JCU Alumni Host Panel Discussion "Africa: The Last Frontier?"

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Stefano Benedikter, founder of Dagon Holdings Limited

Stefano Benedikter, founder of Dagon Holdings Limited

On November 10, the JCU Institute for Entrepreneurship welcomed alumni Kenneth Anye and Stefano Benedikter to the panel “Africa: The Last Frontier?” IFE director Prof. Silvia Pulino invited them to have an inside view on Africa today, and to discuss how they are applying their entrepreneurial talent in the emerging continent.

Kenneth Anye founded JUDNO Corporation, a business development firm in emerging markets with Sub-Saharan Africa. JUDNO provides a suite of products from risk consultancy to actual operations in specific sectors such as telecommunications and technology.

 Stefano Benedikter has been an active investor in emerging and frontier markets since 2009, gaining experience initially in Dubai and Singapore, and then across Africa, starting in Sierra Leone. Stefano is the founder of Dagon Holdings Limited and expanded its business in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, and most recently in Uganda, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Anye and Benedikter started investing in farming in Zimbabwe and exporting strawberries to European countries. The biggest challenge of moving to the African market was getting approval from the local government. “Politics has made it hard to do business. Many countries have really high taxes and corruption,” Anye explained.

Kenneth Anye (left) founder of JUDNO Corporation

Kenneth Anye (left) founder of JUDNO Corporation

The two entrepreneurs soon decided to dive into food retailing. They contacted PizzaHut to open their first restaurant in Zambia, and since it was a huge success, more restaurants were opened in other locations. The result brought fast food, jobs, and many empowering opportunities to the country. They also started a partnership with a school in Zambia that would benefit from part of the profit made by PizzaHut.

They concluded by saying that Africa is growing exponentially and experiencing a fast transformation. This provides a vast landscape of economic opportunities for young entrepreneurs to bring in new ideas. “In Africa, you can make investments, you can produce and sell anything, there’s a huge demand. There are billions of dollars of funds that are sitting there. Waiting for the next big idea.”