September 12, 2008

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Africa Rising

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 3:20 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More Than You Think by Vijay Mahajan, Wharton School Publishing, 288 pages, $29.99, Hardcover, September 2008, ISBN 9780132339421
We tend to get an overly negative picture of Africa from its coverage in the press and on the silver screen, with stories focused on war, poverty, disease and corruption. This book awakens its reader to the great potential hidden by--and sometimes resulting from--the many challenges Africa faces, challenges innovative entrepreneurs are quietly addressing.
Author Vijay Mahajan took a "consumer safari" to explore what opportunities exist in Africa and lays them out in great detail in this book. He doesn't shy away from the continent's many obstacles, and recognizes time and again the need for better governance and charitable work on the continent. But, in detailing the promises and successes business has had in positive transformation, he shows that entrepreneurs aren't waiting for their governments to get on board. As Mahajan states:
While politicians look to change regulations and charitable organizations look to make up deficiencies, entrepreneurs create wealth. They ask: What are the opportunities?

Africa Rising is a hopeful book. Instead of the bleak picture we so often see on the news, the reader is immersed in stories of African business success and given a detailed picture of its markets. After recognizing that:
Just as it does not make sense to talk about an Asian market, or even an Indian, Chinese, or U.S. market, we need to be aware that discussing the African market covers up a multitude of complexities.

The author begins peeling away those layers, splitting the population into three consumer groups, looking at the continent's regional markets, and discussing opportunities in specific markets and industries.
Many in China have already seen the light, and Chinese businesses have been flocking to Africa--not only for the continent's resources, but also to meet its consumer's needs. This book will hopefully awaken more in the West to the promise and importance of Africa.
Majahan stresses again and again that as Africans begin to tell their story, our understanding of Africa will begin to change. He paints a vivid picture of a continent that he believes is, economically, where China and India were 20 years ago--on the brink of a great transformation.