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From Mauritius to Nigeria, 25 family businesses to look out for in Africa

Here is some key information about how they began and the value that they are adding to the continent.

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Mauritian businessman Arnaud Lagesse.

Family businesses play a critical role internationally and in the context of African economies. However, due to a lack of reliable data their significance and contributions are not fully appreciated or understood. One thing is clear, however – family-owned businesses are the backbone of the African economy.

Though family businesses abound across Africa, only a small fraction of these businesses survive into the second and third generations. While the majority of family business owners across the continent plan to pass their organizations to the next generation, the appropriate structures for ensuring this occurs are mostly lacking among African family businesses. Some of these structures include outlining how ownership and management are transferred. Very few family businesses have such structures in place including policies and procedures that have a significant impact on business continuity such as Testament/Last Will. Also, very few family businesses in Africa have a robust, formalized, and communicated succession plan in place.

Considering only a few African family businesses enjoy multi-generational survival, today Billionaires.Africa celebrates 25 leading family businesses in Africa that have successfully passed on business entities to the second and third generations.

The African family businesses on this list have met all of the following criteria:

·      They are 21 years and older. This 20-year time frame corresponds on average with a level of transition from first-generation control to at least some participation of the next generation of the family owners;

·      At least one member of the family is formally involved in the leadership of the company;

·      Listed companies are defined as family businesses if the persons who founded or acquired the company from their families or descendants control at least 25 percent or more of the decision-making rights required by their share capital; and,

·      The share capital controlled by the family is at least in the second generation or beyond.

Here are 25 family businesses in Africa, how they began and the value they are adding to the continent:

1. Cevital SPA

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryYear Employees 
DiversifiedIssad Rebrab Family$4 billionAlgeria197110,001+

Cevital Industries Group is Algeria’s largest privately-owned conglomerate founded by Issad Rebrab, Africa’s seventh richest man, in 1971.

It is a globally renowned food brand with 2-million MPTA sugar refineries, among the largest in the world. The company’s interests span the agri-food sector, retail, industry and services.

2. Mansour Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryYear Employees 
DiversifiedThe Mansour Family$7.5 billion Egypt1952 60,000+

Mansour Group is an Egypt-based multinational founded in 1952 by Loutfy Mansour. The family-run conglomerate is the second-largest company in Egypt in terms of revenue. 

It has an operational footprints in more than 100 countries globally, employing around 60,000 people.

The company’s interests span the energy, automotive, consumer durables, finance, retail, construction, tourism, shipping, defense, information technology, investment and food sectors.

It is also in partnership with some of the world’s leading brands, including General Motors, Peugeot, MG, Caterpillar and McDonald’s.

The company is managed by the Mansour brothers Mohamed, Youssef and Yasseen, who sit on the group’s board.

3. Al Mada 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedMorocco/The Royal Family$3.5 billion Morocco1966 ——-

Al Mada or Societe Nationale d’Investissement (SNI) is a large privately-held Moroccan holding company-conglomerate belonging to the Moroccan Royal Family. 

The company was founded in 1966 by the Moroccan State and Royal Family, located in Casablanca.

Al Mada holds stakes in major private companies in Morocco’s key sectors. The companies include AttijariWafa (banking), Managem (mining), Nareva (energy), Lafarge Cements and Marjane (retail). 

Al Mada also has investments in other African countries, including Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Gabon.

While King Mohammed VI owns the company, Moroccan businessman Hassan Ouriagli serves as its CEO.

4. Pick n Pay

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
RetailThe Ackerman Family$6.3 billionSouth Africa1967 10,001+

Pick n Pay is a South Africa-based supermarket chain founded in 1967 by Jack Goldin and later bought over by Raymond Ackerman.

Pick n Pay is South Africa’s second-largest chain store.

It has an operational footprint in other countries, including Pakistan, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Hong Kong and Iraq.

5. Akwa Group S.A

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
Oil & Gas / DiversifiedThe Akhenouch Family$3 billionMorocco19325000-10,000

Akwa Group S.A. is a Casablanca-based conglomerate privately held by the billionaire Akhenouch family.

Patriarch Ahmed Ouldhadj Akhannouch founded the company in 1932. His son, Aziz Akhannouch, who currently serves as Morocco’s minister of agriculture since 2007, serves as the CEO and chairman.

The company is engaged in the oil and gas industry and a further operation in the telecommunications, tourism, hospitality and real estate sectors. Its service stations operate under the Afriquia brand. 

