Time Magazine: Africa’s Repatriate Generation

By Vivienne Walt –
The oil-rich african nation of Chad has rampant corruption, unclean water, few tarred roads and patchy electricity. It ranks as the world’s second most dysfunctional country, after Somalia, according to the 2011 Failed States Index of the Washington-based nonprofit Fund for Peace. In short, Chad seems a nightmare location for business — unless, that is, you are Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, 45, or Patrice Backer, 44, of Advanced Finance & Investment Group, a private-equity fund-management company in Dakar, Senegal, that has so far invested about $72 million in African financial institutions, agriculture and mining. Ndiaye, the fund’s CEO and founder, and Backer, the chief operating officer, have been plotting how to get rich ever since they became best friends as freshmen at Harvard University and worked together at JPMorgan. Decades later, their most lucrative prospect last year was a bank in Chad. “It’s like low-hanging fruit,” says Ndiaye, describing the investment climate in Africa. “There is no competition. If you know what you’re doing, it is a bonanza.” Such bonanzas are increasingly being sought out by a fast-growing group: Africans who have returned home after years of living, working and studying in the West. Though still a small subculture, African executives who have abandoned high-flying careers on Wall Street, in the City of London and in other financial hubs are becoming a force across the continent, their impact far outstripping their numbers…. “There is a momentum among young, upwardly mobile people to come home,” says Rolake Akinola, a Nigerian business analyst with years of work experience in London. “We call ourselves the Repatriate Generation…
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