The Africa List Moves To Build Leaders Online In Response To COVID-19

In person events were a hallmark of The Africa List. Now the organization is hustling to bring their … [+] benefits online.

The Africa List

“How people read their leader when you come into the office. How you say good morning. It’s something I didn’t think about before. Now, I make sure when I come in that a positive spirit is within me and I project it out. It makes such a big difference.”

Berhane Demissie, the Co-founder and Managing Partner at the Ethiopian Private Equity firm Cepheus Capital, said that this leadership lesson was one of the key takeaways from a training event she attended through The Africa List. Now around the world, leaders are working from home, trying to figure out how to project a positive spirit to their employees. At the same time, organizations like The Africa List wonder how they can continue to build a meaningful communities remotely.

The Africa List (TAL) is a selective community of African CEOs. They focus on creating strong leaders and developing connections between them. A lot of this activity happens in-person. “A core part of The Africa List’s mission is to provide the continent’s emerging business leaders with a trusted peer network which meets regularly to share insights and unlock opportunities. Our in-country events are, and always will be, very important for us,” said Nieros Oyegun, the Head of Network at TAL.

Unfortunately, the world is coping with the new reality of social distancing and Africa is no exception. Nigeria has closed schools. Ghana has closed borders. South Africa has implemented a nation-wide lockdown. And across the continent, gatherings have been banned. This obviously has had an effect on organizations like TAL. “Our primary focus has been on hosting in-person events, so the crisis has had a major impact on us. But we are embracing the challenge. We are looking at ways to enhance engagement with our members outside of our regular in-country networking events, learning & development workshops and masterclasses,” said Oyegun.

In their efforts to bring activities online, TAL is relaunching an app for their members to support community connections, hosting a webinar with Imperial College London’s Social Impact Club, and running six online learning and development workshops.

The importance of leadership development programs has become apparent during this crisis. TAL has helped prepare African leaders in the public and private sectors to act swiftly in the face of the pandemic. In 2017, TAL ran a masterclass for their members led by the former CEO of Zimbabwe’s Delta Corporation, “which addressed strategies for leading an organization through periods of peak volatility and uncertainty,” shared Oyegun. If any leader is prepared to manage their business through uncertainty, it’s a leader that has planned for the unplanned.

While the COVID-19 pandemic must certainly be contained eventually, disruptions to life as usual are becoming the status quo. This volatility will not get in the way of developing African business leaders. Online, in-person, or both, Oyegun affirms “we will achieve this through whatever means are available to us.”

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