News & Highlights

  • JULY 2022
  • Event

Africa-Focused Case Studies Highlight Fast-Changing Business Environments

Since the Africa Research Center launched in 2017, case studies have been essential to our efforts in supporting Harvard Business School with deepening faculty and student understanding of and exposure to management issues, trends, and practices in Africa. This year makes it 100 years since the first case study was taught at HBS. To celebrate the HBS Case Centennial, members of our community shared insights into what impacts Africa-focused HBS case studies have had both in the classroom and across wider, global academic and business communities. Watch our five-part video series featuring these insights below.

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Case Studies from Africa: Insights from Alumni Fola Laoye and Akinseye Akinola

Alumni Fola Laoye (MBA 1999) and Akinseye Akinola (MBA 2013) discuss their experience of the HBS classroom at a time when Africa-focused case studies were newly emerging.

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Case Studies from Africa: Insights from Mo Abudu, Chinua Azubike, and Senior Lecturer John Macomber

Mo Abudu the founder and CEO of EbonyLife, explains why being part of an HBS case study was important to her as a business leader. John Macomber, Faculty Chair of the ARC and Senior Lecturer in the Finance Unit, and Chinua Azubike, CEO of InfraCredit, also discuss the value of writing case studies on African companies.

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Case Studies from Africa: Insights from Temie Giwa-Tubosun and Peter Njonjo

In this video, Temie Giwa-Tubosun the founder and CEO of LifeBank, and Peter Njonjo, Co-founder and CEO of Twiga Foods, discuss working with the ARC on case studies about their companies and what participating in the case study process has meant for their companies.

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Case Studies from Africa: Insights from Helena Conradie and Gregory Rockson

In this video, Helena Conradie the former CEO of Satrix Investments, shares her experience and learnings from participating in the Satrix case study. Additionally, Gregory Rockson, Co-founder and CEO of mPharma, discusses the impact of the case study process on their companies.

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Case Studies from Africa: Insights from Anywhere Sikochi, Okendo Lewis-Gayle and Laetitia Tiani Vessah

Anywhere Sikochi, Assistant Professor in the HBS Accounting and Management Unit, and Okendo Lewis-Gayle, founder of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, explain the impact Africa-focused case studies have both within and beyond classrooms. Current MBA student, Laetitia Tiani Vessah also shares how Africa-focused case studies have enriched her MBA experience, and why she is excited about the rapidly growing number of such case studies and the future of learning at HBS.
  • JUNE 2022

Creating Emerging Markets Interview: Uche Orji

Uche Orji describes his education in chemical engineering and transition into an accounting career. He looks back on his early auditing jobs at Arthur Anderson (now Accenture) and his studies at the Harvard Business School. Mr. Orji then delves into his experience building organizations as the Financial Comptroller of Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) and the CEO of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). He discusses being resourceful and resilient, building trust with government entities, and how the manages its funds to maximize benefits to the public. This interview is part of the Creating Emerging Markets project which provides a unique research and teaching resource on business leadership in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East over recent decades.
  • June 2022

Virtual Book Talk with Felix Oberholzer-Gee

This June, the ARC hosted a virtual book talk with Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee on his new book Better, Simpler Strategy: A Value-Based Guide to Exceptional Performance, where he explained how companies can achieve better results doing less and chasing fewer ideas – those that truly make a difference. Professor Oberholzer-Gee stated that the most successful companies in the world ask one simple question: Will this new business idea create value for customers, employees, or suppliers? No matter how interesting the idea may sound, it’s not worth touching if customers aren’t willing to pay for it or it won’t create the kind of value that translates into financial success.
  • May 2022

