When deciding to pursue an MBA, the extent of a school’s focus on the African continent was not a metric on my priority list. While I had hoped to get involved in many African societies and clubs, the sad truth was that I did not expect Africa to represent a large portion of the cohort, despite being the second largest and second most populous continent in the world.
However, upon further research into various programmes, it was clear that Saïd Business School was committed to ensuring Africa is represented in its learning pedagogy. Through the Oxford Africa Business Alliance, the Oxford Africa Business Forum, the Invest Africa Business Mentoring Programme and many more initiatives, it was evident that the School took pride in investing in African talent and the overall development of the continent.
As a result, the Oxford Africa Business Forum carries great weight for the MBA cohort (of which 12% is represented by Africans) and the wider Oxford University community. As part of the pledge made to continue to invest in Africa and support the next generation of African leaders, Saïd Business School plays a major role in shifting the African narrative and shedding light on all of the opportunities that lie ahead. The forum is just one of the many ways Africa is celebrated within the University of Oxford.
When people think of Africa, the words poverty, hunger, and conflict among others usually follow, due to the negative conventional media representations of the continent. However, when I think of Africa, the words culture, tradition and vibrant are top of my mind. It is my hope that the 13th Oxford Africa Business Forum is not only attended by Africans who share a passion for the continent but also attended by those who have never seen Africa beyond the media portrayal. I believe that we should all aspire to normalise changing our opinion after learning new information. The Forum is the perfect starting point for those new to Africa and looking to have some involvement with the continent.
As Co-Directors of the Africa Business Forum, we have done our best to make sure a wide range of topics is covered in the upcoming event. From entrepreneurship to climate and everything in between, we hope that the thought-provoking discussions from our speakers leave lasting impressions on all those in attendance. In addition to the panels, the invaluable opportunity to network outside of the sessions will provide meaningful connections with like-minded individuals. I have no doubt that the forum will leave everyone with insights to take beyond the buzz and excitement of 11 March.
I have attended many African forums and conferences throughout my life and have always come out of them with a renewed sense of vigour and hope for the continent. These discussions are always energising and, while one can be hopeful, one must also be weary of toxic optimism. The Oxford Africa Business Forum this year promises to bring fruitful discussions with applicable takeaways for everyone interested in the continent. I am excited to hear practical insights and takeaways from our carefully curated list of speakers.