Though many have long considered Africa as a primary target of world aid in order to promote development amongst its poorest nations, this attitude is beginning to change. With new voices in the continent rising to prominence on the strength of their entrepreneurial spirit, there has been a new influx of economic success that is changing the conditions of many Africans. Isabel dos Santos, a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist, is one of these success stories who is now seeking to pay her good fortune forward. In a series of initiatives and public speaking events, she has been steadily promoting economic development across the continent as a way of increasing quality of life for all Africans. Read on for a look at her work and how it is changing the lives of many.
Since her story often serves as an inspiration to those seeking to emulate her success, a brief look at the life of Isabel dos Santos is an instructive way to view the impact she is having through her work. Long a familiar face in the international community, she has built much of her career through her ability to serve as a leader across a range of different fields. She has founded and run numerous large firms over a twenty-year professional career that has touched areas of the telecommunications industry in addition to construction and finance. To balance the multiple endeavors for which she has become known she has relied on a knack for deal-making and knowledge of how to operate large-scale organizations.
Though she is from Angola, much of the above know-how stems from the entrepreneur’s time living abroad in England. She attended Cobham Hall, a noted private school in Kent, for primary and secondary education. Upon graduation she went on to attend King’s College in London. During her time at King’s College she studied electrical engineering, a concentration that helped develop her ability to solve problems while also complimenting her natural aptitude in the sciences.
Entrepreneurism as development
The businesswoman has spoken at length in recent public engagements on the power of business to drive development across the continent. She views the entrepreneurial spirit as being intrinsically tied to Africa and the traditional way of life of its inhabitants. This push towards business development is something she thinks could be a key driver of development in other areas of life, such as health and housing. Though she feels this level of success is within reach, she sees some obstacles in its path. One of the major obstacles in this case would be sexism.
Tied to her talks on entrepreneurism, dos Santos often speaks on the topic of sexism in the workplace and how it has not only affected her life but the lives of countless women throughout Africa. She notes that with half the population of the continent being female, any institutionalized resistance to women taking on leadership roles in the workplace can only serve to weigh down the progress so many have been working towards over the years. She has expressed many times that keeping women from achieving their ambitions is not only a personally detrimental occurrence for the women involved, but also a severe hindrance to the economy at large.
A push towards the future
In part due to her experience in the tech sector as well as her educational training in math and science, a particular focus of the businesswoman’s topics for public speaking center around the importance of Africans equipping themselves with the knowledge to participate in the world’s increasingly tech-centric economy. Through relaying first-hand accounts of the importance of computer-based technology, she seeks to impress upon her audiences the worth of learning proficiency in these areas. She refers to this global march towards reliance on tech as “digitalization” and sees it manifesting from low-level tech companies to cutting-edge research into artificial intelligence.
One of the benefits the entrepreneur sees in encouraging the pursuit of tech education is that it would help to increase Africa’s presence in the international economy. This would help to shift viewpoints of the continent from being a recipient of aid to being a valued contributor to the way in which the world conducts business. The pursuit would also serve to bring numerous jobs to the continent that have previously been unavailable to Africans. By using just a computer and access to the internet, areas with a depressed economy would have newfound access to jobs and wealth that would have been previously unattainable.
Power of a role model
Though the words of dos Santos pack a punch during her various speaking engagement at conferences and universities, some of her most powerful influence comes from her ability to model the results of hard work and determination. By serving as a role model to young entrepreneurs, she is able to provide proof that there are indeed viable paths to economic success within the continent of Africa.
This message is doubly powerful for the female entrepreneurs who hear her speak. In a world driven by an intricately interwoven economy, the connection between employment and development can sometimes seem tenuous. By showing others how economic success can lead to a personal ability to help family, friends, and oneself, the businesswoman provides a first-hand look into a roadmap for development. As more and more young people continue to hear her speak, the entrepreneur’s message will no doubt become even more widespread.
Though there are numerous paths towards development for those living in Africa, one increasingly important route is the ability for the continent’s citizens to earn money on the global scale. This can be done through a commitment to technological opportunities as well as utilizing the full potential of all Africans, regardless of ethnicity or sex. By following the careers of those who have found success already, such as Isabel dos Santos, young business-minded people will find their possibilities for a higher quality of life increasing substantially. Those who are interested in such development would do well to follow the examples set above.