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Adjoa Adjei-Twum

Degree:

Diploma in Financial Strategy

Location:

United Kingdom

Industry:

Finance

Year:

2018

By Adjoa Adjei-Twum

Opportunities for youth in Africa

Tell us about yourself
I was born in Ghana and moved to the UK in my early teenage years. After my undergraduate degree in 2007, I started a career at Citibank in their financial crime investigations team. Over the last 13 years, I have worked with global financial institutions and the Big 4 helping organisations meet their compliance requirements, especially in Anti-money laundering and Economic Sanctions. I have held Senior Management positions across the financial sector and my most recent position being the Head of Global Training and Communications for Chief Controls Office (CCO) at Barclay.

In 2019, I graduated from Said Business School with a postgraduate degree in Financial Strategy. During my time at Oxford, I founded Emerging Business Intelligence and Innovation (EBII) Compliance 2018. I pitched the business idea to the Oxford University Innovation Centre and became the first African to join their incubator program.

EBII Compliance is a company that provides a critical link between companies in the West who are seeking opportunities for diversification and improving their returns, and businesses in Africa that are looking to expand their access to financing for growth. The company does this through regularly held conferences, compliance training programs, and Due Diligence / Know Your Customer (KYC) reports, among others.

What are the opportunities in Africa?
In my opinion, the agricultural sector remains dominant across the African continent, more notable in Nigeria and Egypt who produce one-third of the continent’s agricultural output. 60 per cent of the world’s unused arable land is in Africa. According to a McKinsey report, Agriculture represents 15 per cent of the continent’s total GDP or more than $100 billion annually.

Africa’s banking sector is also thriving and the industry is currently the second-most profitable region. The ROE of African banks was more than double the 6 per cent achieved by banks in developed markets. The fintech sector has seen the highest emergence over the last ten years. An example is M-Pesa, a mobile money app used by 96% of Kenyans has changed the lives of millions in Africa. Another example is Google, who opened its official research centre in Ghana in 2019.

Challenges of “Doing Business” in Africa
Africa presents a very diverse landscape across its different countries and industries. Similar to Asia and the Americas, Africa does not have laws, customs, and conditions that are universally applicable. Underpinning any business decisions, a clear understanding of the risk and compliance profile of the proposition under consideration is a critical catalyst to further growth and scale. Doing business in Africa requires patience, tenacity, and a different set of skills than gaining entry into a more mature market like Europe or America. Building relevant relationships with local partners is important. Being very creative and having local know-how is also essential to help with adapting to local conditions. Special attention must be paid to the following when conducting due diligence; Business model risk, Political environment, Economy, Legal systems, Culture, Local knowledge and Local networks.

Key lessons for partners, collaborators, and investors looking to work in or within Africa
Sufficient due diligence is the key to any successful business in Africa. The right due diligence will help you obtain information that would be useful in identifying potential defects in the business opportunity and thus avoiding a bad business transaction or even breaching regulatory requirement and exposing your company to reputational damage and potential fines.

The key lesson for “Youth in Africa”
The opportunities for African youth are endless and they must see it and seize these opportunities.

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