Africa’s development has become somewhat of a personal mission. It is my belief that Africans should take primary responsibility for our own development – because, to be blunt, no one is going to develop Africa but us. I also believe “charity” as conventionally defined is not the best solution for our continent. Instead, we need a “new philanthropy” that focuses on building the capacity of the private sector to create jobs and wealth – and that this leads to sustainable development.
I firmly believe that we should be strategic and catalytic in our philanthropy. It is not, and should not be, about simply providing funding, as this is only one of many possible tools for impact. I would encourage entrepreneurs to give their time and experience, and use their influence, to create impact. The projects we support, for instance the Nigeria Fast Growth 50, demonstrate our desire to embrace global opportunities and practices, while ensuring that as much as possible of the value adding aspects of Africa’s resource wealth stay on our continent.
I often tell the story of how a $5 million investment in a small, dying bank 17 years ago spawned UBA, a multinational, pan-African financial institution that has created 25,000 jobs, generated wealth in communities all across Africa, expanded finance for trade, created stronger financial infrastructure for investment and economic growth, paid taxes to national and local governments to support public services and given millions of customers control over their financial lives. Imagine if we created 1,000 home-grown, pan-African companies like UBA in Africa – now that is impact. That is what drives me, and that is why we started the Foundation.
I set up the Foundation to tackle some of the problems African entrepreneurs face, as entrepreneurship is my passion. I would also like to encourage more of Africa’s high-net-worth individuals to give and support their passions in an institutional manner. It is my belief that home-grown African philanthropy should be setting the agenda for the continent’s development. It is my hope that the Foundation will inspire businesses and entrepreneurs to actively play more of a role in Africa’s development. This is my vision of “Africapitalism”.