Africa as one country and not 53,” says Joseph Huggins a subject in the film. “I think [there] is a lack of knowledge in terms of what Africa has to offer as an investment opportunity.” Huggins, a career foreign service officer and former ambassador to Botswana, retired from the Foreign Service in 2006. He’s now president and CEO of The Huggins Group, an investment umbrella group formed in November of 2006. With several partners Huggins also formed two companies, Energy Resources International L.L.C. and Travel Leisure (Pty) Ltd. to focus on interests in energy and ecotourism respectively throughout several countries in both Africa and the Middle East.
“Before you make any investment…you need information,” says Teresa Clarke, an investment banker who is featured in the film and attended the event. “That’s why this film is so important, to [help] educate about Africa.” Clarke first became interested in Africa in the mid-80s as South Africa struggled against the apartheid. Clarke ended up traveling to South Africa in the early 1990s and then returned to live in the region from 1995—2000. “Investing in Africa is a generations old tradition in Europe,” but she adds that “we in this country do not have this experience, hence we don’t think of Africa as an investment destination.” For investors thinking of what sectors to explore on the continent, Clarke points to particularly strong growth rates in the telecommunications and commodities-based businesses. She also suggests exploring U.S.-based mutual funds with professional managers who make informed investment decisions about Africa, and closely monitor those investments.”
“You have pockets of interesting stories that are developing in Africa,” says Chamberlain S. Peterside, founder and CEO of the boutique investment firm, New Era Capital Corp. “It is a [great] time to begin to look for opportunities with companies that are based here … look locally for advisers from the U.S. market [as a gateway] to the African continent … think global but look local. African investors and African American business leaders can begin to collaborate.”