Birth of an Africa Investor


Africa tends to capture the hearts of its guests.

It happened to me soon after stepping off an airplane into the chilly mountain air of Lesotho 14 years ago. My three-year sojourn as a volunteer in the country changed me into a certifiable Afrophile.

Upon my return stateside, I sought to remain as engaged with the continent as distance would allow. I found an Africa-focused job. I read Africa-focused books. I even listened to the BBC’s Focus on Africa over my battered shortwave radio.

Strangely enough, the thought of investing in Africa didn’t even occur to me until years later.

In my mind, the continent was a charity case – not an investment opportunity. I didn’t hesitate to send money to Africa for the purpose of buying mosquito nets, building schools, or granting no-interest loans, but the thought of investing in an African business with the expectation of a return seemed avaricious.

One day, I happened upon the Botswana Stock Exchange’s website. It fascinated me. Here, investors traded shares of banks, a wholesaler, a furniture retailer, and others. Many of these companies appeared to be generating huge profits in one of Africa’s most stable countries, yet the market priced them at little more than liquidation value. Something clicked in my thick skull. These businesses were poised to create many more jobs than any foreign aid organization, but a lack of capital constrained them from doing so.

So, I emailed a local broker, asking if and how a foreigner could purchase shares. He replied the next day. He assured me that I could indeed invest, and he walked me through the straightforward process of opening a trading account. Within weeks, I owned shares of Letshego, a bargain-priced micro-lender.

Further research revealed roughly a dozen more African stock exchanges. I soon invested in many of those, too. Each new market I explored revealed compelling stories. The investment process didn’t always go as smoothly as my Botswana experiment did, but, overall, the rewards justified the time and effort. I was hooked.

My goal with this blog is to help other small investors participate in Africa’s capital markets, and, in so doing, make a modest contribution to the region’s economic growth.

That’s my story. I’m eager to hear yours. What sparked your interest in African stock markets? What information do you need to start investing in the region? Share your thoughts here in the comments or shoot me a message via the contact form.

Disclosure: I own shares of Letshego.

Related Reading

How to Invest on the Botswana Stock Exchange

13 thoughts on “Birth of an Africa Investor”

  1. Hi Ryan,
    Your posts have been so helpful! I’ve been wanting to invest in African equities for a while but the process of finding information (financial statements, keeping track of company and stock market news, buying stocks, etc) seems daunting compared to buying US equities. Some of your posts will go a long way to addressing some of these concerns/questions!

    One thing I’m having difficulty with is finding websites/online resources with daily or periodic equity market and company updates for African equities (I realize that there are many bourses in Africa and each is unique but aggregated info must be available somewhere). One can sign up for daily e-mail alerts of market and company updates the US/UK/Europe on the financial times website. Where could I get a similar daily digest of market/company updates for Africa? I’m also wondering if you have any daily/periodic must read publications to stay on top of equity market and company updates in Africa. Are there any publication subscriptions you recommend for keeping posted on african equity markets/companies.

    This is a great website, thanks for putting this info out there.

    1. Hi BJ,

      Thanks for your kind words — and for providing a great idea for a future post!

      Daily news digests from African markets do exist, but those that I am familiar with are only distributed to institutional investors and analysts.

      I will get to work on a “must reads” post. In the meantime, I highly recommend Reuters and Bloomberg for news on African equity markets.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions, Ryan. I look forward to reading your future post on “must reads” resources/publications.

    1. Hi, you can also contact us, we have a database of annual reports for 21 African stock exchanges and all their listed companies from the date of establishment of the stock exchange. We also have a macroeconomic database on 30 African countries spanning a period of 20 years. You can contact us on with your request. Thanks

  3. Hi Ryan,

    Your blog is about the most excellent thing I’ve read this week.

    I’ve been completing investment cases for a number of countries (Liberia, Kenya, now Botswana) for my boss, and been quickly realising what an amazing opportunity lies in Africa, especially in my areas of interest in renewable energy and education. Great to see how you’ve come to it, and what you’re doing with it now.

    I’ll be following the blog, but should you be anywhere near Doha, Qatar drop me a line. Would love to meet for a coffee (and I know some good spots:) .


  4. I am interested in investing in Africa, but it is such a mine field. I noticed that you are sponsoring Sunderland FC. Would like to know more. Africa is a massive continent.


    1. Hi Balan,

      You’ve come to the right place!

      Try out these articles for starters:

      You might also want to submit your email address in the green box at the right-side of this page to be notified every time a new article is posted.

      Happy investing!

  5. Hi Ryan,

    First, I want to thank you for putting together such an excellent and interesting website. For the past couple of years, I have been telling anybody who will listen that Africa is a great place to invest (oddly, few seem to listen, maybe because I know very little about finance…). That is why I was so excited when I discovered this site (about 30 min ago)! I have lots to read, which is great. As I read your post on how and why you became an investor in Africa, I realized that we agree on many things. For example, like you, I think that the best, most sustainable way to improve the quality of life in African countries is through job creation by local companies. Short of starting a business in Africa (which would be super cool, if I ever get to do it), the next best thing is to invest in African companies, as you are doing. Thanks to your posts, I might finally find a way to do the same. Here are a few suggestions for your future writings if you are ever short on ideas: investment opportunities in tourism, biopharmaceutical/health industry and anything about Mozambique, which seems to be doing very well in recent years.

    Keep up the good work!

    Rui Galvao

    1. Welcome and thanks, Rui! It’s great to have you here, and I’m always on the lookout for new story ideas. Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments if you’ve got questions on anything you read.

      With best wishes,

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