African Business Roundtable sends one message to the African Youth: Welcome to the Board
The African Business Roundtable (ABR), set up in 1990 by the African Development Bank has long since become and remained the foremost institution promoting the interests of the African private sector. The champion of the local industry, both large and small, the ABR has not slowed down its efforts in bringing to the international stage the impressive potential that lies in African zeal and diligence.
Thirty-two years on, the ABR is keeping with the times in every way possible. It's latest move in this direction is the direct and immediate inclusion of the youth into its board membership. Sitting currently on the board are leaders of industry from all over the world - presidents of Banks and Stock Exchange markets, Founders and CEOs, Oil & Gas magnates, etc. It is this very membership that is convinced of how much the younger generation has to offer to the economy and world in general, given the right opportunity. The rapid rise in the (tech) startup ecosystem in Africa, led by entrepreneurs under 30, is only further evidence of the promise this demographic wields.
Africa Business Communities spoke with members of the African Business Roundtable on the advantages of tapping into this new assemble of intellectuals:
Dr. Thomas W. Laryea, Legal Counsel, Orrick, USA: It is imperative that the ABR provide seats on its board for young professionals, who can better inform the ABR’s thinking and practices for the future. However, the term “youth” in this question may be ambiguous if it is intended to mean persons below the age of 18. As a professional business association, I think that the ABR should consistently retain its professional business characteristic across its Board membership. Accordingly, I would not be in favor of the ABR Board including seats for “youths” purely for the sake of that inclusion.
Dr. Mima Nedelcovych, Chairman, AfricaGlobal Schaffer: The ABR was founded way ahead of its time, when the African-born private sector was in its infancy. Today African born and bred businesses are mature and able and willing partners to do business with each other and with the rest of the word. Having been ahead of the curve so much with the visionary mission of Babacar Ndiaye, the ABR must now stay ahead of the rapidly changing tide. Youth are the future so the simple answer is there must be entrepreneurial youth on the Board!
Goodie M. Ibru, Founder, Ikeja Hotel, Nigeria: Obviously, our youth is the way to go. Many companies are springing up across the continent lately, and they are led by young, energetic men and women driven by ideas and passion for what they do. They are also determined to change the story of Africa. These youth are already playing some roles in the ABR and I see them doing more in the coming years. They will not only have a seat on the Board of the ABR, they will actually lead the ABR, just like we expect them to play leadership roles across the continent at the national or corporate levels.
N. Justin Chinyanta, Chairman and CEO, Loita Group, South Africa: This is an imperative. Given the appalling unemployment statistics of Africa's youth and the fact that the future belongs to the youth, we must find ways to integrate them onto the topmost governance levels of the ABR, including the board.
Mahad Ahmed, Founder, AME Trade, United Kingdom: As an SME member of the ABR and in our line of work, having access to like-minded professionals from different countries in Africa is key. I personally think we all need to adapt and move with the times, and having young professionals involved has always brought good results. If you look at what's happening in Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Town and other cities, the emergence of knowledgeable, educated youth is really inspiring. With so many tech hubs, once again the youth is the main driver and is essentially the demographic dividend. Certainly higher education institututions have a major role to play and we are quite lucky to have some really good universities.
Dr. Mohamed El Sahili, CEO, Medland Hospital, Zambia: I would say that the youth are eligible to apply for board membership at the African Business Roundtable. We have youths all over the Africa taking up seats on various boards, government positions, and even parliamentary seats. In my interactions with young people, I often urge them not to hesitate to apply for such positions. The only limitation comes when the youth question their own abilities and shy away from applying for top positions. I always insist on conducting due diligence on the requirements and criteria needed for any career opportunity, then apply and allow the process to flow as constituted. You never know, a member of the younger generation may be selected to join the board or even be chairman if they have the expertise, meet the requirements and have the commitment. Anything is possible.
About the African Business Roundtable
The African Development Bank Group set up the African Business Roundtable in 1990. Today the ABR is Africa’s foremost and continent-wide association of businesses and business leaders, and is the representative of the African Business Society to the United Nations. An independent, non-partisan, non-profit private sector funded organization, The African Business Roundtable is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and is the only organization representing the African Private Sector within ECOSOC.
Ever embracing strategic alliances and fresh perspectives, the African Business Roundtable is welcoming new members to its organization, and individuals and businesses may contact the Secretariat to communicate their interest.
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