Development and entrepreneurship in Africa

The company is just one part of Wade’s “comprehensive plan for Africa,” an anti-aid alternative to the Jeffrey Sachs vision.

A fascinating quote from a fascinating article on the Freakonomics blog, about three entrepreneurs in Africa. The woman whose quote I extracted above is Magatte Wade, and she’s the reason the story deserves a mention here. Her company — Adina for Life — came into being when she returned home to Senegal “and was disappointed to find that the traditional hibiscus drink of her childhood had been usurped by Western soft drinks”.

Hibiscus drinks are indeed a constant in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and hibiscus has been the focus of efforts to improve livelihoods by capitalizing on its popularity. Adina seems to be in a state of turmoil at the moment — with its US outlets suffering a crisis of identity and Wade apparently no longer associated with the company, at least in the US. But the larger point, that it is possible for Africans to make better use of their own natural resources remains valuable, and the other two stories in the Freakonomics story amplify that.

I wonder, though. Adina plunged into the cut-throat soft drinks market of the US. Why, when the stated goal was to replace sticky soft drinks in the home market? Wouldn’t that be enough?

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