Industry: Education, Finance, & Impact Investment
Founding Student Names: Jacob Fohtung (MBA’19 MS’20)
Brief Description of Solution: At Jamani Corporate Group, we want to be the leading platform that connects and delivers a unique ecosystem for entrepreneurship in Africa, incorporating in-depth entrepreneurship research in emerging markets, a community of experts, world-class consultation, and impact investments. The current entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa is fragmented with several actors, both foreign and local, duplicating similar functions, resulting in unsustainable investments and ventures across the continent.
Funding Dollars: $4,700
What led you to launch this venture? This started with an independent study course with Professor Phillip Kim in the Entrepreneurship Division at Babson College. I was interested in emerging markets and his experience in this field contributed to the development of my project. I then started to travel to some of these markets in order to understand the trends in entrepreneurship and investing.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with your venture? My biggest accomplishment is developing a thesis for a sustainable way to build an impact investment fund within Jamani Corporate Group that will be beneficial to the African community in the long-term. I did this by interviewing over 20 accomplished entrepreneurs and investors in emerging markets from across the world, including Peru, Thailand, South Korea, and Taiwan.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? In my Babson MBA program, I received a lot of support and advice from faculty members such as Dr. Wiljeana Glover, who provided me the opportunity to travel to Uganda in the summer of 2017, where I was exposed to the challenges of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa. I received guidance and mentorship from the entrepreneurship centers at Babson and experts such as Rachel Greenberger, Director of FoodSol, and Cindy Klein Marmer, Associate Director of the Butler Launch Pad at the Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. Finally, I learned from professors such as Dr. Phillip Kim, who helped me understand emerging markets, and Dr. Jonathan Sims, who provided me with the framework of solving problems from the ecosystem level rather than focusing on one stakeholder within it.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Sangu Delle, founder of Golden Palm Investments, an advisory company focused on high growth and impact industry sectors across Africa, inspired me.
In 2015, I watched his TED Talk “In Praise of Macro—Yes, Macro–Finance in Africa,” and from there, I began thinking about how I could get involved in entrepreneurship opportunities in Africa. Most importantly, I developed the mindset to see Africa as a continent of opportunities that requires youth with the right skill sets, networks, and desire to lead her into a prosperous state in our lifetime. This talk also propelled me to consider entrepreneurship (MBA) and finance (MSF), which led me to the Babson Graduate Masters Programs.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? A strategy course by Professor Jonathan Sims gave me a new mindset about finance and how I could develop a unique thesis to structure my fund differently from existing ones by understanding the ecosystem of entrepreneurship.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? In the next 5-10 years, I hope Jamani Corporate Group will be the leading think tank and networking and investment platform for emerging markets in Africa.