Thursday, July 28, 2016

Internship in South Africa: Awe and inspiration in the "Rainbow Nation"

It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere and most people are thinking about their holidays. This is not the case for SAIS students who spend their summer working internships around the world.

As we mentioned in previous posts, these internships are a great way for students to learn more about their future careers.

In the last posts, students working internships in Brazil and Peru wrote about their experiences and here is a video of last year's students talking about their summer internship plans.

Today, Chris Jackson, a current student in the MA program focusing on Energy, Resources and Environment, tells us about his experience in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Like half of the students who graduate from SAIS each year, Chris spent his first year at SAIS Europe in Bologna and is going to Washington, DC for his second year.

Cape Town is perhaps the most awe inspiring place one can imagine.

Firstly it is a visual paradise and a feast for the senses. Whether its climbing the world famous table mountain, sipping Merlot in Constantia's vineyards, seeing Zebra, Ostriches, Baboons and Springbok on the side of the road to work or the fantastic food, the place never ceases to awe and inspire.

Writing on the sand in Cape Town
Cities, like all communities, are defined by their people as much as their place and South Africa is no exception. Nelson Mandela once said that South Africa is the "Rainbow Nation", reflecting people from all over the world. His words were not merely hyperbole. The country is a veritable smorgasbord of nationalities, ethnicity, ages and faiths.

This summer I have been working for Clifftop Colony Capital Partners, a South African Corporate Finance firm, which specializes in securing financing for African start-ups, entrepreneurs and African tech funds.

My role involved evaluating business plans and proposals for new prospective clients; constructing corporate marketing material to promote clients to international investors; researching African and global tech industry trends; building profiles on the requirements, preferences and financing available from international investors; and lastly, corporate due diligence on Clifftop’s current and potential clients.

Africa is considered to be the home of the world’s most frontier equity and debt investments and Clifftop position themselves as a bridge between international investors in the US, UK and Europe, and entrepreneurs across the African continent, by offering experience with local challenges and an extensive network of strategic relationships to both parties.

Stunning views

During my time here I had the pleasure of listening to Moeletsi Mbeki, Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs and leading economist, who spoke eloquently on South Africa's challenges and I have had the pleasure of meeting over a dozen small businesses, who have helped me understand the opportunities of the South African economy.

South Africa is the finance capital of Africa. It is a bridge to the West, through London, a bridge to the East, through Malaysia and India, and a central force in driving innovation throughout Africa. For anyone trying to understand how business on the African continent works, the importance of good governance on economic growth and poverty alleviation or even for those who simply have a hunger to see untouched beauty in the world, it is hard to beat South Africa.

Chris Jackson
SAIS Europe 2016

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