News & Highlights

  • JUNE 2019

Faculty Immersion in Nigeria and Kenya

This June, 26 Harvard Business School Faculty took part in a weeklong immersion to Nigeria and Kenya. They had the opportunity to visit and learn from close to 20 African companies and hear about both the unique challenges these companies face as well as their innovative business practices. Further, they participated in the 2019 HBS Fung Global Symposium in Lagos, connecting with over 100 local alumni and business leaders in the region. Faculty also met with the Vice President of Nigeria and the President of Kenya during their time in the region. HBS’ Africa Research Center contributed significantly to the intellectual content of the program and will have the opportunity to engage a number of the faculty participants on new case studies that emerged from the visit.
  • MAY 2019

Seni Sulyman: Building an Africa tech hub

As Vice President of global operations at tech company Andela, Seni Sulyman (MBA 2014) is working to rescript Africa’s role in the world by creating highly skilled African workers who will attract foreign investment and help build the businesses of the future. Faculty recently got a glimpse into this effort during their visit to Andela as part of the 2019 Faculty Immersion in Africa. “Thirty years from now, I want to enjoy living here,” Sulyman says. “For me, that means building businesses that will alter the trajectory of society and thousands and thousands of people.”
  • APRIL 2019

HBS New Venture Competition

Wil Eyi (MBA 2019) from Gabon was awarded one of the top prizes in this year’s New Venture Competition. His venture, MyToolbox Technologies, is a B2B labor marketplace for the construction industry that provides a platform where subcontractors can secure work and empower their workers. MyToolbox Technologies received The Dubilier $75,000 Grand Prize as well as the $5,000 Crowd Favorite Prize. The annual Harvard Business School New Venture Competition is open to all students and alumni interested in launching new business and social impact ventures. The School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and its Social Enterprise Initiative, in partnership with HBS Alumni Clubs & Associations, host the annual competition. This year, 266 teams entered and 12 finalist teams competed in the 22nd annual HBS New Venture Competition that took place in Klarman Hall on April 23rd. The new venture pitches were vetted by more than 200 judges, including many HBS graduates, from fields such as venture capital, private equity, law, accounting, philanthropy, impact investing, and social entrepreneurship.
  • FEBRUARY 2019

2019 Africa Business Conference

The 2019 Africa Business Conference was held on February 15 and 16, 2019 at Harvard Business School. This year's theme, "Africa Forward: Forging New Alliances for the Future" was chosen given key economic and geopolitical events across the continent in 2018, including the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the landmark peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Over 1,200 guests attended the conference, attending diverse panels on private equity, healthcare, entertainment, consumer goods, and infrastructure on the continent. Guests also heard keynote addresses from Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity and former Minister of Health of the Republic of Rwanda; Mr. Vincent Le Guennou (MBA 1997), Managing Director, Founding Partner and Co-CEO of Emerging Capital Partners; and Mr. Momar Nguer, President of Marketing & Services, Total S.A., and Member of the Total Executive Committee. The Africa Business Club also hosted the New Venture Competition, highlighting the diversity of entrepreneurs on the continent today. Ship’nbag, an automated matching marketplace fulfilled by travelers who buy and ship orders on their way back and thus provide a secured low-cost shipping service, won the first prize after a careful review of hundreds of applications.

New Research on the Region

  • August 2019
  • Case

ClearScore, 2018

By: John R. Wells and Benjamin Weinstock

In October 2017, Experian, one of the “Big Three” consumer credit reporting agencies in the United Kingdom made an offer to acquire ClearScore for a total consideration of £293 million. Founded by Justin Basini, Dan Cobley, and Nigel Morris in 2014, ClearScore was the UK’s first company to offer consumers full credit reports and scores for free. ClearScore had accumulated over 5 million customers since its launch on July 15, 2015, and was growing rapidly. In the final quarter of 2017, it was set to reach break-even and deliver £27 million in revenues for the year. Was this the time to sell?

  • 2019
  • Book Chapter

Origins and Development of Global Business

This chapter explores how business enterprises have been powerful actors in the spread of global capitalism between 1840 and the present day. Emerging out of the industrialized Western economies, global firms created and co-created markets and ecosystems through their ability to transfer a package of financial, organizational, and cultural assets, skills, and ideologies across national borders. They have been major drivers of trade growth, which they often organized within their own boundaries. They have been shapers of, as well as responders to, globalization waves. They were also actors in periodic de-globalization waves, mainly because they functioned as reinforcers of gaps in wealth and income rather than disrupters of them. They were disappointing institutions for knowledge and technology transfer. In recent decades, the domination of global markets by Western and Japanese firms have shifted to a situation in which they competed as equals with firms based in China, India, the Arab Gulf, and elsewhere in the non-Western world. This trend is likely to accelerate as the growing fragility of institutional structures in the United States and the European Union further weakens the competitiveness of firms based in those regions.

  • 2019
  • Book Chapter

The Great Divergence and the Great Convergence

This chapter provides a new lens to the extensive debate among economists and economic historians concerning why the West grew rich and the rest of the world lagged behind as modern industrialization took hold in the 19th century. The literature has focused heavily on quantitative research on comparative income levels, especially GDP per capita and real wage levels as well as on broad brush explanations related to institutions, culture, and human capital development. This chapter argues that there needs to be closer engagement with the processes of how such factors translated into generating productive entrepreneurs and business enterprises. It explores in particular why the development of modern business enterprises in Africa, Asia, and Latin America lagged; how they started to emerge more successfully in the interwar years only to be set back by failed government policies after World War II; and how the second global economy from the 1980s provided many more opportunities for firms outside the West to catch-up with innovation and competitiveness.

See more research

Johannesburg Staff

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