Shifting Tides: Diversifying Economies and Achieving Quality Growth

The Africa Business Forum at Stanford is the premier event in the Bay Area for those curious and excited about business in Africa. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about various business opportunities you might want to explore. Come listen to distinguished speakers who are shaping the future of some of the world's fastest growing countries.

As we enter the second decade of the forum, we will explore the theme of Shifting Tides: Diversifying Economies and Creating Quality Growth. We will hear from leaders in agriculture, e-commerce, education, energy, finance, healthcare, manufacturing and technology. All are welcome to attend. Whether you speak one of the 2000+ languages of Africa or cannot tell the difference between Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, we invite you to come and engage in discussion with thought leaders and entrepreneurs. The theme Shifting Tides: Diversifying Economies and Creating Quality Growth captures the rise of a new type of growth in Africa and one that is not driven by resource extraction and that can be sustained for the long run. The forum will showcase how enterprising individuals and organizations across Africa are delivering the services that Africans are demanding.
  • Keynote Speakers
    and Panels

  • VC Pitches

  • Workshops

  • Career Fair

  • This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Africa Business Forum at Stanford under the theme: Shifting Tides: Diversifying Economies and Achieving Quality Growth.

    In its inaugural year, the Forum was launched based on the following premise:
    For many years, the economic potential of African nations has been overshadowed by issues of poverty, underdevelopment, corruption, conflict and meager progress. African economies have been known to depend immensely on the social benevolence of foreign nations and institutions. As such, economic relations in Africa have become characterized with all forms of social investment such as aid, grants, charity and debt relief. Interestingly, however, the concept of business and actual investment in Africa, which is often overlooked, may serve as the key to unlocking true solutions to rectify these problems.

    Some of these perspectives still hold true as business and investment in Africa has still not led to the continent achieving its full potential in unlocking lasting solutions for growth and economic development.
  • In the last decade, many African countries have benefited financially from the exploitation of natural resources such as oil, minerals and other valuable commodities. However, falling oil prices and volatility in other commodity prices has recently contributed to slow growth and the recession in Nigeria for example.

    McKinsey & Company’s report, Lions on the Move II: Realizing the Potential of Africa’s Economies indicates that the African countries that have remained resilient have done so because of continued diversification of their economies. In addition to this, achieving quality growth will ensure lasting impact.

    We therefore hope that the theme, Shifting Tides: Diversifying Economies and Achieving Quality Growth, will stimulate discussion and debate on how African economies can achieve their economic potential through business and investment. Join us for what promises to be an engaging day exploring this theme through the lenses of entrepreneurship, technology, energy, agriculture, healthcare, education, manufacturing and finance with some of the leading thinkers and practitioners from Africa and beyond. Reconnect with old networks and make new ones as the Africa Business Forum at Stanford enters its second decade.
  • This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Africa Business Forum. At its inception in 2007, the forum had the theme “Fostering Entrepreneurial Activities in Africa”. Its main objective was to portray Africa in a more positive light than that more commonly seen in the media and create awareness of the diverse and burgeoning opportunities, as well as the extraordinary growth that characterized African countries as they capitalized on years of continuing stability. The first forum was organized by a group of enthusiastic students headed by Wilson Irungu Nyakera and Kwame Ansong-Dwamena. Today Wilson serves as the Principal Secretary for Transport in the Kenyan government, the youngest appointee ever for such a top government position and Kwame is a Software Development Engineer in Test at Microsoft Corporation.

    Speakers from various sectors such as academia, business finance and technology were united to catalyze the broad discussion on the economic boom in Africa and the numerous opportunities for investors on the African continent. Most notable among the speakers in the first conference were Brian Lehren and Nkosana Moyo.
  • Brian founded and served as the executive director of Village Enterprise, an NGO aimed at helping the poor in East Africa start and expand small businesses, which has been able to fund more than 20,000 enterprises. At the time, Nkosana served as the vice president and Chief Operating Officer of the African Development Bank where he took part in the financing of major infrastructure projects in Africa and today heads the Mandela Institute for Development Studies, which he founded.

    Though the theme has changed from year to year, the underlying motivation behind the forum hasn’t changed. The forum has always been aimed at creating awareness of the opportunities on the African continent and bring together Africans and friends of Africa from the continent and the diaspora to engage on the most important issues affecting the continent’s growth. As we enter the second decade of the forum, let us keep in mind the word of Erik Olesund, a Design Leader in the Stanford D-School and a speaker in the 2014 forum about Turning Ideas Into Action: “How do you find out what is really meaningful to the people you want to serve. What is it that they really care about? A great way to get there is to just ask and if there is anything they say that triggers your mind, ask why and be truly curious.”

  • Past Conferences:    2016     2015    2014


Seed is a Stanford GSB-led initiative that’s working to end the cycle of global poverty. Seed is training business leaders in developing economies, inspiring Stanford students to b ecome globally engaged leaders, and supporting critical research that can lead to breakthrough solutions.

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The Dangote Group

The Dangote Group is a diversified and fully integrated conglomerate with an annual group turnover in excess of US$3billion. The Group’s interests span a range of sectors in Nigeria and across Africa. Current interests include cement, sugar, salt, flour, pasta, beverages and real estate with new projects underway in the oil and gas, petrochemical, fertiliser and steel sectors of the economy.

The core business focus of the Group, which started operations in 1978, is to provide local, value-added products and services that meet the ‘basic needs’ of the populace. Through the construction and operation of large scale manufacturing facilities in Nigeria and across 17 other African countries, the Group is focused on building local manufacturing capacity to generate employment, prevent capital flight and provide locally produced goods for the people. The Group is also constructing a cement plant in Nepal, Asia.

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The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. Now in our sixth decade, we continue not only to grow but also to embody the same timeless sense of purpose and the constant call for renewal that our founder Bruce Henderson instilled at our inception.

Our mission is clear. We go deep to unlock insight and have the courage to act. We bring the right people together to challenge established thinking and drive transformation. We work with our clients to build the capabilities that enable organizations to achieve sustainable advantage. We are shaping the future. Together.

Consumer insight, corporate development, corporate finance, digital economy, globalization, growth, information technology, innovation, marketing & sales, operations, people & organization, postmerger integration, risk management, strategy, sustainability, and transformation

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Stanford’s location adjacent Palo Alto and Menlo Park offers an abundance of lodging choices, ranging from B&Bs and motels to luxury hotels.

Local lodging list
Logding guide based on proximity to campus and includes website links, rates, and contact information.

Stanford properties
Rosewood Sand Hill offers luxury accommodations at special rates for Stanford visitors, as well as a spa and fine dining restaurant.
The Stanford Guest House ,on the grounds of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is an economical favorite of Stanford visitors.

Both properties are located about a mile west of the Stanford campus on Sand Hill Road, near some of the nation's foremost venture capital and private equity firms.


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Photos from previous ABFs.