6. El Sewedy Electric Co S.A.E.

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
Energy SolutionsThe Elsewedy family$2.9 billion Egypt1938 

Elsewedy Electric Co S.A.E. is a Cairo-based multinational electrical company founded in 1938 by the Elsewedy family. Ahmed Elsewedy is the group’s president and CEO.

The company manufactures and sells integrated energy products and services, including electrical cables and accessories, electrical products, telecommunications and transformers.

The company, which listed on the Cairo Stock Exchange in 2006, provides sustainable projects in energy and infrastructure.

7. Ezz Steel

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
Iron & SteelAhmed Ezz$2.2 billionEgypt1994 8,000+

Al Ezz Dekheila Steel Co. EZDK (Ezz Steel) is Egypt’s largest steel company. It is also the largest in the Middle East and North Africa. 

The company was founded in 1994. Ezz Steel and its subsidiaries engage in the manufacturing, trade and distribution of iron and steel products of diverse kinds and associated products and services. 

Farouk Ibrahim currently serves as the group’s chairman.

8. Elaraby Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
Manufacturing / RetailThe Elaraby Family—–Egypt196440,000+

Elaraby Group is an Egyptian joint stock family enterprise established in 1964.

It is a leader in developing and manufacturing consumer electronics and home appliances in Egypt, the Middle East and Africa. 

The company’s products are widely accepted in more than 60 countries. 

The Elaraby business has more than 40,000 employees, 16 commercial and industrial enterprises, over 3,000 sales partners, 17 trade stores across Egypt and approximately 600 after-sales service centers.

9. Memaar Al Morshedy 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
Real EstateThe Morshedy Family——-Egypt1983About 10,000

Memaar Al Morshedy is an Egypt-based real estate development company founded in 1983 by Mohamed Morshedy.

It provides a wide variety of real estate projects that ranges from economy-housing, middle-class housing, and up to premium accommodation all over Cairo and Giza.

 His son, Hassan Morshedy, currently serves as the company’s CEO.

10. Hassan Allam Holding 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
ConstructionThe Allam Family——-Egypt193634,000+

Hassan Allam Holding is a leading privately owned engineering, construction and infrastructure company based in Egypt.

The company was founded in 1936 by Hassan Allam as an informal construction company.

The company focuses on large-scale engineering and construction projects, building materials, electrical and utility investment and development.

It has a record 34,000+ employees in Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa.

Kamal Allam chairs the company’s 11-man board with five other family members also sitting on the board. They include Hassan, Amir, Samir, Hossam and Mohamed Allam.

11. Sipromad Group 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
Manufacturing / DiversifiedThe Akbaraly Family——-Madagascar19723,000

Sipromad Group is a Madagascar-based conglomerate that has spanned three generations. The group is engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of mass consumer products.

It further diversified into services and technology in the early 2000s.

In 1972, Sermamod Akbaraly founded Sipromad as a retail business specialized in detergents.

In 2020, he entrusted Sipromad to his son, Ylias Akbaraly, who transformed it into today’s diversified corporation, Sipromad Group.

Ylias is the company’s CEO.

12. Groupe SIFCA

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
AgribusinessPierre Billon—–Ivory Coast196433,000+

SIFCA is an Ivorian agribusiness group co-founded in 1964 by Pierre Billon, Henri Tardivat and Aime Barou.

The company focuses on three business segments, including oil palm, sugar cane and natural rubber.

It has its operations in six countries, including  Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and France, where it has ten subsidiaries with over 33,000 employees.

 In 2002, it entered into a strategic alliance with Michelin in the rubber sector.

13. Groupe Rawji 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Rawji Family—–Democratic Republic of  Congo19027,000+

Rawji Group is a leading diversified conglomerate based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group operates as a dominant force in the financial services, distribution, FMCG manufacturing and real estate sectors.

Businesses include Rawbank, Beltexco (DRC’s largest trading company), Prodimpex, Hexagon, Parkland and Marsavco, plus a significant stake in CIMKO. This cement plant aims to provide the country with a reliable and stable source of cement supply. 

14. Orientals Weavers Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
EnergyThe Khamis Family$600 millionEgypt197919,000+

The Oriental Weavers Group is a Cairo-based carpet maker, one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, founded in 1979 by industrialist and entrepreneur Mohammed Farid Khamis.  

The group engages in the production, sale, and export of ready-made carpets.

Its products include area rugs, custom carpets, and Gobelin tapestry through segments including woven, tufted, non-woven felt, and fibers and handmade. 

Oriental Weavers produces three grades (A, B, and C) of machine-woven carpets and rugs for the residential, commercial and hospitality industries.

It has offices in London and the U.S. cities of Dalton, New York and Las Vegas.

