News & Highlights

  • JANUARY 2021
  • EVENTS

Virtual Case Discussion with Professor Brian Trelstad

On January 18th the Africa Research Center hosted a virtual case discussion with Senior Lecturer of Business Administration Brian L. Trelstad on a new case, LifeBank Nigeria. The company is a Nigerian medical logistics start-up and is aiming to improve access to essential medical supplies in the country. Professor Trelstad focused the conversation on social entrepreneurship and systems change, engaging with participants about the choices that the founder Temie Giwa-Tubosun faces. Over 30 alumni and friends of the school joined the session and enjoyed a lively discussion.
  • OCTOBER 2020
  • MBA Experience

MBA Voices: A Nigerian Student’s HBS Experience—Interview with Zainab Raji, MBA/MPA-ID 2022

MBA Voices is a collection of community perspectives that provides prospective students with insight into life at HBS. In this interview, Nigerian student Zainab Raji, MBA/MPA-ID 2022, talks about her upbringing, education and career. Born and raised in Nigeria, she attended Emory University and then worked at Deloitte’s Risk Advisory Practice in Atlanta, Georgia and subsequently at McKinsey across different African locations. Raji shares highlights from her first year in the MBA/MPA-ID Program, including her work at the HBS Africa Business Club and the HBS Women in Investing Club, as well as her summer internships. The Master in Business Administration/Master in Public Administration-International Development (MBA/MPA-ID) is a three-year program that combines the core curricula of the HBS MBA and HKS MPA degrees with a wide range of elective options from both schools.
  • October 2020
  • EVENTS

24 Hours of Harvard

Worldwide Week at Harvard showcases the breadth of Harvard’s global engagement through academic and cultural events with global or international themes. On October 7th-8th, 2020, Harvard broadcasted 24 Hours of Harvard, which featured 24 consecutive hours of around-the-clock and around-the-world events and activities. As part of this event, the Africa Research Center shared a live overview of its activities led by the Center’s Executive Director and team members followed by a pre-recorded session on Leadership in Uncertainty that was part of the webinar series COVID-19: Reflections, Challenges and Next Steps, organized by the ARC. The session focused on leadership lessons for African businesses in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and how to thrive in this new world. The HBS professors shared their relevant research while the African business leaders provided local context and discussed the steps leaders on the continent can take to adapt themselves and their businesses to these unprecedented times.
  • October 2020
  • MBA EXPERIENCE

MBA Perspectives: Abena Nyantekyi-Owusu, MBA 2021

MBA Perspectives is a collection of HBS student profiles that highlight student experiences across different geographies and industries. These profiles provide prospective students with insight into life at HBS. In this article, Ghanaian student Abena Nyantekyi-Owusu (MBA 2021) describes how she wanted more exposure to people from all over the world and how that led her to HBS. Abena wants to be a leader developing technology solutions that are good for Africa and create go-to-market strategies – in education, fintech, agriculture, or health care – designed specifically for the continent.
  • June 2020
  • EVENTS

Africa Webinar Series - COVID-19: Reflections, Challenges and Next Steps

In June 2020, the Africa Research Center hosted a four-part webinar series titled COVID-19: Reflections, Challenges and Next Steps. The series brought together alumni and friends from across Africa and provided the opportunity to get to know HBS professors who are doing work related to the continent. HBS professors John Macomber, Mattias Fibiger, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Shikhar Ghosh, Anywhere (Siko) Sikochi, Laura Alfaro, Euvin Naidoo and Suraj Srinivasan shared insights and discussed how to respond to the global pandemic. The series attracted over 4,000 attendees from 50+ countries.

New Research on the Region

  • February 2021
  • Case

Lidya: Bringing Nigerian FinTech Innovation to Global Small and Medium Enterprises

By: Lauren Cohen and Spencer C.N. Hagist

Lidya CEO Tunde Kehinde must size up options for the expansion of his novel lending practices that drastically reduce the credit cycle in his developing Nigeria, and determine if expansion into Eastern Europe will prove successful or disasterous.

  • February 2021
  • Case

Yellow Digital Retailers, Ltd.: Providing Solar Electricity to Transform Rural Africa

By: Lynda M. Applegate, Frank V. Cespedes and Michael Norris

In 2020, Mike Heyink and Maya Stewart, co-founders of the Pay-as-you-Go Solar company Yellow were considering how to grow their startup. They had achieved some success in their first market, Malawi, and had recently entered Uganda, where business was slower. What did they need to do to succeed in new markets? How could they continue to grow the business in Malawi?

  • January 2021
  • Case

Saham Group: It's In the Genes

By: Christina R. Wing and Gamze Yucaoglu

The case opens in August 2020 as Moulay Mhamed Elalamy (Mhamed), CEO of the Saham Group (the Group), a pan-African investment company that operates a variety of businesses out of Morocco, contemplates the Group’s identity, its investment strategy, and how to navigate the existing businesses through volatility. Since Mhamed’s father Moulay Hafid Elalamy (Moulay Hafid) had laid the foundations of the Group in 1995, its insurance arm became the largest insurance company in Morocco and expanded into the rest of Africa, and the Group diversified to include call centers, real estate, and agriculture. In 2013, Moulay Hafid Elalmy left his executive duties to take on the role of Minister of Industry, Trade, and New Technologies. The case talks about Mhamed’s entering the family business at the age of 23 and his rise through the ranks to eventually assume the CEO position. In 2018, Mhamed decided to sell the insurance businesses, the Group’s crown jewel, and the Group became a private equity house. Since then, Mhamed and his sister Anissa Elalamy were focused on making sure that business continued to prosper. While the Group was settling into its new identity as a family office focused on private equity, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the difference between the father and son’s risk appetite and management styles: Mhamed was focused on value preservation and risk-reward analysis, while Moulay Hafid’s saw opportunities everywhere. This raised questions for the future and the family contemplated its risk tolerance and allocation, governance, and succession. The case introduces the different family members and executives and their points of view and asks: What difficult conversations did the Elalamys need to have to ensure shareholder value and continued success in the upcoming generations?

See more research

Johannesburg Staff

Pippa Tubman Armerding
Executive Director
Dilyana Botha
Senior Researcher
Tafadzwa Choruma
Administrative, Research and Program Assistant

Lagos Staff

Wale Lawal
Senior Researcher