Guest post by Ruby Veridiano, Manager of Communications & Marketing at SVC
This past weekend, I had the honor and privilege of representing SVC at the Harambeans Rome Forum. Harambe is a word that means bringing people, ideas and resources together. Indeed, the conference gathered some of the brightest leaders from the African continent glistening with brave ideas and armed with powerful execution to solve the continent’s biggest problems. From transportation to agriculture to clean energy and more, Harambeans are committed to finding innovative solutions to help lift Africa, transforming not only their countries, but the world.
Over the last decade, Harambeans have raised over $400 million dollars in capital, have provided over 3,000 jobs, and have gained over $1 billion in valuation.
But why invest in Africa?
According to the World Economic Forum, by the year 2100, 13 of the world’s largest populations will be in located in Africa, with the top 3 megacities being Lagos, Nigeria, Kinshasa of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. As economist Nchimunya Hamukona said during the conference, “This means that the future of the world will literally rest on what happens in the development of Africa”.
However, the dominant (and false) narrative of Africa that the world has come to know is one largely made up of rural villages and poverty. As author Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie says, there is a danger to a single story. The work that the Harambeans are doing is a direct counter to that one-dimensional narrative, offering not only effective, but profitable businesses that re-imagine the potential of African growth and transformation.
But African businesses seek access to capital, and they need investors who are not intimidated by the market. They wish for global investors to understand that the businesses being built in and for Africa are creating value across global markets. According to Bunmi Adekore of Breakthrough Capital, “Access to capital is the lynchpin of transformation. Encouraging local wealth is an urgent matter. We believe in lifting the middle class. We believe TRADE is much more effective than AID.” While philanthropy has a great presence in the African continent, Adekore insists that investment in for-profit businesses would be much more effective to nurture the value creation and innovation that is happening in an emerging market that can deliver a profitable ROI.
What I witnessed this past weekend is an electrifying energy that, as Harambean founder Okendo Lewis Gayle says, transforms the impossible into the improbable and the improbable into the inevitable. Much like our leaders within the SVC network, Harambeans are driven by their core values in servant leadership, deliberate audacity, and enduring optimism. I leave Rome with a deeper sense of purpose and connection to the work we do here at SVC, and look forward to the possibilities in driving the NEXT Economy not only in the United States, but around the world.
As the Harambe creed goes, “Yet in the end, the Africa our generation desires can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is ours.” Regardless of where we may live or where we come from, this creed can resonate with all of us as we do the brave work of transforming our world in our own unique ways. No matter what, the world we are working towards exists, it is real, it is possible, and it is ours.