Sounding off on Tony Elumelu's new Africapitalism

Nigerian banker and philanthropist Tony Elumelu and his call for a change from aid to investment with "Africapitalism", incited Devex readers to chime in with their ideas. Photo by: USAID / CC BY-NC

This is Tony Elumelu’s vision for Africa: He wants to see a continent that attracts investment more than aid.

The Nigerian banker and philanthropist recently spoke with Devex Editor Rolf Rosenkranz about his plans to change the way business and development are done in the region. His foundation is soon opening an institute to help build the capacity of African entrepreneurs to establish pan-African companies.

“We have a philosophy we call Africapitalism. It’s about the middle point between business and philanthropy,” Elumelu’s told Rosenkranz. “The world used to think to do well, you can’t do good. But we have come to realize — and I think a lot of people with a business background have — that there are better ways of impacting a huge number of people through business practices, not necessarily philanthropy.”

Limpo Liywalii and several other Devex readers applaud Elumelu’s efforts.

“We need more like this gentleman if Africa has to move up the self-reliance ladder,” said Liywalii.

While Lily Nyariki agrees with Elumelu’s approach to fighting poverty in Africa, she said there is a more critical issue that needs to be addressed with equal measure.

“Most Africans are poor and vulnerable,” she said. “What they need is literacy skills and yet most African Government and aid agencies have not put in resources to tackle this serious vice. Africa needs literacy programs to enable better entrepreneurs!”

Katherine J. Kaye meanwhile noted the untapped management capacity of African women whose unpaid work for running the household and engaging in cash-generating activities accounts for 60 percent of a country’s gross national product.

“[W]here is this enthusiast looking for his management candidates?” Kaye asked. “I’ll bet it won’t be amongst women or anyone who recognises the way in which unpaid production of assets motors a national economy — but I’d love to be wrong.”

Stella Okoronkwo shares Kaye’s view about the need for more support in building the capacity of African women.

“[S]ome of us on the front line of sustainable development want to maximize our potentials and empower other women but no one wants to help us,” she said. “I have already helped many women with very little personal money but I feel like what I have done is only a drop of water in the ocean. Who is out there to come and see what I am doing and mentor me? I guess there are other women change agents in the society. Let’s help one another.”

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.