Tweets from Rome: Weaning Africa off Aid; One Enterprise at at Time

In response to my recent call in the Huffington Post for less focus on Aid to Africa, and rather an increase in support for investments and enterprise, there were a lot of cynical comments, and other more respectful responses.  I had to further clarify my stand that unlike Dambisa  Moyo who believes that Aid is dead, I am more of the opinion that Aid is dying , and still has an important but very limited role (especially during humanitarian disasters like in the Horn of Africa) especially for development.  Rather I advocate support for enterprise for its role to lift nations out of poverty.

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

Hence, I was highly elated to meet with Dr Kim Tan of the Transformational Business Network at the recent Harambe Rome Forum held between September 2-4, 2011 in Rome Italy, and not only listen to such an established entrepreneur voice the same opinion, but I also found out he had co-authored a book titled “Fighting Poverty Through Enterprise; the case for social venture capital” which is free for download. It may take time to wean Africa off Aid, but then Rome was not built in a day!

I have already related my interest and motivation to attend the Harambe Rome Forum in my September 1 blog post , and the obstacles I had to overcome to get to Rome

Several days now after returning from Rome, and several thousand dollars poorer, I have no regrets for having taken the decision to attend the event, and I feel honored to have been part of what one of the participants rightly described as “a precision event with lots of gemstones and cross-pollination of ideas.”

Entrance to the Vatican

Entrance to the Vatican

As a social media enthusiast, I therefore present to you a collection of my gemtweets (tweets on a piece of paper!)  from the event which I hope you will find inspiring, and I look forward to the next Harambe Forum!

Harambe Tweets on a Piece of Paper


#haramberomeforum kicked off with intro-Lisa from LBS, Tanya from Actis,Director-Acton Inst.,Vatican rep,Theo from Nestle. #socent



Henrik of Dahlberg also on board of @tonyOelumelu’s foundation, Kim Tan-Chairman SpringHill,TBN n VC,Michele from @usadf #haramberomeforum


Media reps from @AP ,@WSJ , @FT. Undersecretary of the Pontificate,John Cabot Univ rep, and others make up panel. #haramberomeforum #socent



Theo kicks off with need to move from CSR to creating shared value. Not surprised as @michaelEporter sits on Nestle board #haramberomeforum

Embed processes in supply chain 2 create value for all stkholders.nestle focus in Africa is nutrition,water n rural devp. #haramberomeforum

For companies 2 add real value in Africa,need 2 move away 4rm philanthropy 2 intersection of societal n shareholder value #haramberomeforum

35 yrs ago,Kenya GDP was higher than Taiwan n S.Korea. S.Asia transformed via economic devp not dependence on aid #haramberomeforum #socent

Foreign aid has a role in tackling poverty but greater emphasis need to be on the role of business n enterprise. #haramberomeforum #socent

Funds xsferred from west 2 africa as returns-seeking investment creates more permanent jobs than govt2govt grants #haramberomeforum #socent

Asia realized it could not compete on natural resources or traditional industries so invested in knowledge base #haramberomeforum #socent

There is a fundamental misalignment of state bureaucracy n national goals in most African countries. #haramberomeforum #socent

There is no time 2 wait in africa for proper alignment. Challenge is how 2 still pursue social devp despite imperfections #haramberomeforum

USADF has portfolio of $70mm in 20 African countries, largely agrobased. Support for African-led businesses #haramberomeforum #socent

It takes time, persistence, team building and experience of failure to succeed. #haramberomeforum #socent

 Encouraging women in #socent. Reference2Nigerian LBS MBA grad, Tokunbo Ishmael, now manages microfinance fund in #Nigeria#haramberomeforum

Need to learn d courage 2 fail.Ur first idea is not likely to turn into a billion dollars #haramberomeforum #socent

 Is Silicon Valley a bubble? Interesting to see silly ideas get funding in ‘Silly-Con’ valley, same ideas we get everyday. #haramberomeforum

Skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur in africa- forward planning , expect worst case scenario,think on your feet #haramberomeforum

Other skills are- leadership, courage to go with your ideas,turn problems into opportunities #haramberomeforum #socent

Identify a need, going to mkt just bcos u think u have a smart idea n everyone else thinks it’s dumb may be a step towards failure #haramberomeforum

3 types of entreps in africa- 1.Ivyleague trained,MNC-experienced folks who come back 2 start stuff.Don’t need much help. #haramberomeforum

 2.Those trained in Africa,mostly lack funding n ecosystem 2 support ideas. We need to av a strategy to support them#haramberomeforum

3rd n largest group is d informal sector. Great effort is reqd to support them and move them from passive to productive #haramberomeforum

Why do African SMEs fail?1. Too small n undercapitalized. You require a certain scale to survive n grow #haramberomeforum #socent