Leading shareholders include Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis, Farida Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis, Yasmine Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis.

15. Madhvani Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Madhvani Family$1 billion+Uganda 191410,000+

The Madhvani Group of Companies, commonly referred to as the Madhvani Group, is one of the largest conglomerates in Uganda founded in 1914 by Muljibhai Madhvani.

The group has investments in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Middle East, India and North America.

The business is involved in agriculture and agro-processing, steel, packaging, hotels and tourism, insurance, information technology, media and communication, construction, distribution of industrial products and consumer durables.

Family figures in the business include Muljibhai Madhvani, Jayant Madhvani, Manubhai Madhvani, Pratap Madhvani, Surendra Madhvani and Mayur Madhvani.

16. IBL Limited 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Lagesse Family$124.72 millionMauritius193925,750+

IBL Limited is the largest business group on the island nation of Mauritius. It started out in the country’s shipping and sugar industries in the 1830s. Today, it stands as one of the region’s largest diversified groups and working across nine business segments in 25 countries worldwide.

It is one of Mauritius’ largest private employers.

17. CIEL Group 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployes 
DiversifiedThe Dalais Family$516.55 millionMauritius191232,000+

CIEL Group is a Mauritius-based multinational investment company operating in five clusters, including agriculture, finance, healthcare, hotels and resorts, property and textiles.

The company mainly provides long-term growth and dividend income for distribution to investors. It invests in a diversified portfolio of equity and equity-related investments. 

The group is present in more than 10 emerging markets across Africa and Asia. 

The company generates most of its revenue from the textile segment. It exports more than 33 million garments annually and has production units in Mauritius, Madagascar, India and Bangladesh.

Arnaud Dalais is the chairman and major shareholder in CIEL Group.

18. Export Trading Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
Agriculture / AgribusinessThe Mahesh Patel Family$2.9 billion+(2016)Kenya19677000+

Export Trading Group (ETG) is a diversified agricultural conglomerate specializing in farming, trading, and processing of agricultural commodities.

Mahesh Patel founded the company in 1967. It owns and manages a vertically integrated supply chain across five continents (48 countries).

ETG has emerged as one of Africas largest Agricultural Conglomerates. Patel currently serves as its  chairman and CEO.

19. ENL Group 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Noel Family$330 million (2015)Mauritius 18216,800+

The ENL group is a Mauritius-based conglomerate founded precisely a century ago by Martial Henri Rene Noel.

It is a broad-based enterprise developing and managing a portfolio of more than 120 international and homegrown brands in industries including agro-industry, real estate, hospitality, logistics, fintech, commerce and manufacturing.

The fifth generation of Noels currently manages the family-run public company.

20. ABC Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Ah Chuen Family$47.17 Million (2020)Mauritius19311,400+

ABC Group is a leading conglomerate in Mauritius founded in 1931 by Sir Moilin Jean Ah Chuen. It is a closely-held family empire.

The company started its operations as a retail grocery store in Port Louis opposite the Central Market under the name ABC, meaning “Au Bazar Central” (At the Central Marketplace) and “Aux Bonnes Choses.”

The business operates in five main industries: automobile, banking, financial and insurance services, foods, and shipping and logistics. 

21. Bidco Africa

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
FMCG / Manufacturing.The Shah Family$500 million+Kenya 197025, 000+

Bidco Africa is a Kenya-based multinational conglomerate founded in 1970  by Bhimji Depar Shah and his family to manufacture garments. 

But over the years, the group has grown to become East Africa’s leading FMCG company. With more than 40 brands, it is the largest producer and marketer of consumer goods in the region.

Its headquarters is in Thika, Kenya, with subsidiaries and distributors across 17 countries in East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa.

Its products include edible oils, fats, margarine, laundry bars and detergents, personal care products, animal feeds, and food and beverages.

22. Nasco Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
FMCGThe Nasreddin Family$540 millionNigeria19631,800+

The NASCO Group was founded in 1963 by Eritrean businessman Ahmed Idris Nasreddin.

It started its operation with the establishment of a jute bag factory in Jos, Nigeria. This was the first in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The company manufactures and distributes brands across the food and household sectors.

 Idris Nasreddin passed a few months back. His son Attia Nasreddin currently serves as the CEO.

23. MeTL Group 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Dewji Family$1 billion+Tanzania197024,000+

Gulamabbas Dewji founded Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL)  Group in 1970 as a small trading company.

It is Tanzania’s largest home-grown company, with a presence in 11 countries in Africa, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

MeLT’s interest spans manufacturing, Agriculture, infrastructure, trading, mobile telephony, financial services, transport, infotech and distribution.

