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Stellenbosch Business School Development Finance Alumni Summit 2022

27 September 2022

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The first Development Finance Alumni Summit was hosted on 24 August 2022 based on the theme: “Connecting Development Finance Alumni for Sustainable Leadership and Development in Africa”. The more than 1000 Alumni of the Development Finance programmes (PhD, MPhil, and Postgraduate Diploma) since 2002, are making extraordinary impact on the Africa continent and beyond.

The role of development finance and the financial sector in the growth process in Africa and worldwide has been recognised for several decades. In Africa, in addition to the limited financial resources (both public and private) to address development challenges and failures, the traditional financial institutions and markets are often inadequately equipped to handle market failures due to information asymmetry, high risk and transaction costs. Inability to overcome information asymmetry problems between the role players in development inevitably stalls investment. Consequently, the continent is riddled with colossal infrastructure backlogs (such as roads, water supply, telecommunications, electricity, health, education and other infrastructure and services), lack of access to finance by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), agribusinesses, smallholder farmers, youth enterprises and the like.

Specialised development banks and institutions often created to address the market failures have also performed poorly due to a lack of resources and capacity constraints. Managing the development challenges will go beyond addressing market failures to embracing development failures, whether institutional, capacity, origination, information, and failures to facilitate strategic partnership for growth between the public and private sectors. The role of capacity constraints in addressing the development failures identified above lies at the heart of our efforts at Stellenbosch Business School. Because of the complexities of development challenges in Africa, the critical roles of financial resources and financial institutions in the development process deserve greater attention than typically given under the conventional economics or finance degrees both at undergraduate and master’s levels in African universities.

Moreover, the critical skills and training to cater to the needs of the highly desired development finance institutions (DFIs), microfinance companies, policymakers, and regulators in Africa’s development and innovative finance environment are barely addressed. In recognition of this great need in Africa, the Stellenbosch Business School, in line with its mission to provide excellent and innovative education in South Africa and beyond, launched three unique postgraduate programmes in Development Finance: PhD, MPhil and Postgraduate Diploma. The programmes have been training graduates that fill critical skill gaps in the DFIs (both national and multilateral) and the policymaking and regulatory institutions and better understand the complexities of and manage the different development finance resources available to the countries.

The programmes have proved to be a huge success, attracting the highest quality students from across Africa. Among the students are CEOs and Directors of Development Banks, a minister and an ex-minister and other senior managers. Stellenbosch Business School introduced the MPhil programme in 2003 as the first of its kind in Africa to develop critical capacity for development finance practitioners and policymakers in Africa, where such academic offering was lacking. The aim from inception was for the programme to provide the platform for training development finance practitioners from across Africa. So far, the programme has produced over 800 graduates from some 30 African countries and beyond.

The business school launched the PhD in Development Finance in 2013 to address a significant gap in the market in Africa. Indeed, it was another first for the business school. The programme was designed to help students develop the skill to carry out advanced level research and programme evaluation and equip them with discipline-based knowledge and skills in development finance. This is done through a core discipline-based curriculum, independent research thesis and regular participation in professional workshops with faculty and other candidates. The programme has close to 40 graduates. The Postgraduate Diploma in Development Finance was introduced in 2013. The programme provides highquality training to middle level managers who operate within the development finance environment to implement and manage the financing and design of specific interventions. The programme has produced over 200 alumni.

Many of the graduates from the three programmes are employed in senior management positions in central banks, commercial banks, national development banks and multilateral development finance institutions such as the International Finance Corporation, African Development Bank, African Export-Import Bank, African Finance Corporation, the African Union, and other public and private sector institutions including private consulting services. The growing number of graduates from the programme offers a unique opportunity for creating an industry network that will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and nurture new innovative ideas in the development finance and financial services industry to address Africa’s development challenges.

This network of practitioners has not been adequately harnessed for the continent’s benefit. The objectives of the Alumni Summit The Stellenbosch Business School Development Finance programmes have produced graduates in the past 15 years and have over 1000 alumni. While some efforts have been made to bring the alumni together at different alumni chapters, e.g., in West Africa, East Africa, South Africa, and country-specific chapters, the alumni have never been brought together in a single event. The Alumni Summit aims to reconnect alumni across the continent and beyond to unleash the potential of the alumni network in the spirit of the African Union.

The immense experiences in application of knowledge gained from the programmes will be vital to harness.

The Summit specific objectives were to:

  • Connect a powerful network of alumni across Africa and globally,
  • Invigorate an industry network that will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and nurture new innovative ideas in the development finance and financial services industry to address Africa’s development challenges
  • Create an awareness of the impact of responsible Development Finance leadership through sharing development finance alumni journeys on the continent
  • Showcase excellent experiences by institutional and corporate employers
  • Encourage an environment conducive to collaboration and knowledge-sharing among alumni
  • Create business and career opportunities for alumni, and foster continuous engagement across the continent

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