UCLA Host 2nd Annual Africa Growth Conference, An Emerging Giant

Daily Life / Events / News / April 22, 2012

For those of you who thought doing business in Africa was just a notion, think again!!! Power Player Lifestyle Magazine recently had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Africa Growth Conference at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. The summit brought together established as well as up and coming business professionals from both the public and private sectors to discuss current and future growth trends and opportunities in Africa.

While Africa is one of the largest continents in the world, boasting more than 54 countries, it is still in its fledgling stages for the vast and very viable potential that it has in terms of trade and commerce in the near future. Dean Andrew Ainsley opened the conference and welcomed attendees, while conference co-founder Patrick Terry and other graduates of the Anderson School moderated the various panels.

According to Dwayne Gathers, President and CEO of Gathers Strategies, Inc., approximately 40% of manufacturing and exports come from South Africa, there are numerous countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Angola and Nigeria which are primed for measureable economic growth in commerce, oil and gas, and even technology at about 3-7% annually in the next several years.

Factors such as ending of conflicts, increase in privatization and decrease in corporate tariffs contribute to making global business opportunities more favorable. Keynote speaker Tom Epley, author of the book “The Plague of Good Intentions” emphasized the importance of carefully evaluating and vetting and re-vetting the partnerships that are built when dealing in emerging economies and how critical it is to not underestimate the colossal cultural differences when doing business with people in other countries. Norm Martin of TGMI companies reiterated that point in addition to emphasizing the importance of having a long term game plan and vision and really developing and nurturing relationships with people over the long term 3-5 years and beyond. That, in his words, is really a key factor in the sustainability of your business.

International director and producer Leelai Demoz is very optimistic about shooting his first feature film in Ethiopia and about all of the possibilities for creating and engaging people across the continent and around the world with his film. Guy Kamgaing-Kouam, founder of MobileXL echoes the potential of end users receiving movies and other content through the increasing availability of technology in Africa. Attorney Wafa J. Hoballah, an expert in international law discussed the importance of really understanding some of the legislature that has been put in place regarding companies and individuals doing in business in Africa, and how to protect your business investments. Bobby E. Hines of The Downtown Los Angeles Export Assistance Center emphasized utilizing local human resources – people that translate, provide hospitality and basic necessities that are so necessary but are often overlooked-people that make doing business in a foreign country go smoothly. Additionally, Allison Germak Gatchev of Overseas Private Development Corporation (OPIC) explained the ins and outs of getting private equity to fund ventures while minimizing the risk factors involved. She also mentioned that renewable power resources, value-added manufacturing and mobile technology are industrial sectors that are on the rise. Richard Colback, President of Epic States reiterated funding and opportunities created by integration of public, private and non-profit sectors, while Eric Luchs shared the trial, tribulation and rewards of working in the non-profit sector helping those suffering from HIV/AIDS and Co-Founding Friends of Shamwari in Zimbabwe.

The conference was an overwhelming success and concluded with a reception in the Fowler Museum where panelists and participants continued their networking and conversation while being treated to delicious hors d’oeuvres and variety of delightful hand selected South African wines. We thank the committee for allowing us to partake in this monumental conference are certainly looking forward to next year’s events and to the progress of all of the participants and their business endeavors in Africa in the forthcoming year. – Report By Angela Gordon (Writer/ Film Producer).

Read more on Tom Epley book called The Plague of Good Intentions

Hundreds of academicians, economists, journalists, philanthropists, and bureaucrats have expressed their points of view on sub Saharan Africa. However to date no one has applied a life long experience of having actually achieved meaningful and lasting results to this subject.

Tom Epley is a turnaround CEO with an unparalleled track record of success in rescuing failing companies. All of the more than dozen organizations he rescued including as examples Technicolor, Paradyne, Bekins, Globespan, and AMISemiconductors—were dysfunctional and faced significant difficulties. Under Epley’s leadership, every one of these multimillion and billion dollar companies resurged and subsequently produced an immensely profitable return for its owners.

Resolved to demonstrate that the capabilities, techniques, and insights he used to turn around companies could be applied to improve the impaired countries of sub-Saharan Africa, he initiated a 4 year long project by traveling throughout South Sudan, interviewing dozens of militia leaders, governors, government ministers, local officials, members of the world aid community, and ordinary citizens, then subsequently upon his return combining intensive research and his own experiences and capabilities to create The Plague of Good Intentions.

In this book Epley articulately interweaves his discoveries and conclusions, conveying the following themes:

• The perception of the public and media sorely misses the mark when it comes to appropriate “fixes” for the maladies faced by certain struggling countries

• Evidence unassailably shows that the historic and current “fixes” have contributed to the five-decades-long decline of these countries

• Pragmatic business management knowledge and experience has substantial, critical application to country management

• Common sense, workable, and proven prescriptive remedies do exist; and are convincingly presented


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