News & Highlights

  • October 2020

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 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

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.
  • April 2020

MBA Perspectives: Brice Fodoup, 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, Cameroonian student Brice Fodoup (MBA 2021) describes his experience that led him to HBS and his plans to work in consulting before bringing his expertise back to Africa to start his own company.

New Research on the Region

  • November 2020
  • Teaching Material

Bridge International Academies in 2020: Battling Headwinds to Solve Africa’s Education Problems

By: Caroline M. Elkins, Tarun Khanna and Joyce J. Kim

By 2020, Bridge International Academies and its "school in a box" model had achieved great scale. By leveraging digital technology and public-private partnerships, they had reached one million children across Africa and India through hundreds of schools. However, the organization encountered controversy as well as unexpected challenges resulting from COVID-19.

  • 2020
  • Book Chapter

Luxury Tourism and Environmentalism

This chapter examines the evolution of luxury tourism and its environmental impact. Whilst mass tourism is widely seen as environmentally damaging, the impact of luxury tourism is nuanced. During the first stage of the growth in the nineteenth century, the numbers of people involved were small, and some companies understood the need to conserve the environment. Later, luxury hunting and fishing decimated wildlife populations, but the sector produced visionaries who created the concept of photographic safaris. Environmental education became a major theme of the luxury tourism firms. More recently, there has been a proliferation of ecotourism ventures, whilst conventional luxury hotel chains have pursued sustainability certification. Yet scaling has expanded environment footprints, whilst the embrace of the rhetoric of sustainability has degraded the meaning of the concept.

  • October 2020 (Revised October 2020)
  • Case

AfricInvest: A Pan-African Investment Platform

By: Victoria Ivashina and Youssef Abdel Aal

The case is set in December 2018, when Ziad Oueslati, co-managing director and co-founder of AfricInvest, a leading pan-African private equity firm headquartered in Tunisia, was reflecting on the future direction of his firm. AfricInvest started as a traditional small and mid-cap private equity fund, but over the years had expanded into multiple adjoined investment strategies. At the end of 2018, the team saw an opportunity in the venture capital (VC) space, but while some were adamant about the need to raise a VC fund, others were reluctant to add yet another strategy to AfricInvest's diverse investment strategies. The case presents a detailed insight into AfricInvest's journey from a $10 million Tunisian fund, to becoming a prominent regional player operating throughout the African continent with $1.5 billion of assets under management. Among other issues related to the firm’s growth, the case provides insights into the challenges of operating in such a wide and varied geography as the African continent. The case also offers details on their multiple investment strategies, ranging from small-cap SME focused funds, to sector-specific funds, cross-border funds, and private credit. The case explores the synergies and challenges associated with such a wide-reaching investment platform. This is described against the backdrop of the collapse of Abraaj, a leading emerging market private equity firm, in a scandal that shook the investment community in the region. The case also touches upon the role of development finance institutions (DFIs) as investors in emerging markets and the challenges of defining and measuring impact investing. The opportunity of launching a pan-African VC fund in the context of the recent collapse of Abraaj brings to the forefront several strategic questions for AfricInvest’s co-founders: Should they keep expanding into new strategies, or would it be better to roll back their existing ones to focus only on their flagship private equity funds? Were the synergies and opportunities that came from being a platform enough to offset the risks, or was their focus being spread too thin by operating numerous diverse strategies?

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