Case Discussion: EbonyLife Media

This May, in celebration of the HBS Case Centennial, the ARC hosted a Virtual Case Discussion with HBS professors Andy Wu and Feng Zhu who led a discussion on their recent case on EbonyLife Media. The company’s CEO and Founder, Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu joined the session and provided additional insights on the dilemma and EbonyLife’s progress to date. Founded in 2012, EbonyLife began as a television channel on the Africa-wide direct broadcast satellite service DStv. By 2020, EbonyLife had produced over 5,000 hours of television content and Nigeria’s top-three highest-grossing movies. The case addresses how after more than 20 years in the media industry in the UK and Nigeria, EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu considered several strategic changes for her media company’s future.
  • January 2022
  • Creating Emerging Markets

Interview with first Nigerian Minister of Communication Technology

In her interview with the Creating Emerging Markets project, Dr. Omobola Johnson discusses her early upbringing and education, her consulting career at Arthur Anderson, her takeaways from her tenure as the first Nigerian Minister of Communication Technology under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, her experience in venture capital at TLCom Capital, and her role as the co-founder of WimBiz, a non-profit dedicated to empowering women.

New Research on the Region

  • July 2022
  • Case

Birla Carbon Egypt: Building Soft Power in a Foreign Country

By: Jeremy Friedman and Malini Sen

Birla Carbon, a flagship business of the nearly $60-billion global conglomerate and India-headquartered Aditya Birla Group (ABG), is one of the world's top manufacturers and suppliers of high-quality carbon black. The largest among its 16 manufacturing plants is Birla Carbon Egypt (BCE), situated in the port city of Alexandria. BCE started its operations in 1994, to become the first carbon black manufacturing unit in Egypt and the Middle East. Over three decades it has grown to become a leading exporter in the region, playing a significant role in the Egyptian economy. However, the journey has not been without its challenges as BCE has tackled political unrest and frequent changes in government, besides growing concerns about pollution. Given Egypt's recent volatile political history, would BCE be able to successfully continue to separate business from politics? More broadly, what would BCE's success or failure mean on a global scale? As India seeks to grow into a great power, how would its economic footprint abroad distinguish it from other great powers? Could BCE represent a new, Indian version of FDI?

  • June 2022
  • Teaching Material

Lifebank Nigeria

By: Brian Trelstad, Pippa Tubman Armerding and Wale Lawal

The aspiration of addressing maternal deaths in Nigeria, which were mostly caused by blood shortages, led Temie Giwa-Tubosun to found LifeBank in 2015. LifeBank developed an online platform that enabled hospitals to connect and purchase blood from local blood banks and fulfilled those orders through an around the clock team of dispatch riders. Over the years, LifeBank delivered a range of essential medical products including blood, medical oxygen canisters and medicines. However, the company had yet to break even and now needed to raise additional funding. LifeBank aimed to become profitable by 2022 and planned to grow its revenues 24x over three years. To achieve such growth the company needed to raise 10x more than the total amount raised since its inception. Giwa-Tubosun wondered how to achieve such growth and funding targets. What were LifeBank’s growth options? More importantly, what kind of funding opportunities were available to the company?

  • June 2022
  • Case

The SAH Group: The Time is Right

By: Juan Alcacer and Alpana Thapar

In January 2021, Jalila Mezni, cofounder and CEO of the SAH Group, was preparing to present the company’s future growth plans to its board of directors. The Tunisian company was a leading producer and distributor of personal care and packaged hygiene products. In 2019, it expanded further by entering the detergents market. By 2020, the company employed over 4,500 people and had a presence in 20 African countries. The Lilas brand had become a household name in Tunisia, outperforming brands owned by global players like Procter and Gamble. In detergents, SAH was steadily gaining ground over multinational consumer goods companies like Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, and Henkel. As Mezni looked ahead, she had to carefully evaluate three growth opportunities: introducing a range of kitchen cleaners, vertically integrating operations in the detergents business, and opening a subsidiary in Kenya. Which of these, if any, would be the right way forward for the SAH Group at this juncture?

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Johannesburg Staff

Pippa Tubman Armerding
Executive Director
Tafadzwa Choruma
Administrative, Research and Program Assistant

Lagos Staff

Wale Lawal
Senior Researcher