J. Eric Wright was headed for Wall Street until he decided to take a year off in Africa. That short jaunt has stretched into nearly three decades on the continent — and led him to his life’s work.
Today, Wright is chairman of Africa Venture Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm based in South Africa, and director at the Picasso Group, a private investment and project development firm in the U.A.E. focused on energy, agriculture and real estate ventures in emerging markets. [email protected] spoke with Wright about the challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs in Africa.
An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
[email protected]: In recent years, Africa seems to be having this upsurge of entrepreneurial energy. From your perspective, what are some of the biggest opportunities for entrepreneurs in Africa today and why?
J. Eric Wright: I think the biggest opportunity for entrepreneurs is in the consumer space. The past 20 years or so, there was a heavy investment in infrastructure that’s allowed entrepreneurs to emerge and not require as much capital to build out infrastructure, which really was difficult for entrepreneurs to participate in.
Now that a lot of that infrastructure has been built, particularly in the communications space, a number of ventures are now coming online and many MBAs are coming back home as a first choice of employment. In previous years, their first choice was to go to London or New York and work for Bain or McKinsey or a big bank. Now they’re looking at starting their own businesses back home, many of which are in the consumer space.
Read more: Building the Entrepreneurial Base in Africa – [email protected]
- Africa: The great opportunity
- Fashion-conscious Lagosians switch to online shopping
- Nigeria’s Cars45 closes $5M round to digitize Africa’s used autos markets
- Africa is one of the few bright spots on the global economic horizon, says billionaire investor George Soros
- Profits and pitfalls on the private equity path into Africa: Hurley Doddy, Founding Partner, Emerging Capital Partners
- Armed with fintech and fueled by data: Africa’s banker of tomorrow
- M&A activity heats up in Africa as investors bet on growth
- Citi to Deutsche Bank on charm offensive in Africa as banks clamor for bond issuance deals
- Ashish Thakkar: Bob Diamond’s African partner in banking
- StanChart to hire 1,000 more staff in Africa: Diana Layfield, CEO, Standard Chartered Africa
- JPMorgan hires HSBC trader Lebogang Moropa to start up South Africa prime brokerage business
- Ranks of African millionaires swell
- LeapFrog acquires $22M majority stake in Kenya’s Goodlife Pharmacy (Video)
- Africa’s Economic Prospects: Bryan Leith, COO, KPMG Africa
- Helios said to be working with Citigroup to sell Nigeria’s Interswitch
- Local banks knock off foreign dominance in Kenyan market: Shiv Arora, Head of Private Equity Real Estate, Cytonn Investments
- Africa Comes Into View
- The “Africa Rising” story isn’t over yet, despite China’s slowdown and flagging growth in Nigeria and South Africa
- New York pension fund to invest up to $5.4B in Africa
- Private Equity in Africa: The Promise and the Challenge
- 4 reasons Africa is the rising star of the tech world
- As Bob Diamond readies Barclays Africa bid, South Africa warns on bank buyouts
- African tech startups raise record-breaking $370M in 2016: Partech Ventures (Infographic)
- Venture capital funding for African tech startups is really taking off – here’s why
- Eko Atlantic: Why Nigeria’s plans for a dream Eldorado city in Lagos are not radical enough (Video)
- Investors keep an eye on the big picture in Africa, in spite of short-term challenges
- VC firm TLcom rakes in $40 million for new Africa fund
- African private equity deals hit seven-year high
- MasterCard and Ecobank partner to accelerate electronic payments adoption in 28 Sub-Saharan African countries
- Gulf investments in Africa beginning to spread far and wide
- Jason Njoku’s iROKOtv raises $19M in series D financing
- South Africa joins emerging markets wave of sovereign bond sales
- Africa’s elite develops a taste for the finer things in life
- Dubai banking group Emirates NBD plans more success out of Africa
- Africa in 2016: Angola’s public venture capital fund FACRA
- Citi’s Head of African Investment Banking Miguel Azevedo preaches Africa’s growth story
- Global X MSCI Nigeria ETF: Speculative multi-year play approaching attractive valuation
- UAE Exchange looks to enter new African markets: Sudhir Kumar Shetty, Global COO, UAE Exchange
- For rapid growth, Africa is the new China – Gavin Graham, Chief Strategy Officer, Integris Pension Management
- Private equity firm Abraaj is interested in buying Barclays Africa (Infographics & Video)