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Virginia State University Alumnus Owned Investment Firm Makes First Investment In Africa

Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable. – William Pollard

Over the past few years, Founder & CIO, William A. Foster, IV of 15 & 40, a multi-asset investment firm, had been looking to extend its portfolio beyond the shores of the United States. In particular, the firm has become keen on making their first investment in Africa. Through a previous professional relationship that opportunity would come to pass. Mr. Foster was previously head of acquisitions and Regan Mutumbo was previously head of operations at a private real estate investment firm based in Atlanta, GA. It was Mr. Mutumbo’s leadership that actually brought Mr. Foster into the real estate investment firm’s fold and they formed a fast professional relationship that would be the foundation of the later investment. The investment was a classic case of the importance of building a strong professional network and the fruit of opportunities it can bear years later.

15 & 40 invested a ten percent stake in Ciya, a ride sharing app company located in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city of Kinshasa. It is the firm’s first investment on the continent, but according to Mr. Foster this is just the beginning. “Our plan is to have a major capital footprint across the Diaspora buoyed with strategic concentration in Africa.” More than just capital though, Mr. Mutumbo has met with Mr. Foster in monthly brainstorming sessions to help with the strategy and direction of Ciya. Showcasing the circulation of intellectual capital on a Diasporic scale. The company is named for Mr. Mutumbo’s mother and is his way to honor her legacy. He also is adamant about being part of the foundation that spurs economic development for the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mr. Foster’s Pan-African investment views make it an ideal match for both.

The World Book’s Economic Situation on the Democratic Republic of Congo:

“Economic growth picked up to 8.6% in 2022, keeping the strong momentum from 2021 (6.2%). Mining sector investment and exports remain the key drivers of growth, owing to capacity expansion and recovery in global demand. However, growth in non-mining sectors (particularly services) was modest, slowing down to 3.0% in 2022, from 4.5% in 2021. Stronger export earnings could not offset higher food and fuel bills, and lead to a wider current account deficit estimated at 2.9% of GDP in 2022 (from -1.0% in 2021). Nevertheless, foreign direct investments (FDI) and external financing contributed to build up reserves, reaching 7.9 weeks of imports in 2022, from 5.4 weeks a year earlier, and limiting excessive exchange rate fluctuations. Higher global energy and food prices due to the ongoing war in Ukraine exerted upward pressures on domestic inflation, lifting the average inflation rate from 9.1% in 2021 to 9.2% in 2022.

The fiscal deficit deteriorated to 2.7% in 2022 (from 0.8% in 2021) as improved revenue mobilization could not fully offset higher capital and current spending. Domestic revenues peaked at 15.6% of GDP in 2022, owing to favorable commodity prices and digitalization of the revenue collection process, while expenditures (19.7% of GDP) increased due to exceptional security spending and arrears repayments, in addition to wage adjustments and fuel subsidies. The medium-term outlook for DRC is favorable with growth estimated at 7.5% by 2025. However, DRC’s economy remains vulnerable to commodity price swings and growth performance of major trading partners which might be disturbed by geopolitical conflicts. The continued economic consequences of the war in Ukraine, through rising global food costs and higher oil prices, could exert stronger pressure on fiscal deficit, inflation, and household consumption thus exacerbating poverty and inequality.

Given persistent conflicts in the East, DRC’s immediate challenge is to strengthen security and maintain political and macroeconomic stability while stepping up ongoing reforms to ensure sustainable growth.”

It speaks to a broader opportunity of African America’s ability to leverage American capital and invest mightily alongside their African brethren and create a transcontinental partnerships that for the first time would put a healthy relationship between capital and investment on both sides of the Atlantic. Instead of hostile lending and investment from European Americans, Europeans, and Asians that has been the traditional order of business for African investment, this lays the ground work for a mutually beneficial relationships that should see both sides prosper. “We are here to build and connect institutions of the African Diaspora. For my firm it really is that simple.”, said Mr. Foster. He hopes that HBCUs in particular along with their endowments, foundations, and alumni associations can leverage their collective capital that would allow them to make major investments throughout Africa.

Visit Ciya by clicking here.