News Stories · Leadership

Doing business in Africa: When uncertainty is the norm

Sibongile Manganyi-Rath, IMD EMBA, shares her business journey, her experiences and her story on doing business in Africa
June 2019
 - IMD Business School

Sibongile Manganyi-Rath is an IMD Executive MBA alumna and award-winning entrepreneur from South Africa who has been named Africa’s most influential woman in business by CEO magazine.

She was the third Keynote speaker at IMD’s Orchestrating Winning Performance.

A seasoned business leader from the African continent takes us through her learnings on how multi-national companies need to be agile when working in Africa.

At the age of 26, she left her corporate job and established Indigo Kulani Group (IKG), an infrastructure and real estate development company. She continues to lead the business into new areas of growth and expansion within the built environment industry.

Sibongile takes us through her very personal and touching journey of her realities of doing business in Africa today across opportunities and barriers – and how the lines between these two are often blurred and can often be the same thing. “If you pursue what you want then sometimes luck starts to follow your path,” she learned.

She recounts a tale of herself as a teenager when she fought tooth and nail to get admitted to an architecture school with no experience or money, even for a bus ticket to Cape Town. At the time, the teacher said: “I know you don’t have the necessary skills, but I saw the determination in your eyes, and knew at that moment you would achieve anything you set your mind to”.

By the end of the year she was the best in class and became a tutor.

At 26 she launched the start-up IKG in 2006 that focuses on affordable housing, education and healthcare. Any by 2018, over 700 schools were built and over 13 hospitals despite the South African economy crash the same year, but she survived. “Africa works despite the chaos. It has its own order.”

She explains how understanding the African eco–system was vital to success. The stakeholders are vastly spread from social, human, political as well as financial. All of these feed off each other and need to be managed within a country of social and political unrest. Her force lies in her resilience and loyalty as she concludes: “When you are indigenous to the market, you cannot just exit”.

Watch the full event.