issues. In the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme application, each applicant must identify one of the SDG goals that their business will solve. This is a good example of aligning private enterprise with social good.

The impact of what we do through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is that we help to catalyse others like us to support entrepreneurs like many of you. We are building the TEEP Capital so that we can (with help from others) commit to seeding more entrepreneurs like yourself. Sectors like ICT, Education, Healthcare, Agriculture – we can’t ignore these spaces because of the potential they hold to transform the continent.

In conclusion, all the panelists agreed that development ought to be defined more comprehensively than just GPP growth. It should include important indices reflecting issues like social equity, gender equality, environmental sustainability, quality of governance, etc. We need a more robust definition of development so that we are on the right path to sustainability. I believe Africapitalism offers what is missing in today’s capitalism.”