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Isabel dos Santos Speaks on Economics, Business, and Philanthropy

Economic Growth, Ideas from Isabel dos Santos

As one of the most successful entrepreneurs operating in Africa today, Isabel dos Santos has built a reputation for forward-thinking ideas. That spirit of innovation has not only allowed her to excel in her business endeavors but also in her work in a variety of other areas, such as philanthropic involvement and economic stimulation. As recognition for these efforts has grown over the years, she has increasingly been able to share her experiences with others through interviews, panel invitations, and live addresses. In order to help highlight the impact the businesswoman has had on the world around her, we’ve summarized some of the thoughts that have arisen from her talks below.

Business areas

When analyzing the work of the entrepreneur, one thing that often jumps out to observers is the sheer breadth of her efforts in business. Where many successful business leaders are known for picking one field in which to concentrate, Isabel dos Santos has shown an ability to operate across a number of concentrations. These fields of focus include work in media, finance, retail, telecommunications, and energy. With such an extensive list of industry specialties, the businesswoman is able to bring extensive experience to the many executive and board positions that she holds.

Though she has formed and participated in many companies over the years, there are a few which bear special mention as their successes have underscored the entrepreneur’s own skillsets. Perhaps most notable in this area is her position on the board of directors of Unitel, the largest telecommunications company in Angola. Through her years of work as one of the leaders of the company, the businesswoman has not only been able to create a profitable corporate operation but has also expanded access to communications throughout rural and remote areas of her home country.

Importance of technology

When discussing her business operations, Isabel dos Santos often singles out the role of technology in both her own successes and the more general promotion of economic activity. On this topic, she has spoken at length about the importance of connecting individuals in Africa with the broader world. These talks, which have taken place at conferences, universities, and even before the European Parliament, have underscored the businesswoman’s firmly held belief that access to information is one of the most important drivers of success. She has shown this in her own operations at Unitel by not only expanding cell coverage but also through initiatives aimed at bringing high-speed internet infrastructure to the region.

To Dos Santos, one of the most important considerations here is the ability of technology to improve economic conditions for all. Through access to the information that can be found on the internet, quality of education can improve and access to employment can become more widespread. New opportunities can emerge as well, such as the rapidly expanding electric car industry which would be untenable without a host of technologies that are replacing traditional internal combustion engines. In this way, technology is not just something that improves a particular product or helps a company increase profits, it can be a driving force in changing the economic landscape of some of the world’s poorest countries.

Focus on charity

Though the companies that the businesswoman runs have accomplished quite a bit with respect to improving conditions in Angola and throughout Africa, she is also a firm believer in the importance of charity and has spoken at length on this subject as well. One of her main focuses in this area is the empowerment of others through providing some of the essentials of daily life. This is done with an understanding of how a lack in basic necessities, such as clean drinking water, access to medical care, and adequate nutrition, can be devastating to an individual’s ability to improve their conditions in other areas of life.

Gender equality is another area of focus for Isabel dos Santos that she pursues through her companies and philanthropic efforts. These efforts are undertaken both to help individuals improve their own wellbeing and also to help improve the general level of economic wellbeing throughout the areas served. When speaking on the subject, the entrepreneur likens the issue to one of simple economic theory, noting that a growing workforce is able to produce more goods and services and help raise quality of life for all. In areas where women have traditionally been excluded from many areas of the workforce, initiatives that benefit women serve to benefit the entire economy as well.


The businesswoman is a firm believer in the power of education and credits her own schooling with helping her succeed in the world of business. The education to which she refers was largely conducted internationally, with her primary and secondary education taking place in England. She attended university at King’s College in London where she studied electrical engineering, a pursuit which prepared her well for her focus on technology and problem-solving later in life.

Beyond her work with Unitel, the entrepreneur’s commercial endeavors include a position on the board of ZON, a satellite TV operator. She now owns a share of the company, which made headlines by acquiring the rights to distribute Forbesin many Portuguese speaking countries, including Angola, Mozambique, and Portugal. She has also served as Chairwoman for Sonangol, the oil company operated by the Angolan state. She continues to maintain major stakes along with the oil company through mutual Netherlands-based European Law holdings.

With extensive expertise in a range of business endeavors, Isabel dos Santos has shown time and again that she has the ability to think outside the box in whatever she sets her mind to. Though this ability has helped greatly with the formation of commercial projects, it has also been greatly influential in her ability to bring about change through philanthropic initiatives. The nature of these projects, which have focused on issues such as gender equality, economic stimulus, and the providing of basic essentials, again shows the entrepreneur’s ability to work in a variety of different areas. Through the above overview of the businesswoman’s work, readers should be able to gain a better understanding of some of the ways she is continuing to build on a reputation created through both success and a desire to help others.