Just before our wedding, my fiancé, sat down with me to brainstorm potential job opportunities for him. He required something entrepreneurial. I had grown up in South Africa and had spent years investing in the country and across the African continent, so I suggested a few industries where I saw opportunities for disruption or growth. One of these was the share trading market, where the fees charged by the incumbent financial institutions were multiple times higher than other global providers, despite using similar technology platforms.
We reached out to a large global trading platform with the aim of selling it into the South African market and other African markets that possessed similar dynamics. Once the global provider was on board, I assisted my husband with raising the capital needed to start the business, obtaining the required licenses, and formulating a business plan.
It has been rewarding to see the impact that the business, has had on the market. With hundreds of new clients paying much lower fees, it has opened the investment world to many more investors and has started to get the attention of the incumbent players. In time all these players will have to drastically reduce their fees to continue competing, thereby lowering the investment barriers for many middle-class investors.
At Wharton I hope to find fellow students who share my passion for the African continent, by joining the Wharton Africa Student Association. There I hope to contribute from my understanding of the African business environments and cultures, as well as my experience advising a start-up in Africa, to raise awareness about the investment and business opportunities in Africa. I want to share my experiences helping businesses with inefficiencies and challenges, and share my views on where these same challenges create unique opportunities.
I also hope to use my background of investing in Africa, to advance the knowledge of other students who are interested in investing in other developing economies. Many of the lessons that I have learnt can be applied universally, such as the approach to investing in illiquid stocks.