Inaugural Hakeem and Myma Belo-Osagie African Business and Entrepreneurship Lecture

October 29, 2015

by Junius Williams

Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of Dangote Group, shared his vision for a vibrant and entrepreneurial Africa with the Harvard community. He highlighted the untapped and under-recognized potential sub-Saharan African economies possess, despite the challenges they face. Drawing an overflow crowd from Harvard and beyond, Mr. Dangote prompted the largely student audience to consider business careers in Africa and find ways to tap into the Continent’s many resources. Lagos-based Dangote Group represents one of Africa’s most successful conglomerates, with diversified activities in flour, sugar, cement, steel, and numerous other sectors. The Group’s business activities span over a dozen African countries like Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Zambia, with projects in Asia also being explored. Moreover, Mr. Dangote has spearheaded a multi-million dollar charitable foundation that has provided post-famine aid to Niger, contributed to flood relief in Pakistan, and encouraged leadership training in Nigeria.

Mr. Dangote’s talk on Thursday, 29 October 2015 constituted the inaugural Hakeem and Myma Belo-Osagie African Business and Entrepreneurship Lecture. This annual lecture is co-sponsored by the Harvard Center for African Studies and the Africa Business Club at Harvard Business School. Over 220 students, scholars, faculty members, business leaders, and journalists, from across the Harvard community and beyond, attended Mr. Dangote’s talk, moderated by Caroline Elkins, Oppenheimer Faculty Director of the Harvard Center for African Studies and Professor of History and of African & African American Studies.

This annual lecture sits at the forefront of the Center for African Studies’ recently launched African Entrepreneurship Program, which aims to incubate innovative ideas, integrate entrepreneurship into the classroom, and provide direct support and mentorship to Harvard students. Mr. Dangote’s inspirational talk, and particularly his emphasis on the value of entrepreneurial training for students, launched the lecture series in a meaningful way.