There are few Angolan entrepreneurs who are more widely recognized in the business world than Isabel dos Santos. As the former billionaire head of Unitel, Angola’s largest telecommunications company, and Sonongol, an oil company, she has proven her business acumen in traditionally male-dominated markets. However while her success has made a significant impact in the African economy, the media has not been forthcoming following the political climate that surrounds her business ventures.
“Nas crises, se as empresas são impactadas negativamente, isto tem um impacto directo na vida do cidadão, nas pessoas. São elas que perdem os empregos, e cresce o desemprego. E isto seria um desastre! Devemos proteger e apoiar o sector privado.” President Putin #SPIEF2019
— Isabel Dos Santos (@isabelaangola) June 7, 2019
Since the new Angolan president has sought to remove any politically entangled financial ties connected to the previous administration, Isabel dos Santos, has had to prove herself against the current by stepping down from her companies. While it was a necessary action founded upon preservation of her companies’ image, it has forced to reclaim her own namesake in the public eye.
A name that she has spent years building with trust and integrity. This is even more compounded because she is a female at the forefront of economic influence. African business hasn’t traditionally given much room to powerful women, and that is concerning. As infrastructure is beginning to flourish for Africa on the international stage, Isabel dos Santos is gas-lighting the current treatment of women in the workplace. It has become the target of her philanthropic endeavors.
She recently made headlines for bringing to light the gender disparity that plagues African creativity. She has stated that women are discouraged because they believe the cultural adage of a domestic roles; an economy for women that relies on tradition. She believes this kind of failures in creativity will allow foreign market advantage, but it will take more than just education for women. Men have to be willing to stand up to their peers and relinquish their fear of women in their space. Only then will it allow an egalitarian dispersion of labor that is necessary to compete internationally. With the implementation of her vision beginning to unfold, Isabel dos Santos is proving that she can overcome adversity in business and in an uncertain political environment.
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