Capital Markets in the Making: ‘The Start of a Lifelong Partnership’
Last Friday, September 23, more than 100 leaders in the financial industry, philanthropy, the U.S. government, academia, and nonprofits joined our inaugural class of IFC-Milken Institute fellows at a lunch in Washington, D.C.
As the fellows complete the first month of the IFC-Milken Institute Capital Markets Program, this was an exciting opportunity for them to exchange views with the program’s founders: Jingdong Hua, vice president and treasurer of the IFC; and Mike Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute. The fellows also heard from Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and from President Steven Knapp of The George Washington University, which hosts the program in its School of Business. In closing, Milken engaged four IFC-MI fellows—from the Ministry of Finance of Malawi, the Capital Markets Authorities of Angola and Kenya, and the Bank of Mozambique—during lively and inspiring panels where they shared their ambitions and hopes for their countries’ development.
I could describe at length how uplifting and thought-provoking this event was for all of us. But the fellows are much better placed to do that themselves. These midcareer professionals represent financial and regulatory institutions across 12 economies in Africa and Asia. Please find below a few of their reactions, and read more about the event in Monday’s issue of GWToday.
Capital-market development does not take place in a vacuum. The fellows were exposed to a bigger-picture view of the investor networks and economic and social policies involved.
“I was surprised by the amount of information to which I was exposed in just three hours. The interaction with Mike Milken, Jingdong Hua, Steven Knapp and all the participants was a great opportunity to network and learn. In those three hours my sole focus on capital markets shifted to a broader perspective that encompasses wider aspects of life and prosperity, and of our continent’s future, which starts now.” (Eden, Mozambique)
“The fellows did a great job in bringing out the realities we each face in our countries. And in particular the speakers’ depth of knowledge, warmth and appeal to us to think big about how we can solve African and global challenges, left a great impression on me.” (Chris, Kenya)
“I was impressed by the guests’ deep knowledge of Africa, and the shared understanding that the key to develop the continent lies in the quality of its human resources and not in its oil or minerals. We reached a collective conclusion that we must invest in the current generation to shape a better future.” (Walter, Angola)
After lunch, the fellows spent an additional half-hour in a relaxed and insightful conversation with Mike Milken.
“I was struck by the remark that ‘Mike Milken is to finance what Michael Jordan is to basketball.’ This quote perfectly wraps up my impression of Mike and the vast wealth of knowledge he shared with us.” (Madalitso, Malawi)
“I most enjoyed the conversation with Mzee Mike [Mzee is a Swahili word meaning a ‘respected and wise elder’]. I felt like a small child receiving very valuable life advice from his grandfather! I have already learned a lot from him.” (David, Rwanda)
“Mike Milken was the star of the day for me. His memory of history and facts is amazing, and he knows how to use them in perspective. His outlook—how he understands and perceives the unforeseeable future of the world—gave me a lot to think about when I go back home.” (Abenet, Ethiopia)
“What a great opportunity to meet the brains behind the IFC-Milken Institute Capital Markets Program. I was amazed by Mike Milken’s passion and commitment towards capital-market development, especially in Africa. In his own words to us, ‘This is the start of a lifelong partnership.’ ” (Stephen, Uganda)
A clear call to action was made, to our partners engaged in the program and to the fellows who are uniquely placed to drive change when they return home.
“Thanks to discussions with us, the audience got a good gist of the realities surrounding the African continent, from the standpoint of the fellows. The enthusiasm and determination to spearhead improvement was reassuring, as great things can still happen for Africa.” (Davis, Seychelles)
“Friday made an impact on me on a greater note.... I felt I had a lot of work to do back home. I realized that capital market development doesn't happen in isolation of economic policies. And we really have to get started to make an impact, without waiting for someone else to do it for us.” (Immaculate, Uganda)
“The speakers’ remarks drove home that Africa is the 21st century’s next frontier, as half of the global population will be Africans by the end of this century. The implementation of vibrant capital markets is key to the development of our economies. Alleviating poverty, and promoting education to all children—especially girls—will support long-run growth. Cross-border economic cooperation will lower risks of future wars. Taking all of this together, the IFC-Milken Institute fellows and alumni will be agents of change for a better Africa.” (Michel-Edouard, Democratic Republic of the Congo)
I’d like to thank the partners and supporters who participated in Friday’s lunch and all those who are working with us in this inaugural year of the Capital Markets Program. There are many opportunities for engagement, from participating in our IFC-MI Speaker Series to supporting fellows’ tuition or hosting interns in U.S.-based financial institutions next spring. Meanwhile, applications for next year’s class (which will span more of Latin America and Asia in addition to Africa) open in November. You can also follow what the fellows are up to in our monthly newsletter. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and get involved!