Malik Fal — Advocacy for Small-Medium Enterprises
Managing Director for Africa at Omidyar Network, South Africa
Economic transformation in the long-term ... comes from locally run, locally owned businesses. And that’s what’s been missing from the development discussion in Africa.
Video Player ↓
Biography for Malik Fal
Based in Johannesburg, Malik is the managing director of Omidyar Network Africa. With more than 15 years of experience in social entrepreneurship, business, and development, primarily in the African context, Malik brings a wealth of expertise to his role leading Omidyar Network’s investment strategy and operations in Africa.
Malik joined Omidyar Network in early 2012, prior to which he served as managing director of Endeavor South Africa. From 2006 to 2009, Malik was the business director of Microsoft Africa, a role in which he led business planning, strategy, and marketing throughout the continent. Before Microsoft, Malik oversaw the Africa practice of the consultancy firm OTF Group (formerly part of The Monitor Group). He also spent six years at Pepsi-Cola International, managing operations across southern Africa, and several years as a consultant for The Monitor Group. Malik led multiple successful consulting engagements, including initiatives with the World Bank, USAID, the Bermuda tourism industry, and the presidency of Rwanda. His diverse career has given him a deep understanding of business strategy in emerging markets and the distinct roles of government, private sector institutions, and individuals in the pursuit of sustainable development.
Malik received an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and taught executive courses in Africa for Harvard Business School as part of Professor Debora Spar’s “Making Markets Work” initiative. He co-authored the book, In the River They Swim – Essays from Around the World on Enterprise-based Solutions to Poverty(Templeton Press, 2009).
[Bio courtesy of the Omidyar Network website]
Malik Fal on Aid vs. Economic Transformation
Aid can only go so far. Aid can only provide relief, but it doesn’t provide economic transformation. Economic transformation in the long-term, where people learn skills, where they earn high and rising standards of wages and of living, comes from locally run, locally owned businesses. And that’s what’s been missing from the development discussion in Africa.
Malik Fal on the Impact of Small and Medium Enterprises
They provide employment to the poor on a long-term basis; they are part of the communities that the poor live in. When communities receive trucks of United Nation aid—food programs—it only goes so far for so long. It’s when you have a local business that’s thriving, that’s employing people, that’s enabling employees to send their kids to school, to change their habitat, to get the health benefits and so on: this is what really transforms communities.
Malik Fal on Aid
Aid … has kept Africa behind, or Africans behind in terms of getting the confidence they need, the experience they need to take a full part in the global economy, create businesses that compete globally and succeed globally, because it has distorted markets in Africa. So the sooner Africa can graduate from its dependence on aid, the better.
Malik Fal on the Lack of Focus on SME’s
It is a great source of frustration for me when I see the unwillingness of the donor community and other players in development to support SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises]. Why? Because small and medium-sized enterprises are a critical part in the development process.