As the chief proponent of Africapitalism, I’m often asked to explain Africapitalism and what the philosophy means in basic terms. In a nutshell, I state that it is about “doing well and doing good”. But as with any concept, it is better demonstrated than described, better practicalized than theorized.
The latest announcement that United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc and Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) Plc – companies with significant investment from Heirs Holdings – are the two leading stocks for consideration by investors, bring Africapitalism to life, illustrating and proving that businesses CAN benefit both shareholders and other stakeholders in the community – ordinary men, woman and children whose lives our companies improve.
Africapitalism champions for the private sector to play a leading role in the continent’s development. It espouses that long-term investments in strategic sectors be made to not only generate economic profit, but also result in social prosperity. At Heirs Holdings, our investments and all of our activities are guided by Africapitalism. It is considered in everything that we do.
Many years ago, as far as 2004, when I used to run a Bank called Standard Trust Bank, we were trying to expand into Ghana. Our presentation to the Bank of Ghana at the time, centered around our core mission to democratise banking in Ghana. We wanted to bring banking and financial services to the level of the average man, woman and youth. We wanted to make banking accessible to all. We did not want to provide financial return to our investors in STB, but also wanted to create some sort of developmental impact in Ghana itself, something much bigger than profits alone.
Fast-forward to when we started Heirs Holdings in 2010. At our very first strategy session, while brainstorming about what we were going to do, it was very clear to all of us that everything we did would be focused on achieving what we labelled as the double bottom line – profit and prosperity,. How did we do it?
i) First was to ensure that the investments we made would provide commercial return but must also have a developmental impact – we have been able to do that across different sectors.
ii) The selection of the different sectors that we invest in today is rooted in this fundamental principle. The identified sectors are those that we felt would give us returns but also the ability to create the maximum level of progressive impact on the continent.
Today, we have done the same across 20 countries in Africa. We have invested in healthcare, in agriculture, in real estate, in hospitality, in financial services, in oil and gas, in power, etc. Though we originated from a financial service background, we have since expanded our portfolio beyond this sector. We have made tremendous impact not only in providing returns for investors but also having positive impact on the communities and countries where we invest in.
Transcorp has grown to become the largest listed conglomerate in Nigeria, investing for the long term, even in times of strong headwinds and uncertainties. As the largest power generator in the country, we are contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy, putting light in homes, schools and hospitals, improving the quality of life for all Nigerians and powering Nigeria’s industrialization. We will not waiver because we are investing in Africa’s future.
In a nutshell, the concept of Africapitalism is our fundamental ethos as a pan-African proprietary investment firm, and it has worked tremendously well for us. I invite you to come on board.