L-R: Founder, Grace Lakes Partners, Ladi Delano; founder Ciuci Consulting and DG, Delta Economic Summit Group, Chukwuka Monye; Enterprise Services Director, Microsoft, Wale Olokodana; CEO, House of Tara, Tara Fela-Durotoye; Professor of Public Policy at Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, Mthuli Ncube; and Chairman/CEO, Genesis Electricity, Akinwole Omoboriowo II, at the Oxford Business Forum Africa, United Kingdom…recently.

Ugo Aliogo

Tara Fela-Durotoye and Chukwuka Monye joined other African business influencers at the Oxford Business Africa Forum, hosted by Oxford University’s Said Business School on recently to discuss spurring sustainable economic development across the continent.

The conference brought together a number of business heavyweights, Africans in the Diaspora and students from across the United Kingdom. The aptly themed “Unreasonable Africa” forum discussed the sort of out-of-the-box thinking that is required to successfully conduct business on the continent with real life examples from a panel of experienced speakers. Key opportunities and challenges in agribusiness, energy, health, infrastructure, security, trade facilitation, ICT, finance and other sectors were discussed in detail.

The CEO/Founder, House of Tara International, Tara Fela-Durotoye, has built the organisation to a multi-billion naira business that has empowered over 5,000 women through its rep programme. Stanford University recently published a case study on the beauty company, which has 19 stores across the country.

Founding Partner, Ciuci Consulting & Director General, Delta Economic Summit Group, Chukwuka Monye, is the innovation strategist and consumer intelligence expert behind over 180 projects that have led to the growth of many products, services and organisations including financial institutions, telecom value added companies and others such as city of Lagos monopoly and Luxe Bath & Body.

While Fela-Durotoye spoke about mentoring as a critical component in empowering youth as typified in House of Tara’s sale representative model, Monye tackled it from a capacity building perspective, advising that employers must invest in training their employees. Both business leaders who started their companies while young encouraged the youthful audience to be tenacious about being excellent at whatever they choose to do.

Other representatives from Nigeria were Wale Olokodana (Enterprise Services Director, Microsoft Nigeria), Ladi Delano (Founder, Grace Lakes Partners) and Akinwole Omoboriowo II (Chairman/CEO, Genesis Electricity).

The keynote speakers, Trevor Manuel (Senior Advisor, Rothschild Group & Former South African Cabinet Minister) and Dolika Banda (Independent Consultant & Former Acting MD and Regional Director, CDC Group) stressed the importance of integrity and the need to incentivise African intellectuals in diaspora to come back home to help the continent.
In Dolika Banda’s words: “Although some of us will go back to Africa and physically put back together the pieces, we must understand that some of us do not have to be in Africa to help Africa.”

The forum was able to effectively engage participants on the issues of enabling, navigating and scaling businesses in Africa towards sustainable growth and development.