Leontine has been there: ‘Africa Works!’ 2016

The third edition already of Africa Works! congress to support doing business in Africa. This latest edition was  being hold in The KIT, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Traditionally being organised by NABC, (the Netherlands African Business Council) in close cooperation with ASC (African Study Centre).  Let us look back to see where we come from and where we are now.

2012 Africa Works! A big change in the agenda to fight poverty

The first edition of Africa Works! was in 2012. It was just a small group of ‘fans ,friends, explorers and pioneers’ who believed that Africa was ready for a new move:  from aid into Aid for Trade. Not so many people believed in an Africa of possibilities then.  I was an early adapter of this policy.

2014 Africa Works! Milk and honey may have different colours but can share the same house

The Africa Works! edition of 2014 showed that times were changing,. NGO’s and business society met each other on Africa Works!,  starting carefully to know and respect each other. Discovering that, being different, working together could be for the benefit of all. Professionals of both worlds  were exchanging a diversity on knowledge and experiences by workshops and master classes. First alliances were born there, being followed by developments that contributed to change at the base of the pyramid. Such as  technical instruments for healthcare. Yes, the fight against malaria can be battled by the latest technology. Or you can improve your knowledge and skills, while living in the rural areas, by an app on your mobile phone. So technology, business and aid joining hands to fight poverty. Africa Works! has developed itself as a leading international platform dedicated to inform, inspire, and connect the Dutch private sector, with their strategic partners NGO’s and knowledge institutes, with the various regional industries of Africa. So, a new agenda: Aid, Trade & Investments. Africa is on track, so was NABC and I’m proud to be part of this process.

2016 Africa Works! Where challenges, business and money meet

And now, at 2016 ‘Africa is doing well, in contrary against many European economies and  has turned into an equal business partner. In many African countries the economic growth will continue. Also the population and the life expectancy will increase, and that means opportunities’, says Jürgen Rigterink, the new director of the Dutch development bank ,FMO at his keynote speech at Africa Works 2016.

‘Africa is becoming more and more important for Dutch import and export’, says Klaas Knot, President of De Nederlandsche Bank, at Africa Works!. ‘Over two thousand  Dutch companies are active in Africa. Not so strange, while nine of the top twenty upcoming markets where the Dutch are active, are on the African continent’.  

And opportunities go together with finance. So Africa Works! Is on the barricade again by putting the spotlight on a topic to every entrepreneur willing to do business in Africa: How do I get my business financed? What are new developments and solutions are being offered on the continent itself? So the stage of Africa Works! was on: Innovation in finance! And what a developments I’ve heard and seen! Traditional banking that changed into inclusive banking. New modern IT-platforms as VC4 Africa supporting doing business.  And the latest phenomenon : ABAN Angels, representing partnerships of African Business Angel Networks represented by Tomi Davies.  Africa is indeed like a lion on the move.

As a member of the supervisory board of NABC and as an dedicated inclusive entrepreneur I feel proud that we have come this far.

What will Africa Works! 2018 bring us?

While the western world is confused by the tragedy of refugees, terrorism and by Trumpism, more and more incoming trade and investment missions are bringing Africans business society and African Investors to Europe. Looking for partners, looking for investment possibilities in Europe. The changes are big that it will lead to crossing borders  equal partnerships. Does this means by 2018 African Investors networks are full speed on the move in Europe? Europe Works!?


Leontine van Hooft