Harvard Business School’s Africa Business Club Pursues a More Inclusive Africa

While the story of Africa's economic growth has been amply celebrated in recent years, the Harvard Business School’s Africa Business Club (HBS ABC) saw a gap in inclusivity and sustainable progress in Africa’s story. Defining inclusivity in terms of socioeconomic segments, industries, gender, and sectors, HBS ABC sees an opportunity to promote growth that cuts across sectors, will generate multiplier effects in the African economy and will promote political stability --led by the private sector.

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To highlight how public and private sectors can intersect to create greater impact, HBS ABC organized the 17th annual Africa Business. The conference, themed “A More Inclusive Africa: The Pursuit of Progress For All,” garnered over 1,450 participants and convened some of the best and brightest minds in African economic growth and innovation.

The conference career fair attracted hundreds of students from around the globe seeking to connect their skills and aspirations with exciting opportunities on the continent. Keynote presentations by Acha Leke, Ndidi Nwuneli, Ken Njoroge, and Fred Swaniker highlighted the enormous interest in bridging the inequality gap in Africa, both on the part of private sector actors as well as those in the NGO sector and in education. Speakers and attendees alike explored questions, including:

  • ‘How can businesses promote and benefit from inclusive growth?’;  

  • ‘How should leaders across the private-public spectrum weigh the tradeoffs oftentimes involved in pursuing inclusive growth?’; and

  • ‘What types of leadership are needed to achieve this progress?’

With a strong focus on African entrepreneurship, the conference awarded cash prizes to two companies that are accelerating growth and job creation in Africa and that are seen as models in this regard. The conference’s ABC Leadership Excellence Award was given to Ismail Douri, Co-CEO at Attijariwafa Bank based in Morocco. Complementing the panel discussions on trade, leadership, and industry sectors such as infrastructure and agribusiness, the conference also organized panels on the business case for early childhood education, African consumers, and the business of sports in Africa.

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The Harvard Center for African Studies provided material and financial support for the 17th Annual Africa Business Conference. Learn more about the Center for African Studies’ workshops and conferences