Leading from the Frontier: The 5th Oxford Africa Business Conference


Sarah Caddy

This weekend saw our dedicated Oxford Business Network Gong team (Tom Griffiths, Sarah Nicholas and me) at the Said Business School, networking amongst 389 delegates incorporating presidents, academics, business leaders, media – and the odd egg-bearing political protestor.

The conference marked the fruition of a six month-long relationship with the business school’s Africa group, sparked during the research we undertook with Jacana Partners, which found that 70% of African MBA students would like to return to Africa to work after studying. Of that number,  over half intended to start their own business.

Business was the theme of the day, with Dr. Mthuli Ncube, Vice President and Chief Economist of the African Development Bank, opening the morning’s keynote with the forceful affirmation that: “Africa is a place where business can be found”. He continued by calling for the unleashing of “a class of African entrepreneurs” through joint ventures with foreign investors that would build business and place Africa firmly at the forefront of solving the global economic crisis.

Supporting the endeavours of those entrepreneurs who responded to the Jacana survey, Andile Ngcaba, Chairman at Convergence Partners advised Said’s MBA students looking for jobs in the African technology industry to go and create their own businesses across the continent. In his call to action, he said:  “Entrepreneurship is in the mind. Embrace failure; don’t let it punish you.”

Fortunately, the OBN Africa MBA students had no ‘failure to embrace’; the conference, which featured H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda as keynote speaker, was a raging success.