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  • Writer's pictureJacob Fohtung

The Stories of (& about) Africa are still being written, and You are an integral part of it...

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

So, 2 weeks ago, I officially began this structured In-Person Discussion Circle centered around topics to spur conversations to bring awareness but importantly honest conversation centered around Africa.

We have been able to bring together a professor, students, young professionals, and a venture capitalist to our conversations.

I had always wanted to start a platform that to is based on the premise to share knowledge, best practices, and discoveries of entrepreneurship and investment opportunities in emerging markets via In-Person Discussion Circles. So, I took the leap of faith to start one called JamanInclusive. I began by inviting some close friends to our first our session back before the summer of 2019. In this session, we talked about the potential pros and cons China's collaborations with African governments (an example that came up was Angola's national debt credited by the Chinese government).

Our first ever meetup (We talked about the potential Pros and Cons of China's presence in Africa) before the summer of 2019
Right to Left (Mike, Nicholas, Timi, me, Addy)

Fast-forward 6 months later, I decided to revisit this idea after being able to commit some quality to build on this idea. I decided to partner with Liz Llorens, a Higher Education Administrator at Babson College, Champion of All things Sustainable Food & Agriculture to develop a series via this platform.

So we worked closely together to build the series below that started in February and ends in April of this year:

In our first session that occurred on February 21st, we talked the "Africa Rising" rhetoric and we discussed and addressed anecdotes about the realities of starting and running a fund in Africa (This was echoed by the founder, Eric Klose of Ground Squirrel Ventures, which currently invests undeserved markets and industries). They are currently active in Zambia, Madagascar, Haiti, Kenya and Rwanda. We also discussed about the intricacies of starting a fund and how to reach out limited Partners for commitments.

One of our attendees, Professor Adam Sulkowski of Babson College asked thought provoking questions from the perception of Africa from the western world to the reality on the ground. Liz llorens, my co-partner shared a fascinating observation of how she perceives Americans think of Africa. Lastly, I was so excited to have with us a fellow Cameroonian, Lionel who works at First Republic Bank right downtown of Boston to attend this conversation and share his viewpoints on this topic.

It was extremely satisfying and humbling to see everyone so engaged and unwilling to leave even after the time assigned was over. We talked with each other extensively after this session and exchanged contacts to stay connected.

Is Africa Rising? We were seemed ecstatic post our first In-Person Discussion 2020
From Right to Left (Professor Sulkowski, me, Eric (GroundSquirrel Ventures), Liz Llorens, and Lionel (a fellow Cameroonian )

We continued the series last week, Friday, and our topic was Entrepreneurship Opportunities in Africa. Similarly, it was quite an engaging and anecdotal conversation as wherein participants were vulnerable to share their experiences, exposures, biases and realities of starting a company on the African continent. It was such an inspiring scene to watch this conversation unfolded organically as everyone shared their thoughts and perspectives on this topic.

Likewise, the participants were so drawn into the conversation that we had to kicked out of the building. We, however, were able to take a picture as well as connect with another in order to reach out to each other when we can.

Our Second JamanInclusive Discussion: Entrepreneurship Opportunities in Africa
Right to Left (Liz, Mike, Kevin, Lionel, me, Sara, and Lillian)

This upcoming Friday, 3/6 we will be having two fascinating topics, the Agricultural Sector in Africa and Africa/China's Relationship.

If you are downtown Boston, you are more than welcome to come and join our Third Season of our JamanInclusive In-Person discussion. You can register here to attend week's Friday this event.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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