Archived: Why You Need To Attend This Year’s Wharton Africa Business Forum


One great problem the internet unintentionally solved was to make it easier for like-minded groups of people to find each other across the globe and communicate. A woman in Berlin, a teenager in Abuja and man in Johannesburg can now join a Facebook page, Twitter chat or WhatsApp group to share their passion for knitting 1980’s themed quilts using polyester blended yarn. Niche groups today can connect and build relationships virtually and never feel alone about their novel interests.

What is still being worked out today is how do this in person. How do we find people passionate about our non-mainstream interests and connect with them in person? How do we engage and speak through body language, eye contact and laughter?

I’m not sure about knitting or quilts, but if you’re someone passionate about connecting with people concerned about the prosperity and progress of Africa then you should attend this year’s Wharton African Business Forum (WABF) at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania on November 18 – 20, 2016.

Now in it’s 24th year, the WABF is the longest running student-organized Africa-focused business discussion. The conference hosts an array of leaders in business, entrepreneurship and social enterprise to share their experiences fostering collaboration across industries and sectors, and developing entirely new genres of solutions from and for Africa.

What I enjoy about the concept of WABF is the focus on solutions for Africa. The Western-led conversation on Africa is so overwhelmed with negative images and stories of hopeless that being someone focused on the continent’s progress can feel novel. This an opportunity to connect with a community of people optimistic about the future.

Last year I was honored to be invited to moderate a panel discussion with entrepreneurs across Africa about how we use our “Grits, Smarts and Hustle” to persevere in building enterprises that serve the African market. This year, Alpha Bah, ZMedia Tech Group founder and CEO (The parent company of ZNews Africa) will join the media panel on “Growing Audiences at Home and Around the World.”

The 24th WABF will feature powerful speakers, including keynotes from:

  • Acha Leke, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company Johannesburg & Co-founder, African Leadership Network
  • Sacha Poignonnec, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Jumia
  • Ambassador Herman Cohen, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs & President & CEO, Cohen and Woods International
  • Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Co-Founder, Andela & Co-Founder, Flutterwave
  • Fred Swaniker, Co-Founder, African Leadership Network

We hope to see you there. Feel free to say hello.


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