Africa’s Leading Innovators and Investors Share Best Practices at the Harambeans Vatican Forum and Receive Special Greeting from Pope Francis

The Harambean community gathered at the Vatican in September for its fifth biennial forum to reaffirm its pledge to work together as one to build Africa’s future. The event brought together Harambeans and Guilds, the network of investors, experts and founding partners that make up the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance. The three-day gathering included billboards on metro stops and buses courtesy of Harambean partner JC Decaux, a blessing for the Alliance in the Vatican Gardens and a thanksgiving dinner at the Pope’s summer residence.

Harambeans and Guild members reflected on the strength of the ecosystem and the progress that has been made over the last 12 years and shared insights and best practices gleaned from across the Alliance. The gathering also welcomed a new founding partner, the Oppenheimer Generations Foundation, represented by Jonathan Oppenheimer and Bridget Fury.

Irene Pritzker, who was on her second “Romecoming” representing the IDP Foundation, a founding partner of the Alliance, reflected on the alignment of her partnership with the Alliance. “We feel that the way that Africa will dig itself out of poverty is through creative, scalable, sustainable and very profitable innovations in social entrepreneurship. And that’s what Harambeans are all about. And since we began our support, we’ve been nothing but super impressed with what we’ve seen.”

Pardon Makumbe, one of the founding partners at CRE Venture Capital, mentor and investor in several Harambean ventures including Andela, Flutterwave and Yoco celebrated the empowering aspect of the community. “Harambe becomes a place where you share ideas, you feel connected, you support each other and that’s probably the primary proposition of Harambe for me – being a home and a community for entrepreneurs. For me what’s powerful about Harambe is the worldview that says we can actually do this, that the Africa we’re fighting for is not some distant abstraction, but is something that initially looks impossible, becomes improbable and then becomes inevitable as you lean in it. That attitude and world view makes these entrepreneurs and us as a Harambe community feel empowered to wake up every morning and fight the good fight and I think that’s a pretty powerful thing.”

Jeremiah Gordon, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of CapitalG, formerly Google Capital, made the pilgrimage to Rome along with his wife, “I’ve been able to see the growth of technology in Africa and see up close what Harambeans can and should be able to do. I have been a keen supporter of the Releaf Group for three reasons, which have kept me involved and interested in their efforts. Firstly, Ikenna Nzewi H’17 and Emmanuel Udotong H’17 have been through the Bay area incubator, Y Combinator, and are first rate entrepreneurs who understand how technology and scale work and who have a deep and lifelong commitment to Africa. Secondly, they are pursuing a really important need in Africa – to make the economics of agriculture work better for more people and in a more profitable way. And finally, because Releaf is just a good business.”

Adetayo Bamiduro H’15, the founder of MAX NG, one of numerous Harambeans in attendance who is leveraging the Harambean community of entrepreneurs, experts and investors to drive the growth of his venture observed that, “The Alliance is a group of people who have shared values and a shared vision of the destination. It’s not just about creating businesses and making a lot of money, but creating ventures that create lasting impacts – focused on transforming Africa’s reputation and making Africa a strong and independent continent. Joining Harambe is like joining a family who is committed to transforming the fortunes of the African continent.”

Reflecting on the Forum in the Eternal City of Rome, Harambeans Founder, Okendo Lewis-Gayle, remarked that the rendezvous reminded Harambeans and Guild members alike why trust is at the center of their ecosystem. “It’s what binds our Alliance together and enables Harambeans and our Guild of investors and experts to share risks and work together across geographical borders, time zones and cultural barriers. It is the secret sauce that is enabling us to build Africa’s future.”

It was only appropriate that this momentous gathering concluded with gracious recognition of the Harambeans by Pope Francis who said during his weekly Angelus, “Greetings to the young African entrepreneurs committed to working together – Harambeans – for the future of Africa!”

Watch the video here.


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