Mohammed (Mo) Dewji, Tanzania’s richest man, currently drives the company he inherited from his father.

24. Bakhresa Group 

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Bakhresa Family$800 million (2016)Tanzania19838,000+

Bakhresa Group is an industrial conglomerate based in Dar es Salam,  Tanzania.

The company is owned by Tanzanian multimillionaire Said Salim Bakhresa, whose four sons serve as executive directors on the company’s board. 

The group is one of the largest in the region, with operations spread in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

It has investments in agribusiness, beverages, logistics, media, oil trading, recycling, entertainment and packaging. 

25. Elnefeidi Group

Segment Ownership Revenue CountryyearEmployees
DiversifiedThe Elnefeidi Family——–Sudan1934——

Elnefeidi group is a Sudanese family-owned business founded in 1934 by Haj Bashir Elnefeidi.

Elnefeidi started small as a soap maker but has grown into an industrialized group that has experienced decades of transformations and expansion in the agriculture, logistics, automotive, commercial food, real estate, electronics and aviation industries.

The group’s operations and affiliates span Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Amin Bashir Elnefeidi currently serves as the group’s president.

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Nassef Sawiris’ Orascom Construction adds new projects worth $785 million in Q4 2021

Orascom Construction is a leading global engineering and construction contractor founded by the late Egyptian industrialist Onsi Sawiris.

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Nassef Sawiris.

Egyptian engineering and construction contractor, Orascom Construction Plc, has added new projects worth $785 million to its backlog of active construction works in Q4 2021.

According to a press statement issued by the leading construction group, the new projects raised the total number of awards linked to the group by 22 percent to $3.5 billion in 2021.

A breakdown of the figure revealed that projects in the Middle East comprised 55 percent of the new awards for the period., including transportation and power projects in Egypt and water projects in Egypt and Tunisia.

Outside the Middle East, new awards in the United States accounted for 45 percent of the total additions in the quarter, and this was driven by new projects in the commercial sector.

As of Dec. 30, 2021, the estimated consolidated backlog stood at $6.1 billion. This is $100-million higher than its figure for Q3 2021.

The new projects added in Q4 2021 lagged behind the volume of new awards added in Q3 2021, which amounted to $962.4 million thanks to Orascom signing a deal to build Egypt’s first high-speed rail system, as well as sizeable contracts in the student housing sector in the United States.

Orascom Construction is a leading global engineering and construction contractor founded by the late Egyptian industrialist Onsi Sawiris, who died on June 29 at 91.

The billionaire Sawiris family holds a 51.8-percent stake in the Egypt-based contractor through OS Private Trust Company, while Egypt’s wealthiest man Nassef Sawiris owns a 28.97-percent stake in the group, amounting to 33,825,323 ordinary shares.

As of press time, Jan. 18, shares in the group were trading at EGP76 ($4.829) per share. This is 1.23-percent higher than their opening price on the Egyptian Stock Exchange this morning.

At this price, the company’s market capitalization is EGP8.87 billion ($563.9 million).

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Led by Uganda-based Kaivan Sattar, Asaak raises $30 million to deepen operations in Africa

Mzabi, who started ARTES with his brothers Mzoughi and Sadok, holds a substantial 24.8-percent stake in the company. 

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Kaivan Sattar.

Ugandan fintech startup, Asaak, has raised $30 million in a pre-Series-A funding round to deepen operations, as it prepares to enter new markets on the continent in line with its strategic expansion plans.

Asaak is a Ugandan startup co-founded by Kaivan Sattar, Anthony Leontiev, Edward Egwalu and Dylan Terrill in 2016.

It operates as a financial services provider to unbanked Ugandan entrepreneurs, providing financing for motorcycle operators who are locked out by formal banking institutions.

Since it commenced operations about six years ago, the startup has financed the purchase of 5,000 motorcycles and started offering smartphones and fuel financing to operators.

Its pre-Series-A funding round, which is a mix of equity and debt financing, was led by Resolute Ventures, Social Capital, HOF Capital, Founders Factory Africa, End Poverty Make Trillions, Decentralized VC and a number of angel investors.

The startup noted that the $30-million capital injection will be used to support the acquisition of motorbikes for operators and also the adoption of smartphones by taxi operators.

It also revealed plans to enter six new markets in Africa in the near future.

Dylan Terrill, co-founder and chief business officer of Asaak, said: “Asaak is unlocking mobility-based work, which literally moves the economy forward and creates upward mobility for these individuals. Bodaboda riders are the lifeblood of Africa, moving people and cargo from home to school to work. They just need access to motorcycles which leads them to better income opportunities and makes them able to provide for their families.”

