The Botstiber Scholars attended the 22nd Annual Africa Business Conference hosted by the Africa Business Club at Harvard Business School from February 14 – 15, 2020.
The weekend offered interesting panels and discussions on business and culture in Africa with topics such as education and entrepreneurship, culture and business in Africa, as well as sustainability and real estate. Students engaged with other students and also had the opportunity to speak with possible future employers from Africa at the Career Fair, including companies like Pepsi, Alter Global and Flutterwave.
Reflections of their experience by the Botstiber Scholars:
“At the core, we were able to make valuable connections and acquire contacts that we would otherwise have been unable to acquire back home due to the sheer effort and cost it would have involved to visit the offices of the participating companies one by one. We also had meaningful interactions with other students, both undergraduate and postgraduate.
On the side, the conference was a huge inspiration to the scholars. While there were many panels we did not have in common, the panels that we shared were an immense morale boost. We learned more about the impact that startups and established companies were having on the continent from education to agriculture, energy, fashion, music, technology, finance, and many other sectors.
We learned about the innovations happening all over Africa, many of them, such as drought and flood insurance companies, originally from Africa and copied in countries all over the world. We were inspired by the stories of passion and perseverance that our fellow Africans, many of them not much older than us, narrated. We watched as some of them won large prizes from $3,000 to $100,000 and recognition for their work back home.
We may have our misgivings about the state of Africa, but the perspective provided by CEOs of big banks, founders, entrepreneurs, etc., had a great and positive impact on our perceptions of what can be achieved on the continent. In time, we will all leave Penn State and go out into the world, we hope that these perspectives remain with us and inspire us every day.”