African Diasporan MBA students from leading Western business schools have affirmed their conviction in Africa’s potential for fostering small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs). 70 percent will work in Africa after graduation, according to a new survey by Jacana Partners, a pan-African private equity firm that invests in entrepreneurs, builds successful SMEs and delivers sustainable financial and social returns. Of that 70 percent, half plan to become entrepreneurs and start their own company, as opposed to working for an existing business.
89 percent of all African respondents selected the growing consumer story as presenting the greatest opportunity in Africa, above both natural resources and advancing technologies. As a result, more than a third selected consumer goods and financial services as sectors that offer the most attractive opportunity for starting a new business.
Simon Merchant, Chief Executive Officer at Jacana, commented: “These survey findings provide a welcome indication that the majority of talented young Africans from among the MBA Diaspora will be returning to Africa post-graduation – and more importantly, they will be starting their own businesses. Small businesses are the key engines of economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation in Africa and management talent is a critical component for SME success. By combining strong management teams with increasing access to valueadd private equity capital, we can harness the potential of the returning MBA Diaspora to build successful businesses, create jobs and support long-term economic growth.”
African respondents to the survey originated from 19 different African countries, spanning the North, Sub-Saharan regions and South Africa. Half of the respondents that indicated that they would be starting their own African businesses were female.
Commenting further on the survey findings, Sara Leedom, Co-Chair of the Africa Oxford Business Network at Oxford Saïd Business School said: “When Jacana approached us to research the appetite for working in Africa post-graduation among our Africa Business Network students, we were delighted to be able to lend a voice. I am not at all surprised by the results – the majority of our members view Africa as offering a compelling career opportunity for business graduates, particularly at a time when the environment for growing businesses is slow in the West. The Continent provides a wealth of opportunity and we are increasingly seeing interest from a broad range of non-African nationalities in joining our Africa Business Network, attracted to that potential.”