Although the Africa Business Club can’t hand you the keys to a multinational corporation, they can provide a strong support system to developing your understanding of Africa’s corporate culture.
The Africa Business Club (ABC) was founded in June 2015 to promote awareness of the African business landscape. Through their events they create a platform that connects students, academics, and professionals at UBC to economic, political, and social opportunities in Africa.
Their primary purpose is to hold events that spark meaningful discussion with a community interested in learning about entrepreneurship and current events in the African economy. Behind the scenes is a powerhouse team of members who research current events that are crucial to understanding the business culture of Africa.
Any club with the word “business” in it might seem like it’s driven by serious, no-nonsense, future white-collar workers. Although ABC is led by a driven team that is all about educating and promoting business ventures in Africa, their executive team is far from dull!
I sat down with co-presidents Komal and Renee as well as directors Agang and Melissa to hear what they had to say about working with one another, and changing perceptions of African business.
It’s apparent that the success of this club depends on a team that empowers one another to grow.
Throughout the interview, I noticed that each exec had more to say about one another than they did about themselves.
Komal and Renee returned this year to lead ABC with complete faith in one another as pillars of support.
Renee admitted, “I did have skepticism coming back because it was my last year at UBC, but Komal and other team members assured me that there is a lot of support for me.”
Komal shared a similar sentiment: “I also made a pro and cons list, and I definitely struggled a lot to decide if I wanted to come back. Ultimately, this is a legacy I wanted to be a part of.”
“I knew if Komal was going to be co-prez with me, I knew the experience would be rewarding, as well as manageable,” explained Renee.
“I also really admired Renee’s dedication to the club previously, and knowing she also wanted to come back is ultimately what pushed me to come back,” agreed Komal.
They also both hyped up Agang, their new corporate relations director—to any potential employers out there!
“This is a personal plug for Agang—he’s been killing this year so far! Just so everyone knows for future reference,” boasted Renee.
Komal chimed in, “Oh yeah, I definitely second that.”
The support system in ABC is dependent on transparency and honesty.
“One thing I really appreciate is when people are honest about how they are feeling and are transparent,” Agang shared, laughing.
There’s an apparent sense of trust between these execs that Agang explains is a result of respect, as well. “People are respectful, but voice their concerns and opinions if they don’t think something is working out. People are doing three, four other things, but are still putting the time and effort to get the job done.”
Together they’ve already hosted two major discussions surrounding the topics of Voluntourism and Agribusiness as a teaser for their annual business forum this month.
Through their events, they bring in a range of speakers, from UBC’s political science professor, Dr. Robert Farkasch, to director of the Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE), Tamara Baldwin. These panelists provoke intimate discussions about current affairs in Africa that make attendees question their initial perceptions.
“You don’t have to be an expert. For us, the most important thing is that you come with an open mind and be willing to learn,” encouraged Melissa. “You’ll for sure gain a new perspective on Africa and its business culture.”
ABC is a community of people interested in expanding their worldview.
Komal added that her most memorable moments in ABC revolve around the discussions they facilitate.“It’s a lot of pressure and sometimes emotions run high. But it’s amazing to see us all come together for this one goal and have the discussions that we have on different current events.
“It’s the people that this club attracts, the people who come to our events, the people that come to this team.”
Join their discussion—Africa: Emerging Markets and Growth Within
The Africa Business Forum, ABC’s annual flagship event, is happening on January 26. It’s a full day of workshops, interactive activities, and speaker panels that will focus on the socioeconomic benefits of the African continent shifting its focus towards internal growth. Get more details on their website or Facebook event page.
If you’re looking to develop your world perspective or get engaged with passionate, entrepreneurially-minded people, then you should definitely head to one of their events!