#1 African Woman Investor to be highlighted at the Russia-Africa Summit

October 22, 2019 - 08:32
#1 African Woman Investor to be highlighted at the Russia-Africa Summit

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MediaOutReach - 22October 2019 - Russia-AfricaSummit will welcome many African leaders , mainly men and many in the politicalsphere. One well-known woman will stand out. Isabel dos Santos is a globally known Africaninvestor and she speaks more than 5 languages including Russian.


Blackfemale-owned businesses are the fastest growing economic force in the U.S. butwe have yet to see this same pace in other regions of the world. The challengesare the same. The challenges that black women face as entrepreneurs are lack ofstartup capital, resources and loans, along with racial and genderdiscrimination within the largely, male-dominated sectors of financing andtechnology.


Russia's ties to the African continentwere built up to new heights during the Soviet era as the superpower sought toaid independence movements in opposition and support post-independencegovernments.


Speaking at the Moscow StateInstitute of international Affairs last month, Russian Foreign Affairs ministerSergei Lavrov said that following the collapse of theSoviet Union, "Russian businesses began to look at promising projects abroad,and we began to return to Africa. This process has been ongoing for the past 15years."


As Russia seeks to reassert itselfon the global stage, rekindling these Africans ties are a toppriority for Moscow. Trade and investment between the two parties increased 185percentin just 10 years, between 2005 and 2015.


This week Isabel dos Santos is sureto make some heads turn at the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum in Sochito mark the first of its kind, being the first large-scale congregation ofAfrican leaders and businesses on Russian soil since the Soviet Union'scollapse. As one of Africa's largest investor and a businesswoman, she says "Iam looking to fruitful discussions on how to keep Africa rising."


French-language Jeune Afriquecited Isabel dos Santos as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Africa,but it should also include Portugal. PortugueseGDP was expected to grow by 2.1% in 2018 (two decimal points above the eurozoneaverage), 1.7% in 2019 (four decimal points above eurozone's average), and 1.7%in 2020 (again, one decimal point above eurozone's GDP growth).

As a graduate inengineering, she started her professional career at Coopers & LybrandPortugal, later working as Project. She developed her first business in theearly 90's, in the Food and Beverage sector, creating a beverage distributionlogistics company and a communications system for Walkie Talkie and Tower Relaythen became founder (1999) and member of the Board of Directors of Unitel, thesecond mobile telecommunications operator in Angola.

Her retail companyCandando, with hypermarkets, cinemas and shopping malls in Angola, supportsmore than 300 local producers and employs over 30 000 in the country. Sheis a founding member and member of the Board of Directors of Banco BIC Angolaand Banco BIC Português.


From June 2016 toNovember 2017, she was Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sonangol, Angola'snational oil and gas company during the most challenging time in her homecountry.


In Portugal, she is amember of the Board of Directors of NOS (formerly ZON), a cable TV companylisted on the Stock Exchange, and of Banco BIC Português and Efacec.


Isabel dos Santos saysthat "We live in promising times in the awareness of the role of women insociety. From the family, to the world of work, in politics, entertainment orscience, the contribution of women, in all dimensions of life, has achieved anunparalleled strength. And this strength must be promoted for the good of amore just, balanced and complete society.


The entrepreneur added that the keyto her success was the high growth of the Angolan economy when she beganinvesting. "We were lucky. Angola developed. During those 15 years, between2002 and 2017, the Angolan economy had an average growth rate of almost 8-9%," sherecalled, pointing out that Angola's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew in thisperiod, by almost 900% from $30 billion to $130 billion.


Science, Education, and Innovation for EconomicDevelopment during the Russia-Africa Summit, is a topicthat Ms dos Santos will surely have a few words to say. Africa is a classiccase where traditional charity has largely failed to lift people out of grindingpoverty and in many cases has led to a culture of dependency stated a recentarticle in The Guardian newspaper, and in part for this reason, Isabel dosSantos has launched the Isabel dos Santos Merit Grant. "You have to build your confidence,and it starts with education,".  Themerit grant is a reward for those that are ambitious students with skills tomake a difference in their community, but for multiple reasons are unable tocover the cost of their education.