The big-picture theme of 3rd annual Berkeley-Haas Africa Business Forum is how technology is disrupting every industry on the continent.
But the focus of the event, to be held April 29 at Sutardja Dai Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus, is on interaction, discussion, and building a network.
“The Berkeley Haas Africa Business Forum seeks to act as a magnet for people with a vested interest in private sector development in Africa, and as a catalyst for action,” said Co-chair Thato Keineetse, MBA 17. “Our goal is to build a diverse network of change agents who are capable and motivated to tackle the complex challenges and vast opportunities present in African economies.”
Adds Co-chair Hady Barry, MBA 17, “This is not about attending an event and being talked at—we want our guests to be engaged and contribute to the conversation.”
The forum was established by MBA students three years ago to fill out a line-up of student-led conferences that includes Asian and Latin American business conferences. It was first large-scale event at Berkeley to focus on African business, and has attracted students from throughout campus as well as professionals from throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
While nearly 200 people registered last year, Barry said organizers are capping attendance at 150 this year to keep it intimate and interactive.
To that end, the morning will be spent on a case study on the African startup Azuri Technologies, a commercial provider of solar systems to rural off-grid communities. “The case study session will also be an opportunity to showcase the design-thinking approach to problem find and solving we’ve learned at Haas,” Barry said.
Following a networking lunch, afternoon panels will feature African tech entrepreneurs, the growth of fintech in Africa, as well as “big tech’s ambitions in Africa.”
Speakers include Nigerian entrepreneur Olu’Yomi Ojo, who founded branding firm Urbanbaze Advertising and Printivo, a custom printing company for small businesses that is expanding to other African countries; as well as Toro Orero, managing partner of Silicon Valley VC fund DDF Capital, which invests in scalable African startups.