By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
YES, its official. Its finally happening. Its history in the making.
After much planning in these past months, Invest in Africa and Sunderland Association Football Club announced a first for the Premier League at the club’s Stadium of Light on Monday morning.
A statement reported IIA as the club’s principal partner and shirt sponsor for the 2012/13 season. The Invest in Africa brand will be displayed on the team’s kit for a minimum of two seasons and seen around the globe to the Premier League’s audience of 4.7bn viewers.
Invest in Africa is a not-for-profit business initiative that will promote Africa as a leading investment destination and actively challenge misconceptions about investing on the continent. Invest in Africa’s mission is to show that Africa is open for business, and that its further development is dependent on private-sector investment and partnerships with local businesses. The partnership with Sunderland AFC provides a high profile platform for the brand to take Invest in Africa’s message to a worldwide audience, the first time a not-for-profit initiative of this nature has appeared on a Premier League shirt.
IIA is also building a partnership of leading companies working in Africa to help inspire more investors to do business in Africa. IIA welcomes interest from like minded potential founding partners and companies interested in joining this initiative. Africa’s largest independent oil company, Tullow Oil plc (‘Tullow’), is proud to be the initial Founding Partner of Invest in Africa.
Speaking at the Stadium of Light, Chief Executive of Tullow Aidan Heavey said: “At Tullow Oil we’ve known for years that Africa is a thriving and great place to do business. But potential foreign investors are still missing out because of outdated perceptions of what it’s like to work in Africa.
“Invest in Africa wants to bridge this gap by challenging misconceptions, showing that Africa is open for business and helping more investors into Africa in partnership with local businesses.”
“Ultimately this will make Africa a more stable and attractive place to work, which is in everyone’s interests. Which is why we’re delighted to be partnering with Sunderland AFC who share Invest in Africa’s ambitions and desire to reach a global audience.”
Ellis Short, Chairman Sunderland AFC said: “We are very proud to have augmented our relationship with Invest in Africa through this wonderful agreement.
“It is a partnership which sets a new benchmark for the club commercially but what stands out is while doing so, it truly gives something back to both our own region and to a continent which has become a firm part of our club’s success story over recent seasons.”
“Extending our relationship will enable us to put the club’s knowledge and experience – allied with its immense global reach as part of the Premier League – fully into practice. It fits perfectly with our own aims as we continue showcasing Sunderland AFC to a global audience which simply loves football.”
Sunderland AFC chief executive Margaret Byrne commented: “Africa has a wonderful passion for the game, something which is mirrored here in our own North East region.
Both places are renowned for examples of how football can engage people and organisations to the extent where it changes lives.”
“Sunderland AFC has established a reputation as a club which champions that idea. We take immense pride in using the power and pull of football responsibly to ensure it is driven towards strengthening our community and improving people’s lives.”
“The club’s Foundation of Light has shown the benefits of encouraging new business partnerships and investment in the North East. With the Invest in Africa initiative, the club will continue to deliver the same positive impact to the local business community as well as communities across Africa.”
William Pollen, Director of Invest in Africa reiterates more on the project’s purpose: “Invest in Africa is a business initiative that aims to promote Africa as a leading investment destination and to challenge perceptions about investing on the continent. Invest in Africa’s mission is to show that Africa is open for business,
and that its future prosperity is dependent on private-sector investment rather than aid.”
“With the initial Founding Partner Tullow Oil plc, Invest in Africa will build a coalition of founding partners that in many instances have already successfully invested in Africa, creating jobs, transferring knowledge and skills and bringing new products to African consumers so helping deliver the sustainable growth that’s a priority for African countries. Invest in Africa will provide a leading platform for businesses to work in partnership with key stakeholders to demonstrate their commitment to driving sustainable economic growth across the continent.”