It was a trip to South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup that ignited a passion for Africa in Emile Heskey. The former Premier League footballer has teamed up with Zimbabwean born entrepreneur, Davison Simango, to launch the Alkebulan Group. The company is planning to invest in sectors that can help drive the economies of Africa forward. Heskey has previously supported the Shoe Aid for Africa campaign, with footballers donating their boots to children in Africa. In an interview with BizNews, Heskey and Simango said the heart of the group’s ethos is the desire to help make a lasting change in Africa. They want to blend business with philanthropy with a focus on elevating women. Heskey also spoke about his new role at Leicester City, where he was helping the women’s team, called the Foxes. – Linda van Tilburg
Emile Heskey on the desire to invest in Africa:
When I came to Africa the first time in 2010, you get a vision of what Africa is like from the media It blew me away, South Africa was the first place that I actually went to. with the World Cup in 2010. You get a vision of what it’s supposed to be like; well your vision is blown away when you’re actually there. I took my whole family out there and they absolutely loved it. Then it was just about what can you do to give back. I looked at football. and different industries.
Then we were speaking with Davison and decided to look at investments where we could get investment funds to look at infrastructure and different sectors. We’re also looking at empowering women and having more diversity within the working structure. We’ve come a long way in England, where we would like to think we’re very diverse – but we are a lot better than most. Now you look at Africa, the continent itself is growing so quickly. We would like to try and get into that and hopefully build relationships and build sustainability.
Davison Simango on his role and involvement:
I’m the CEO and co-founder. We were doing some other projects with email and we spoke about how can we give back to Africa. Instead of just doing simple projects like donating food buckets, we thought, “how can we bring sustainable development? How can we bring something that will better a lot of people?”
That’s when we came up with Alkebulan Group. We put everything together to help the whole continent. The concept of the group is to bring jobs and education to the African continent, because we’re looking at a system whereby any investments or projects that we bring on board, we want to incorporate 50% of a local workforce. By doing so, they will get employment and the education that they need. By the time we are done, we leave them a legacy – something that’s going to bring about change and transform their lives.
On what the group plans to invest in:
We’re looking at mining, agriculture, healthcare, oil and gas and education – all sectors. We’re very open to what we’re trying to do, because our portfolio covers all sectors.
On which part of Africa the group wants to start investing in:
When we started, we were thinking more Southern Africa – because I’m from Zimbabwe – but with the way things are going now, I think we’re open to whichever country comes first – we don’t mind, as long as we bring help that’s required by these countries. We’ve spoken to the government in Ghana, as well as the government in Zimbabwe and Botswana.