Africa.com re-launches, headed by Teresa Clarke – Changing the way the world views Africa
March 1, 2010
By J. Skyler Fernandes & Edward Chidothe | SACCA
What is Africa.com? It is all things African, covering all 53 countries on the continent and taking a holistic approach to the world’s understanding of Africa. Africa.com’s mission is ambitious, yet simply put, to change the way the world sees Africa.
Often times the world’s view of Africa is quite unsophisticated, and goes as far as referencing Africa as a country rather than continent. As the key web domain name for the continent, Africa.com is targeted towards a wide audience – from those learning about Africa for the first time to experts on African culture, politics and business. Africa.com is set to be a valuable resource for the global community, making it easy to see Africa as a whole, greater than the sum of its parts, and to quickly dive down into each country’s relevant topics. With a click of the mouse, users can access country facts, maps, news, tourism info, and other forms of media all in one place.
Africa.com has launched Africa’s Top 20 Music Videos, providing visitors exposure to the best African music and a chance to vote every week for their favorite videos. Additionally, the site features hundreds of specially curated videos capturing the look and feel of each country. Designed in collaboration with the award-winning company, Brightcove Inc., Africa.com offers the same flexible, multi-language, on-line video platform used by The New York Times.
For the investor and those interested in business, Africa.com provides daily quotes on-line from the 14 African stock exchanges, a comprehensive listing of capital markets, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions across the continent of Africa. This content is offered in collaboration with LiquidAfrica, an investment banking boutique with offices in London and Johannesburg. Users will also have access to yearly country reports on political rights and civil liberties prepared by internationally recognized Freedom House as well as the rankings on sustainable economic opportunities assessed by the MoIbrahim Foundation.
For business and leisure travelers, Lonely Planet prepares special content for Africa.com, creating the most comprehensive African travel guide available online. Africa.com is also a trusted source of information about volunteer opportunities as well as arts and culture throughout the continent.
Who is behind this undertaking? Teresa Clarke. She is one of those individuals whose history highlights a track record of creating her own destiny. There is a beautiful Bantu saying that “Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.” Teresa has done exactly that, and it has led her to focusing her efforts now on Africa.com. She was raised in Los Angeles, USA, earned her JD and MBA from Harvard University, and then travelled to New York to join the real-estate group at Goldman, Sachs & Company. As a true master of her own destiny, Teresa rose to become a managing director at the prestigious firm and one of the few senior African-American investment bankers on Wall Street.
Africa.com is showcasing the continent in a dynamic form, enriching and re-shaping the world’s view of Africa, extending even to the site’s logo and branding. At first glance, Africa.com ’s logo appears to be an abstract graphic, but when one looks at the small mark in the top right corner, a face of a lion is quickly revealed, symbolizing that there is more to Africa than meets the eye. Similarly, there is more than meets the eye with Teresa’s life story, just as there are more stories to tell about Africa.
In between her years at Goldman Sachs, Teresa moved to South Africa in the mid-1990s to serve as managing director of Abt Associates South Africa, a public-policy consulting firm. While in South Africa, Teresa taught corporate finance in the MBA program at Wits Business School and founded the Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP) to provide academically talented but economically disadvantaged South African students with scholarships and support to attend private schools. More than 600 students have received scholarships which are valued at more than $10 million. She has been recognized by the South African government for her work with SSP. In 2008, she received the Freedom Day Award from the South African Consulate.
Teresa’s life has been one of mergers, acquisitions and high finance. It would be easy for Teresa to rest on these laurels, but instead she has let her heart lead her and now has decided to devote her full time and energies into the high risk world of the dot.coms by re-launching Africa.com , the internet portal she has owned for almost a decade. Her passion for the motherland was sparked by a maiden visit to South Africa 17 years ago. Apartheid had seen its last chapter and a new era of African solidarity was dawning. She found a continent filled with warm, loving and forgiving white and black people who embraced her completely.
Armed with her knowledge of how to assess risk, the ability to evaluate economic opportunities and a passion for all things African, Teresa saw her next life journey would take her into the untapped investment destination that is Africa. As Teresa has said, “Most people think of Africa as a continent stricken with poverty, disease and wars or as a land of giraffes, lions and elephants. Yes, tragedies exist on the continent. Yes, tourism is a vitally important industry. But Africa is so much more.” She is a proponent of myth busters and Africa is exactly that when it comes to innovation, opportunities, as well as economic and social growth.
Teresa appreciates the economic engine that currently is Africa and its potential for more. In 2007 and 2008, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda had GDP growth on a par with China and India. According to newly revised International Monetary Fund estimates, Africa will grow by 4.8 percent in 2010 and 2011, the highest rate of growth outside Asia and higher than the economies of Brazil, Russia, Mexico and Eastern Europe.
The world is turning its attention to this continent. In June, the FIFA World Cup will focus the attention of all soccer fans on South Africa, at the same time business and media thought leaders will gather there. Teresa felt that this was a perfect time for Africa.com to help the world know and understand the African continent as well as the amazing people who live and work there.
Africa.com ’s objective is to position itself as the one stop shop for relevant, insightful and timely information on all 53 countries on the continent. By leveraging strong partnerships with organizations, Africa.com has a solid pipeline of content and media to distribute. The company is based out of New York City, with operations run by 10 employees who are experts in online business. Africa.com currently sources content from colleagues in South Africa, Lagos and Nairobi. Staying true to the spirit of innovation, Africa.com has developed its own proprietary technology that allows it to reach designers and artists from all corners of the world.
To learn more please go to: www.africa.com.