For Isabel dos Santos, Angola’s Future is Female

Posted on August 8, 2019

Creating a prosperous economy for a country is daunting, doing it for a whole continent may seem impossible. But for Africa’s top wealthiest woman, Isabel dos Santos, it might take the same skills needed to succeed in business. A business career starting and investing in companies across various industries gave her a deep respect for the power of communities, the healing power of charity, and the need for women in the workplace. While there are many industries growing in Africa, like telecom where she is best known, Isabel dos Santos is most interested in agriculture. This is an industry that allows small businesses to interact with the local economy. It’s also a reliable investment for protecting the environment. Agriculture is also where she finds a naturally occurring resource that is often overlooked: human potential. When building a team for a project or business, Isabel dos Santos wants to recruit a diverse set of people that can offer up new perspectives.

This opens up options for a business, trains young women to respond to dynamic changes, and leads to her potential success. But success isn’t much harder to achieve without community support. When speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum last year, she argued that whether its Angola or all of Africa, prosperity is built from the ground up. Community work can come in many forms. For those with means, investing in the local infrastructure can make it clear to people that a business or a successful businessperson wants to improve the local quality of life. It can also mean promoting a business culture that welcomes young people to be part of a place that will value their contributions. Some times all it takes is being visible to engage a community, letting people know that their business aspirations can become reality.

For Isabel dos Santos, community engagement means direct involvement. She can often be found playing the mentor to young women on one of her many projects in Angola and beyond. She likes doing this in agriculture because women have solid representation there, building up a middle class. She feels her expertise insight could be appreciated there. Despite her involvement, young women face many challenges. Businesses reluctant to extend job opportunities and banks withholding loans makes it harder for women to achieve financial independence. These are challenges men don’t face as often, as Isabel dos Santos knows from her professional career in business. She’s done her part to address this through UN Women. As the richest African woman, she’s faced a male-dominated industry and sacrificed for success. She also fears that in Angola and beyond, those circumstances might limit the number of women becoming entrepreneurs. For Africa’s economy to modernize and grow, that must change.

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Categories: Investment, investment guru


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