Chris Koney’s column: Thinking locally to shape Africa’s growth

Yasmin Kumi

Yasmin Kumi is the Founder of Africa Foresight Group and Executive Director of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance. Africa Foresight Group (AFG) is an African-owned and managed advisory firm with offices in London and Accra.

AFG enhances the African business landscape by providing locally accessible, world-class insights and advisory services to grow local companies into global champions. The company primarily focuses on the consumer goods, agribusiness, and financial services sectors.

As an experienced business consultant, Yasmin believed that sustainable African growth could be achieved through the support of locally-owned businesses. Yet economies of African countries are often dominated by multinational companies, with local businesses struggling to compete with these global giants. She set out to make a difference and launched Africa Foresight Group to provide opportunities for African businesses and to strengthen local economies.

The challenge

Multinational companies, mainly from the old colonial European powers and the United States, extract significant amounts of profits from local economies in Africa. These companies create employment, but often contribute little economic value that is kept on the continent since their headquarters are overseas. Countries such as Ghana need more locally owned businesses that are able to create sustainable economic development.

There are myths about doing business in Africa that prohibit African growth, such as talent scarcity, unreliable market data, and risky investments, yet for many local economies, these myths are not truths. What local African businesses can benefit from is support, especially in the form of advising, mentorship, opportunities, and investment. The challenge was in addressing the lack of locally-owned competitive large businesses in Africa, to help foster sustainable economic development.

The process

Raised in Germany by a German mother and Ghanaian father, Yasmin Kumi developed a kinship with her Ghanaian roots and a passion for fostering local economic value creation in Africa, and in Ghana in particular. With her background in business and experience as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, she knew of countries where family-owned businesses of considerable scale helped create competitive local economies.

She wondered, could this type of business model for economic growth be applied to Ghana? Kumi believed in the transformational power of local African businesses and decided to found the first consulting company in Ghana to offer first-class strategy advisory to MBB-level (McKinsey, BCG and Bain) enterprises and sizable companies — services that were usually mostly accessible to multinational firms and public sector only.

Her venture, Africa Foresight Group (AFG), launched in 2015 and provides market intelligence on African industries to investors and companies to help unlock the potential of local large companies from the continent. AFG’s talent model allows young graduates from African and international universities to get involved in rebuilding their home economies.

AFG disrupts the African business services sector by offering high quality at rates that are affordable for local clients. Services for African businesses and entrepreneurs include a Research Desk (providing data collection and analytics services), a Think Tank (collaboration and reports), Business Advisory (consultation, strategy, finance programs, and route-to-market services), and Data & Analytics (field data, PowerPoint design, and support for finance models).

This robust service offering enables AFG to address three important gaps in the African business service sector: the demand for reliable and available market data, more visible platforms for the international promotion of local African businesses, and the opportunity to work with teams of experienced advisors.

The result

AFG has accumulated a substantial portfolio of clients since the venture launched in 2015. The flagship report of the AFG Think Tank, ‘African Champions: Emerging Global Enterprises’, contains an array of case studies on local champions and policies to illustrate the stage of local economic value creation in Africa.

In 2017, Kumi won the first edition of the Authenticity Project for her work with AFG and the results her company is producing. The Authenticity Project has the objective of supporting emerging ventures in order to further their success. Kumi’s goal is for young Africans to look towards African entrepreneurs and local career opportunities instead of looking for a job with a multinational company. In this way, AFG will strengthen African pride.

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