Much of Africa, you may be surprised to learn, is growing faster than the US. The economies of Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, Rwanda and Tanzania all grew by at least 4% last year. (US GDP growth was 1.7 percent.) But while modernization is lifting millions of Africans out of poverty, unchecked growth — of farms, ranches, mining and infrastructure — threatens Africa’s unsurpassed wildlife and wild places.
Can commerce and conservation coexist in Africa? A nonprofit called the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has set out to prove that they can do better than co-exist: It is going into business for itself to demonstrate that thriving commercial enterprises, if run right, can help protect wildlife and their habitat.
Last year–its 50th anniversary year–the foundation created an investment company called African Wildlife Capital to raise money from investors in the US to support conservation-friendly businesses in Africa. African Wildlife Capital has raised about $3 million, all of it through its own board, and so far it has invested in three projects–an avocado farm in Tanzania, a livestock operation in Kenya and a tourism lodge in Namibia. [click to continue…]