World Economic Forum On Africa (Travel Update)

World Economic Forum On Africa (Travel Update)

This post is from Tommy regarding his recent trip to the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa. Tommy had the privilege of representing the Global Shapers of Harare and connecting with world leaders as they converged to discuss how Africa can deliver economically to the world. Here's Tommy…

This past week has been more tightly packed then a Nigerian taxi cab. My wife and I were brilliantly blessed with a baby girl seven days ago! The morning after she was born, I left for Cape Town, South Africa to attend the World Economic Forum. Rachel somehow was okay with this, and more or less relieved that our little girl didn't decide to take her first breath while I was away (we named her Madison Lael). Needless to say, my new daughter has turned me into putty and I find myself smiling profusely all day long. Thank you Madison! Thank you God! And to my wife, you are stronger then me, I admit it.

World Economic Forum On Africa

I'm honored to be a part of the Global Shapers Harare Hub, which is an arm of the World Economic Forum for successful and high potential people in their 20's who are dedicated to improving the state of the world. Odert Kosimini (another Global Shaper) and I were invited to attend not only the World Economic Forum, but also to participate on the panels.

At the event, politicians, business tycoons, heads of state, and representatives of the largest NGOs in the world came together to discuss “Africa’s Promise to the world.”

Can Africa Deliver?

Tommy moderating the panel on Media at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013

I was honored to moderate the conversation on Africa’s Arts Culture and Media. With fellow Global Shaper Temesgen Gebru from Ethiopia on the panel, Yvonne Chaka Chaka (South African Super Star), Garth Japeth (CEO of Heartlines) and Tara Fela-Duroyoye of Nigeria, the exciting panel sparked a high degree of conversation and debate. The interaction focused on the fact that Africa shouldn’t necessarily wait for a business model or for an invitation to share it’s creativity. Rather, we should tell stories with arts and culture and use the platforms readily available.

The conversation about mentorship came up—that more and more people should invest in the arts, and those expressing them. It seemed to be a common point throughout the conference. In fact, the Minister of the Economy & Finance of Nigeria says that a priority place to invest in Africa is the creative industry.

Global Shapers from all over the world were privileged to listen to the Group Director of Sustainability & Strategy of Eurasia & Africa, William Egbe and Therese Gearhart (President of Coca Cola, South Africa). In the compact room, everyone was attentive to what they had to say. Coca-Cola has an incredibly fun but also serious focused corporate culture. William shared a few things about the values of Coca-Cola and how they hold onto them jealously. He mentioned a time that an employee slipped a cup of sugar into their purse and they were caught. "We fired her," said William. "It wasn't about the sugar, it was about our standards." The values that Coca-Cola holds resound with excellence. They've never viewed a new market as impossible—and that mindset shows in their expansive distribution.

"It's about creating little entrepreneurs on internal company projects, and focusing on the small things. Everything that happens in business and in life is really about human connection. It's important to be relational in all that we do while building a dream."

A few other highlights:

  • With presidents from countries like Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique, and famous businessmen roaming the Cape Town International Conference Center the networks and level of action is enormous. These are the kinds of people that are shaping Africa's future—no joke.
  • In the session on Unlocking Entrepreneurial Talent, Ashish Thakkar (founder of the Mara Group where 18 out of his 24 investment hubs are located in Africa) talked about how incubator facilities, mentorship programs, and platforms have a high place of relevance in Africa.
  • Jubril Tinubu (One of the first official Sponsors of Global Shapers) told his story of starting an oil trading business with $100 and growing it into an integrated supply chain oil company. He said, "Never underestimate the power of a good reputation. Treat one client well and it will spread."

There's too much to write about it one post but my new daughter, the impact talks, and stories from the World Economic Forum will continue to add color to this blog.

(photo via world economic forum)