The name Isabel Dos Santos serves as an inspiration to millions of people throughout Africa, particularly Angola. As a champion of women’s rights, Isabel is also a role model for the youth and economic development. She has managed multi-national corporations with aplomb; providing employment opportunities for thousands of people. Her companies include Unitel, Efacec, Zap, Sodiba and Candando, but it is her leadership and steel spine that drives success, innovation, and change.
Angola, her home country, is peppered with opportunity. From the rural heartland of the country to the sprawling cities, people are jockeying for position in a rapidly growing economy. Spearheading these initiatives is Isabel Dos Santos with a multi-faceted approach to entrepreneurship, economic development, and equal opportunity for all. She routinely speaks about her vision for the African continent, where her hopes for democratic governance, peace and economic prosperity reign supreme.
On a personal level, she has offered up many juicy tidbits of advice for budding entrepreneurs.
Get the Skills You Need – Entrepreneurship and empowerment are inextricably intertwined. This is especially true in countries where segments of the population feel underrepresented, or sidelined. Angola, like other African countries tends to face a ‘gender bias’ in social and economic circles. This is evident in the type of work that men and women are ‘supposed’ to do, and their roles in society. Isabel works feverishly to encourage change through education, training, and skills development. Entrepreneurs do not lack ideas; they lack opportunity to put their ideas into practice.
To this end, Dos Santos has established multiple philanthropic initiatives to help build local enterprise. For example, strawberry growers throughout Angola are given support in several ways, including packaging materials, operational advice, supply chain management skills, cultivation technology, and a basic business acumen. These skills bode well for the women in local communities who can now have a hand in their own prosperity. The money generated through business activity can literally be ploughed into other areas such as education, training, and entrepreneurial ventures. In Isabel’s words, ‘Sustainable businesses are key to changing our continent.’
Take Charge of Your Future – As a woman in a fiercely competitive business world, Isabel knows how difficult it can be to make your voice heard and be taken seriously. Yet, despite this she persevered. An engineer by profession, she worked hard to graduate from Kings College in London and put her intellect to good use. She strongly advocates education as a foundation for development, prosperity, and economic growth. By sitting on the sidelines, nothing gets done. Successful entrepreneurs share many characteristics, notably determination and resilience. Education is less about IQ than it is about I can.
Get Mentored – If there’s one thing that many successful people routinely attest to, it’s a mentor figure in their lives. Guidance is key in the pursuit of financial independence. Isabel’s companies provide opportunities to facilitate mentorship programs, scholarships, and other educational initiatives. Local business leaders often serve their communities well through employment and development projects. The pathway to economic success is peppered with the learning curve. Mentors can guide you to success by dint of their experience and leadership.
Embrace Tech-Centric Economy –
Technology is a powerful tool in a business’s resource kit. Many budding entrepreneurs from rural enclaves, and developing countries are a little reluctant to embrace a tech-centric economy. Fortunately, greater exposure to technology ultimately leads to curiosity and adoption. Technology such as the IoT (Internet of things) is geared towards making life easier, businesses more productive, and bridging the great divide between the developing and developed world.
Technology, not race, culture, or creed is the great leveler in the global economy. Progressive countries operate on the cutting edge. The workforce is equipped with the tools needed to maintain a forward-leaning tech-centric economy. Entrepreneurs can increase productivity, decrease costs, and operate on a global scale by investing in the right technology.