The ways in which the heads of large companies work to influence change outside of their corporate responsibilities has become a topic of much interest over recent years. This is partly due to the manner in which the global economy has become increasingly intertwined and the extent to which leaders of industry can have a real effect on the world around them. In order to see just how pronounced this effect can be, we took a look at the case of Isabel dos Santos, the entrepreneur behind the Angolan telecommunication company, UNITEL. A look at the series of community-minded initiatives she has engaged in can be informative for anyone seeking to better understand how business can have a lasting impact across the globe.
One way in which Isabel dos Santos has been able to spread her belief of the importance of development is through the various speaking engagements to which she has been invited. These engagements often take place at university settings where she’ll not only emphasize the power of outside organizations to aid struggling economies, but also the importance of entrepreneurs within those economies. Speaking from her own experience, she knows firsthand the effect an innovative business idea can have on the greater world. As she contends when discussing the subject, the more that can be done to encourage new business development and grassroots entrepreneurial efforts, the more successful overall development efforts will become.
One of the keys to the above goals, according to the businesswoman, is the implementation of high-level technology in areas where it is lacking. This is especially true when speaking about internet access. Since the internet is often used to bring the international community together and to provide opportunities that are independent of location, it stands to reason that internet access can be a huge step forward for areas of the world struggling to find economic stability. Investments in infrastructure, along with ensuring a high degree of technological competency, can have a profound and lasting effect on the lives of some of the world’s most impoverished communities.
Promotion of tech
The above focus on technological investment has been especially apparent in the efforts undertaken by the entrepreneur’s telecommunication company. As the largest such company in its home country of Angola, UNITEL has worked extensively to bring communication technology to even the nation’s most remote areas. Those efforts haven’t been limited to mere cellular technologies, however, and the company is now working towards providing top quality internet to as many residents as possible. To this end, the company has already laid 12,500 km of high-speed cabling to help provide access to information, world economies, and more.
This focus on technology was showcased recently when the businesswoman spoke on the issue before the European Parliament. At that time she emphasized the need for African technological infrastructures to catch up with those in many of the world’s leading economies. Her comments on the issue have shown just how strongly she believes in this next technological stage of development. “After the mobile revolution, the next revolution in Africa will be digital,” said the entrepreneur. “Soon, there will be more sales and transactions through e-commerce than through traditional stores, and for the first time many Africans will have a bank account and it will be thanks to digital banking.”
Focus on education
Of course, the implementation of technology goes hand in hand with the ability to put it to good use. In order to ensure that latter goal, it’s important to also invest in education so that as technological capacity increases, so too does the ability to understand its many features. To this end, Isabel dos Santos has become known for numerous initiatives to assist in the education of those in underserved communities. A recent example of this is a partnership between UNITEL and Huawei through that company’s “Seeds for the Future” program.
The scholarship, which is aimed at empowering top academic performers in information and communication technologies, will be awarded to nine applicants who embody the level of intellectual curiosity that many hope will become more widespread. Recipients will participate in a cultural immersion program in Beijing where they will practice Mandarin and become familiar with the type of work being carried out in the information and communications industry. The program focuses on students in technical fields such as electrical engineering, computer science, and telecommunications engineering.
The way in which the above program helps to empower students through time abroad is reflective of the entrepreneur’s own educational experiences. Much of her schooling took place in the UK, where she completed her primary and secondary education in Kent, England. After that experience, she went on to attend King’s College, where she studied electrical engineering. That area of focus not only helped prepare her for her current career, but it also impressed on her the potential benefits of an educational background focused on technology.
Beyond her time at UNITEL, the long-time businesswoman has used her background to engage in a number of entrepreneurial pursuits. To that end, she has founded a number of companies in numerous different areas of the economy, such as construction, finance, and hospitality. Those ventures, many of which are ongoing, have helped to provide her with a birds-eye view of what goes into successfully founding and operating a large company. They have also helped inform the belief in the power of entrepreneurs for which she has long been known on the international stage.
While it can be tempting to think that those in the business world spend all of their time focused on personal ventures, it is clear that in the modern era this is simply not the case. With the advent of internet-based technologies business professionals are increasingly able to influence decisions around the world that can have lasting effects on communities of all sizes. Looking to the example set by Isabel dos Santos, we’re able to see how a directed effort in this area can be incredibly effective. Her work can provide an informative case study for anyone interested in the ways in which business professionals can have a strong impact on the world at large.
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