African diasporan MBA students plan to return after graduation

MBA Africa JanacaHalf of the respondents who said they would start their own African businesses were female. (Image source: Book Aid International/flickr)A recent survey by Jacana Partners has revealed that 70 per cent of African diasporan MBA students from Western business schools said they would return to work in Africa after graduation

Of those who confirmed they would return to Africa, half said they planned to become entrepreneurs and start their own company, as opposed to working for an existing business.

Simon Merchant, CEO of Jacana, a pan-African private equity firm which invests in small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), said, “These survey findings provide a welcome indication that the majority of talented young Africans from among the MBA diaspora will be returning to Africa post-graduation – and more importantly, they will be starting their own businesses.

“Small businesses are the key engines of economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation in Africa and management talent is a critical component for SME success. By combining strong management teams with increasing access to value-added private equity capital, we can harness the potential of the returning MBA diaspora to build successful businesses, create jobs and support long-term economic growth,” he commented.

The growing consumer industry was selected by 89 per cent of African respondents as presenting the greatest opportunities across the continent, above both natural resources and advancing technologies. As a result, more than a third said the consumer goods and financial services sectors offered the most attractive opportunities for starting new businesses.

Respondents to the survey originated from 19 different African countries and half of those who indicated that they would be starting their own African businesses were female.

Sara Leedom, co-chair of the Africa Oxford Business Network at Oxford Saïd Business School, said, “When Jacana approached us to research the appetite for working in Africa post-graduation among our Africa Business Network students, we were delighted to be able to lend a voice.

“I am not at all surprised by the results – the majority of our members view Africa as offering a compelling career opportunity for business graduates, particularly at a time when the environment for growing businesses is slow in the West.

“The continent provides a wealth of opportunity and we are increasingly seeing interest from a broad range of non-African nationalities in joining our Africa Business Network, attracted to that potential,” she concluded.

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