It’s an interesting time to be in South Africa. Some 16 years after apartheid, this country was named the first African nation host to the 2010 FIFA World Cup – the largest sporting event in the world – having beaten out Morocco and Egypt in the bidding process. Already the gateway to Africa – the nexus where nations converge to move product to many of the world’s emerging markets – the country of 40-plus million people stand to benefit from a much-needed economic boost.
Black Enterprise Senior Photo Editor Lonnie C. Major and I were fortunate enough to be part of a group of journalists invited to South Africa to chronicle the country’s development, business and recreational opportunities. It’s a beautiful country, but not one without its share of political, social and economic issues. While about 90% of the country is either Black African or “Colored,” the vast majority of wealth is still controlled by white that make up about 9% of the population. By the way, “colored” is a non-offensive term for a multi-ethnic person that’s part Black African but not enough to be considered Black African. I was mildly amused to find out that despite being an African American employed by a black-owned media company that focuses on black-related business issues, I am not considered black in South Africa.
Racial disparity issues aren’t the only things that plague South Africa. The staggering level of unemployment (estimated at more than 50%), poverty, corruption, violent crime, and HIV-related cases are among the problems the people and the government struggle with. Despite this, there are opportunities here and quite a bit of money being made. And there are scores of African American entrepreneurs who learned this and are doing business there. And better yet, they were very excited that BLACK ENTERPRISE was coming to town. They were eager to meet with us to break down the good, bad and ugly of doing business in South Africa and the surrounding countries.
Photojournalist extraordinaire Lonnie Major will capture the sights of the trip, which we’ll also post.
Where are the business opportunities? How does an American tap into this market? What should one be wary of? What resources are there to help? Over the next few days, we’ll meet these African American entrepreneurs, pick the brains of the experts and share our findings. We’ll also find some fun stuff to do along the way. Stay tuned!
Alan Hughes is an editorial director of Black Enterprise.