I recently attended the first symposium held by the newly formed MBA Business in Africa Club. The club’s focus is to prepare those with an interest in Africa for the business opportunities that exist there. The symposium,  called Innovation in Africa, was held on March 21, and featured two prominent Duke alumni, who are actively contributing to the development of the continent, particularly within the realms of finance and healthcare.

Damian Dolland (a Duke alumnus) currently heads JP Morgan’s Investment Banking Business in Sub-Saharan Africa. He spoke at length about the opportunities which exist in Africa today as well as the challenges and concerns which lie ahead, especially in respect to commerce and the role of China in Africa’s development.

The other speaker at the event was Dr. Muhammed Ali Pate, who is the Nigerian Minister of State for Health. With his extensive background in organizations such as the WHO, he contributed to the discussion from a healthcare perspective, with specific examples from his experiences globally and in Nigeria. Dr. Pate has specifically worked to eliminate polio in Nigeria. He’s a Fuqua alumnus.

The general theme of discussion was to generate interest in Africa and also speak realistically about the opportunities and challenges which exist on the continent. As someone with a strong interest in working in Africa, it was truly an inspirational event.