“Talent is very equally distributed, but opportunities are not”, observed Fatoumata Bâ, founder and CEO of social startup studio Janngo. In this lively discussion, moderated by Martin Weiss, Bâ joined Nobel Prize laureate Muhammed Yunus and Mastercard executive Peter Bakenecker to explore how companies and entrepreneurs can contribute to society in a positive way.
Bâ spoke about the hurdles African entrepreneurs face, particularly access to funding, and mentioned that in 2019, African entrepreneurs had 90 percent less funding than American counterparts. On the challenges of scaling for-profit social businesses, she said, “In the African context, there’s a strong scarcity of trust, hence of capital. We need to demonstrate that we’re able to attract development players, of course, but also private sector investors. And to attract them, we committed to the deliver the returns of traditional businesses, that being said, all the ventures we’re funding today are solving a social problem.”
Muhammad Yunus criticized the asymmetries of the current financial system, which is known to predominantly lend money to people who already have access to money. “Credit is a universal human right,” he said, “Nobody should be excluded from the financial system… because there is nothing wrong with people, there is something wrong with our institutions.”