News & Highlights

  • 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.
  • December 2021
  • Alumni

Tipping Point: A coffee company that enables consumers to send gratuities to its growers

At one end of the global coffee supply chain are the diners who gather for brunch at the sidewalk tables outside Chloe’s Cafe in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood. Regulars there order the fluffy banana-walnut pancakes and steaming hot cups of Kahawa 1893 coffee. At the other end of the supply chain are the unseen farm laborers—most of them women—who tend the coffee trees each day on the hillsides of rural Kenya. Margaret Nyamumbo (MBA 2016) founded Kahawa 1893 in 2017 to shorten the distance between these Kenyan farmers and American coffee drinkers and to invest in the women who make the industry run.
  • DECEMBER 2021
  • EVENT

Case Discussion with Professor Anywhere Sikochi: Harambe

In December, the Africa Research Center hosted a virtual case discussion with Professor Anywhere (Siko) Sikochi on Harambe, a non-profit organization whose mission is to build an ecosystem to identify promising young African entrepreneurs and provide them access to training, markets, capital, and support networks. From 2007 to 2021, Harambe has grown to a network of 367 entrepreneurs, known as “Harambeans.” They have collectively raised over $800 million in capital, created more than 3,500 jobs, and claimed three of the six African startup unicorns in 2021. There is mounting pressure for Harambe to evolve to take advantage of its momentum, the changing entrepreneurship landscape in Africa, and increasing investor interest. Given this, Okendo Lewis-Gayle, founder and chairman of the organization, has been pondering the next steps for Harambe to maximize its impact in Africa.
  • September 2021
  • EVENT

Case Discussion with Professor Shikhar Ghosh: Twiga Foods

This September the Africa Research Center hosted a virtual case discussion with Professor Shikhar Ghosh on Twiga Foods, a leading agricultural produce supplier in Kenya offering services to mostly informal retailers. Under Peter Njonjo, a co-founder and Twiga’s new CEO, the company is considering multiple options for expanding its business, including offering packaged foods and services like insurance. Njonjo must also decide the ideal team and organizational structure for supporting Twiga’s growth plans.

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New Research on the Region

  • April 2022
  • Teaching Material

Tempur Sealy International (A, B & C)

By: Benjamin C. Esty and Daniel Fisher

Teaching Note for HBS Case Nos. 718-422, 718-423, and 718-424. The cases explore the long-term relationship between Tempur Sealy (TPX, a mattress manufacturer) and Mattress Firm (MFRM, a bedding retailer and TPX's largest customer). For almost 20 years, the firms enjoyed a mutually beneficial and commercially prosperous relationship. Yet in August 2016, Steinhoff (a large, South African retailer) made an offer to acquire MFRM. Whether this acquisition will affect the symbiotic relationship that had existed between TPX and MFRM was the subject of intense speculation. While some industry observers believed it would increase MFRM's bargaining power vis-à-vis TPX, others argued it would not alter the balance of power, and that the incentives to collaborate would remain intact.

  • March 2022
  • Case

Swvl: Smart Mobility for the Masses

By: Krishna Palepu, Esel Çekin and Menna Hassan

The case focuses on strategy and governance issues at SWVL, a tech-enabled mass mobility marketplace. It describes the journey of CEO and Chairman Mostafa Kendil on his journey from founding to the company’s listing on Nasdaq. Since its founding in Egypt in 2017, Swvl produced a series of great successes with its innovative solution that promised safe, reliable, and affordable mass commuting trips in markets where such a service was unavailable. In a short time, Swvl was able to raise notable amounts in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) investor funds, expand geographically to neighboring and faraway markets, and become the fastest growing unicorn in the region. Expanding the company’s existing regional footprint, Kandil and his team were pursuing their ambition to become the world’s number one mass mobility provider. They worked with Queen's Gambit, a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company), to take the company public on Nasdaq. They established both statutory and advisory boards that would not only guide the company on its growth plans but also showcase its strong compliance agenda—a priority from the outset. Once listed, Swvl would become the second and the youngest MENA-based company to ever go public on Nasdaq. With this, Swvl accepted a challenging responsibility: it would have to position itself among well-established U.S. public companies on one hand and overcome the notorious reputation MENA-based companies had for corporate governance on the other. To emerge successful in global financial markets, Swvl had to ensure that its marketplace design was lean enough to allow the company to grow profitably without compromising customer experience on its rides. Swvl also had to assess its expansion strategy, particularly in terms of how fast and how far it could launch in new markets without mishap. Moreover, it had to make sure the company had the right advisory and accountability governance structures that would effectively guide the company on growth, expansion, service delivery, and putting customer safety at the top of the list for all decisions it took.

  • March 2022
  • Case

MTN: Unlocking Value While Driving Socioeconomic Progress

By: Benjamin C. Esty, Pippa Tubman Armerding and Dilyana Karadzhova Botha

On March 10, 2021, Ralph Mupita the new CEO of MTN Group, Africa largest telecommunications company, presented the group’s 2020 annual results and unveiled a new strategy to “drive growth and unlock value.” Despite MTN’s leadership in most of its markets, the company’s share price was trading at 15-year lows putting Mupita under pressure to accelerate a turnaround. The case considers his plans to execute against the new strategy by spinning off MTN’s fintech business and creating more shared value in its markets while at the same time building valuable technology platforms and delivering industry-leading connectivity. Could MTN’s leadership team achieve all four priorities within five years as promised, or were they trying to do too much too quickly? Did they have the right structure and team in place to do so? Although Mupita was convinced that swift action and dramatic change were needed to succeed, there were skeptics both inside and outside the firm.

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Johannesburg Staff

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

Lagos Staff

Wale Lawal
Senior Researcher