Isabel dos Santos, the richest woman in Africa believes that some of the most promising and successful business people in the world are African because of the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit.
She says the spirit however has been weighed down by the stigmatization of women in the workplace, robbing the economy of valuable innovators and has barred women from achieving their ambitions.
Dos Santos believes that she can change this attitude and instill a national confidence in women, ensuring that young women can access the same education, job opportunities, and potential for growth as men.
The continent’s richest women has spent a lot of time planting seeds in Africa, focusing her efforts in her home country of Angola where she meets with young people and speaks with them about the power of entrepreneurship.
Sometimes, she visits them in small, personable rooms at universities and other institutions, other times in much larger ones during her speeches and debates.
Most tellingly, she refers to famous African entrepreneurs as a ‘great family’ and invites everyone with the motivation to work hard and come join them.
She often encourages young women to leverage the world’s increased reliance on technology and artificial intelligence, which she refers to as ‘digitalization’.
She believes working toward innovations in technology is key to increasing Africa’s presence in the international economy while flooding the continent with unique employment opportunities.
Dos Santos believes with just a computer and internet connection, unemployed or underpaid citizens can find more work, sometimes with the higher wages that are more commonplace in developed countries, to support their families and stimulate their local economies.
During a conversation with students at the University of Warwick interested in developing Africa, dos Santos tells a young woman who is eager to accomplish her ambitions “now” that she has to be patient and have not just a goal but a string of subgoals to reach it.
She goes on to encourages the student to involve herself as deeply as she can in the decision processes that influence that goal, and also to understand that sometimes it’s important to just focus on school, other times on a career or starting a business. This type of advice for strategic hesitance can be found in many of her speeches.
Isabel dos Santos is the daughter of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s long-time former president. Much of her wealth came from her investments and her previous position as the chairwoman of an oil company owned by the state called Sonangol.
Dos Santos considers herself an independent businesswoman and investor, become Africa’s first females billionaire. Forbes ranks her as the 9th wealthiest billionaire in Africa for 2018.