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The African Middle Class Re-examined

by Africa Club

Educational/Awareness Africa

Thu, 23 May 2019

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

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Africa is a billion-person market offering exciting and profitable opportunities, but investment in the region remains slow. Its rising middle-class is young, fast-growing and technology-savvy, but not much is known about consumption patterns. So who are Africa's middle class? What are their defining characteristics and do multinationals understand them?

To find out the answers to these questions and many more, join us for the presentation of recent research on the ‘middle class’ in Africa undertaken by both academics and businesses operating on the continent.
Dress Business Casual
Food Provided (Networking drinks in the Marquee from 19:00)

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Dougie Brew


Head of Government Relations, Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainable Business for Unilever Africa. Member of Africa and Global Communications Leadership Teams, leader of the team driving sustainable business, government affairs, media relations and employee engagement for 27,000 people. Also responsible for managing political risk, corporate reporting advocacy and partnerships, including for Africa Supply Chain and the Unilever Africa tea estates. Has worked extensively in South Asia and Africa. His early career was in engineering and environmental management with the EU with trade negotiation teams. He has also worked for the UK Government Foreign Office and Department for International Development.

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Max Bolt

Birmingham University

Maxim received his PhD in social anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2011. He had previously studied history and politics as an undergraduate at St Peter’s College, Oxford, and then social anthropology as a Masters student at LSE. Maxim took up a lectureship at Birmingham in 2012.Maxim’s PhD thesis was Runner-up for the 2010-12 Audrey Richards Prize, awarded biennially by the African Studies Association of the UK, for the best PhD thesis on Africa examined in the UK. His doctoral project was subsequently developed into a monograph, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press, and in 2016 by Wits University Press in a South African edition. Entitled Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: the roots of impermanence, the monograph won the 2016 British Sociological Association / BBC Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award. In 2014, Maxim won the Head of School's Award and the Head of College's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

From January 2016 until March 2019, Maxim was an ESRC Future Research Leaders award-holder. His project was called 'Entitlements, Disputes, and Provision for the Future: Making Wills and Negotiating Inheritance in South Africa’s Middle Class'.

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Jason Sumich

University of Essex

Jason is a political anthropologist who studied at University of California Santa Barbara, University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics. Before coming to the University of Essex, he worked at the London School of Economics, University of Fort Hare, University of Pretoria, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the German Institute of Global Area Studies (GIGA). His geographic focus is southern Africa, primarily Mozambique, where he has been conducting research since 2002 on issues of class formation and the relationships between privileged members of society and the state. This research has resulted in a number of journal articles and a monograph, 'The Middle Class in Mozambique: The State and the Politics of Transformation in Southern Africa', which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. His current research explores emerging forms of urban governance and control and I am the co-director of the project 'Enclaving: Patterns of Global Futures in Three African Cities' funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

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Claire Mercer

London School of Economics

Claire joined the Department of Geography and Environment in 2009, having previously held lectureships in Human Geography at the universities of Leicester (2001-2008) and Swansea (1998-2001). She holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Liverpool.

Working at the interface of Human Geography, African Studies and Development Studies, Claire's early research developed a geographical critique of the concept of civil society that confronted assumptions about the spatiality and makeability’ of African civil society. Drawing on ideas from postcolonial studies this work recast the discussion of civil society in Africa in terms that emphasized the diverse social and political work done by civil society actors such as NGOs and home associations.

Recent research has been concerned with the relationship between the African diaspora and the African continent. This research places Africa at the centre of questions about diaspora. Claire recently completed a four-year ESRC-funded research project, graded ‘outstanding’, which examined the development work undertaken in Africa by diaspora communities in Britain. This involved a study of four transnational home associations from Cameroon and Tanzania (with Ben Page, UCL; and Martin Evans, University of Chester). The book based on the project, Development and the African diaspora: place and the politics of home is published by Zed Books. is published by Zed Books.

Claire is currently working on new research on the middle classes, domestic architecture and suburban space in Tanzania.

Claire is a member of the International Advisory Board of Antipode, a member of the Advisory Board of Critical African Studies, and an Editorial Board Member of the Development Geography Section for Geography COMPASS.

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Daudi Lelijveld

CD Impact Fund

Daudi is the Director & Head of Impact Accelerator at CDC Group Plc. Daudi joined the Direct Equity Investments team in November 2014 where he started and built out a separate fund ‘Impact Accelerator’ that was concessional in nature specifically targeting larger sustainable investment opportunities that the market was not funding due to the perception of the risk reward being below market expectations – but if successful these projects would have deep and transformational developmental impact in the geography or supply chain. Previously, Daudi spent two years as VP Sustainability at Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate company.

While at Barry Callebaut Daudi put in place the foundations for the build-up of sustainable supply chains as well as buying and integrating three smaller cocoa bean origination companies in Tanzania, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. Prior to this Daudi spent 20 years as a business development manager for Cargill across a range of agricultural and industrial commodities across several continents. Before joining Cargill, Daudi held roles as a well-side geologist, a school teacher and manager of a transport company ‘Unitrans Malawi’ operating 60, 30 ton Mercedes rigs between Durban and Dar es Salaam. Daudi has degrees in both Geology and Biology.

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Geetha Tharmaratnam

LGT Impact

Geetha is Partner – Africa & Head of Impact at LGT Impact. She was formerly a founding partner of T5 Africa Capital Partners, a Private Equity Fund Manager investing in growing mid-cap businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is a private equity professional with 14+ years’ experience in Developing Markets PE, investing in Africa, impact investing and Global Insurance/ Reinsurance. As a principle at Aureos Capital, the preeminent SME PE firm, she focused on group strategy and sustainable investing, developing the first PE sustainability index. She worked in the Global Portfolio Management team and the Health Fund at the Abraaj Group. She holds a BSc (Finance) from the University of Bridgeport, an MBA and MSc in Management Research from Oxford University (Private Equity as an instrument of development in Africa). Ms Tharmaratnam is an Advisor to Capria Ventures, an accelerator for impact fund managers in Emerging Markets. She also sits on the Investment Committee of Aleyo Capital, which invests in growing businesses in Botswana.