Why do African SMEs fail?2. Lack of adequate management capacity. Strong Mgmt teams are vital in emerging mkts. #haramberomeforum #socent

 While women entrepreps in Asia r d best in responsible borrowing, they have scaling issues as husbands feel threathened #haramberomeforum

Why do African SMEs fail?3. Wrong location; good ideas located in the wrong places r prone to die quickly. #haramberomeforum #socent

What Actis looks 4 b4 funding: passion, relevant experience,desire 2 solve social need ,ability to access further funding #haramberomeforum

African talent and enterprise is chained down by bad policies and politicians. #haramberomeforum #socent

Aid is not dead,but African countries need 2 b weaned off aid. Show me 1 country that bcame developed by depending on aid.#haramberomeforum

At MBA age(27-29), fewer women apply bcos they are just starting a family so LBS gets more female MBAs under 23. #haramberomeforum

 Question 2 Panel-Is it necessary for entrepreneurs 2 b able 2 speak English?Panelist-I can answer that question in Chinese #haramberomeforum

Not necessary for entrepreneurs to speak English but highly important so as to be able to access knowledge n info #haramberomeforum

#rwanda and #s.leone have become pacesetters for the rest of Africa.Kigami of Rwanda aims to make it Singapore of Africa. #haramberomeforum

In 10 years, #Rwanda has gone from 80% dependence on foreign #aid to below 50%. #WeaningAfricaoffaid #haramberomeforum

When you strip away investments into extractive industries, only very little money going into africa vs rest of world. #haramberomeforum

What’s africa’s devp model?Is d middle sector booming cos of a fundamental shift or cos extractive industries r doing well?#haramberomeforum

Investors still committing blunder of treating #africa as one single place where events spill over from country2country #haramberomeforum

In #socent you must empathize,listen n collaborate. Your US education or London experience cannot replace those skills#haramberomeforum

 Breaktime at #haramberomeforum. Very informative session so far. Just finished interviews with @WSJ and Financial Times. #socent

Don’t over romanticize #socent. You must be commercially viable to succeed. Can’t help d poor by becoming poor #haramberomeforum

Creating high impact jobs in Africa would be impossible without creating friendly environment 4 #FDI and partnerships #haramberomeforum

Every entrepreneur needs a coach. The best ones are the ones that r hardest on you. #socent #haramberomeforum

B4 u make it,figure how to sell it. Sad example selling organic vanilla by d pound in Uganda when it shrinks by d minute #haramberomeforum

All enterprise (excluding illicit ones) is social! Its ok to b a normal business.Make good products that ppl want #haramberomeforum #socent

As #afropreneurs, we will move the success of Africa from Impossible to Improbable to Inevitable #haramberomeforum

 Huge opportunities in energy, agriculture n the service sector n Bringing good Mgmt to poorly managed family biz #haramberomeforum #Africa

Cannot wait 4 our universities in Africa to catchup. Fasttrack thru partnerships n licensing innovation.copycatting is ok #haramberomeforum

We need 2 change d mindset at every level in Africa. Very annoying 2 be stopped by a policeman asking for s bribe. #haramberomeforum

There was m-pesa, watch out for m-profesa, leveraging mobiles for education in Africa #haramberomeforum #mobile

 Future opportunities in Africa lie in Green, Technology and Food. Over 48% of food in Africa is lost on way to market #haramberomeforum

Survey of postmba plans at an African biz school 5 yrs ago 1.Go into politics 2.Work for an NGO 3.Start a church #haramberomeforum

 I hope some of u will b very successful, but even more importantly; I hope you will remember your roots then #haramberomeforum

Are Africans racist? Story of white McKinsey junior analyst congratulated by African minister ignoring black VP #haramberomeforum

Where r u going?Are u going 2 b merely successful? Or are you going 2 b significant? What is your strategy 2 move from success2significance?

God will judge your intentions, but history will judge your actions. Do the right thing #haramberomeforum

If not now, when: if not here, where : if not us, who? And that brings us to the final tweet from #haramberomeforum #Africa #socent #leadership

If not now, when: if not here, where : if not us, who?

If not now, when: if not here, where : if not us, who?


About Idris Ayodeji Bello

Afropreneur & Partner, LoftyInc Ltd (Operators of the Wennovation Hub) Leading expert in deploying technology and innovation to drive public sector reforms and enabling good governance. Passionate about bringing about positive change in Africa through innovation and entrepreneurship!
This entry was posted in Africa, Afropreneurship, cross pollination, Education, Harambe, Innovation, Investment, Nigeria, Rome, Social Enterprise, social venture capital, Vatican and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tweets from Rome: Weaning Africa off Aid; One Enterprise at at Time

  1. Pingback: Running to Rome! | The Afropreneur - Idris Ayodeji Bello

  2. Pingback: Running to Rome! | The Afropreneur - Idris Ayodeji Bello

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s