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African billionaire heirs are making their mark in philanthropy

The progeny of some of Africas’s wealthiest people are putting in more of their time to giving and impacting.

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Tsitsi Mutendi, co-founder of African Family Firms.

For many years philanthropy and Africa have been marred by the images of poor African children, starvation and refugees fleeing war-torn zones. However, if you live on the continent, you will know that it’s a vibrant and colorful place that has its challenges like all geographic locations. Some of the images that have plagued Africa have been real, but they do not tell the holistic story.

As the world has evolved, so has Africa. With a lot more homegrown wealth and an increase in millionaires and billionaires on the continent, we have seen the introduction of African foundations created and led by African families, African family offices and African family businesses. Africa has one of the fastest-growing markets of high net-worth individuals, and many of these individuals are becoming entrenched in sustainable philanthropy.

You may ask, “Where is this money coming from?”

According to a report authored by AfrAsia bank in 2021, the total private wealth held in Africa was standing at $2 trillion as of December 2020. In addition to this homegrown wealth, according to the World Bank, Africa diaspora remittances being sent home were about $48 billion in 2020.

With all this money being found on the continent in its various forms, we are beginning to see African giving becoming the norm and pushed forward by the spirit of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]) is a Nguni Bantu term meaning, “humanity.” It is sometimes translated as, “I am because we are.” Ubuntu is essentially about togetherness and how all of our actions impact others and society.

In Africa, this culture and way of life permeates to everyday gestures in the course of life. In the past, it applied to family, friends and community members, but now we are seeing it expand to a broader audience and in various ways. African philanthropists are looking towards impact and addressing issues they experienced or their communities experience in a way that changes the narrative and creates opportunities for their recipients.

Most notable about the giving is that the conversation is not only being led by the African founders or matriarchs and patriarchs, but next-gens are also equally putting in their weight and names to giving and impacting. Some of the notable next-gen givers are:

  • Florence “Cuppy” Otedola, and the Cuppy Foundation. Cuppy is the daughter of billionaire Femi Otedola. The Cuppy Foundation tackles child protection and education issues for girls and persons with disabilities (minorities). Cuppy has spearheaded several initiatives, such as her “Cuppy Takes Africa” tour in 2015 in partnership with Guarantee Trust Bank and the Dangote Foundation. She has also personally paid for multiple students to go to university in Nigeria and worked with various organisations such as the Global Citizen, Royal Commonwealth Society, and the Save The Children Initiative, where she raised over $13 million.
  • Elizabeth Tanya Masiyiwa, the daughter of Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa, is an executive director at Delta Philanthropies. Delta Philanthropies is a UK-registered charity founded by the Masiyiwa family and governed under the UK Charity Commission. Its strategic pillars include education, health, rural transformation and sustainable livelihoods, disaster relief and preparedness. Its impact has seen millions of dollars being put into creating a difference, and according to their website, it has impacted over 15 million people and counting.
  • Halima Aliko Dangote is a trustee for the Dangote Foundation. The foundation has become the largest private foundation in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the largest endowment by a single African donor. The foundation is interested in health, education, empowerment and humanitarian relief.
  • Naguib, Samih and Nassef Sawiris all sit on the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development board, a charity that provides microcredit to Egyptian entrepreneurs and grants scholarships to outstanding Egyptian students in tertiary institutions. 
  • A most notable next-gen founder and philanthropist is Mohammed Dewji. The Tanzanian billionaire joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half of his wealth to philanthropic causes. Dewji’s Mo Dewji Foundation focuses on three areas: health, education, and community development. Over five years, the Mo Dewji Foundation has spent more than $3 million in grants and other forms of funding for community service projects, supporting schools, hospitals and wells.

As we can now see, philanthropy is no longer just a buzzword. The global pandemic has highlighted why philanthropy is essential, especially when people are left marginalised. And Africa’s families have heeded the call and put their charitable giving to use. Next-gens being the key to continued giving, when they actively participate and lead the charge, they start exploring sustainable solutions in regions they are familiar with and communities they live amongst. It’s well worth seeing how the next-gens will drive the philanthropic future of the continent.

Through this work, we will see the values and vision of the various financial leaders of the continent and the future stewards of their wealth.

Tsitsi Mutendi is a co-founder of African Family Firms, an organization that aims to facilitate the continuity of African family businesses across generations. She is also the lead consultant at Nhaka Legacy Planning and the host of the Enterprising Families Podcast.

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