Singapore's new Centre for African Studies to strengthen ties
Singapore is poised to strengthen its ties with Africa, as a new agreement paves the way for executives and companies to gain deeper insights and exposure to the continent.
The arrangement will also advance thought leadership and inter-disciplinary research benefiting the economies of both territories.
The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) announced today a new partnership to establish the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies. The Centre is the first of its kind in South-East Asia.
To be hosted at NTU’s Nanyang Business School, the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies will provide in-depth insights on the African markets through research, workshops and programmes.
It aims to build knowledge on business, politics and social economics to strengthen the capabilities of policy makers and businesses for their engagement with Africa.
In the longer-term, the Centre will also foster closer relations and understanding between Africa and South-East Asia.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed today at the Africa Asia Oil and Gas Summit (AAOGS) 2013 at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, between SBF’s Chief Executive Officer, Ho Meng Kit, and NTU’s Shaw Chair Professor and Dean of Nanyang Business School (NBS), Professor Ravi Kumar.
The signing was witnessed by Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, Tony Chew, Chairman, SBF, and Professor Gillian Yeo, Associate Dean of NBS, and some 270 government officials and oil and gas players from Africa and Asia.
NBS Dean Professor Ravi Kumar said: “Africa is the world’s last major frontier for business. The continent stands at the cusp of joining the rest of the world in reaping the fruits of economic and social development, with rapidly growing markets that offer tremendous opportunities to businesses.
“Singapore companies are awakening to the immense growth potential of Africa. The NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies will be vital to helping them know the lay of this rich and fertile land, by providing actionable, timely and comprehensive insights, and nurturing leaders with first-hand exposure to the continent.”
The Centre will be launched by June next year.
Africa is the fastest growing region outside Asia today, with an average of five percent GDP growth per annum in the past decade.
About one-third of its 54 nations have seen yearly gains in GDP of more than six percent. The continent is fast becoming an attractive FDI destination, with investments inflows to sub-Saharan Africa rising from US$29.5 billion in 2010 to US$36.9 billion in 2011.
Singapore’s total trade with the continent is on the rise, from S$7.7 billion in 2009 to S$13.2 billion in 2012.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.