Isabel dos Santos Uses Her Skills to Improve the Economy

While many people understand the economy in broad strokes as it pertains to business or trade, the topic becomes unwieldy for many when it veers toward the ways in which it affects quality of life. This confusion becomes even more pronounced when discussing the interplay between business and economic conditions in struggling nations. To help illuminate the ways in which business can help improve standards of living, we took some time to focus on Isabel dos Santos a leading businesswoman whose work in Angola and across Africa has garnered her quite a bit of recognition. Look below for an overview of her efforts into economic stimulus and helping lift others out of poverty.

Local economic conditions

When the economy is discussed in many large media outlets, the focus is often at the national or international level. Issues such as trade policy and rising or falling stock markets can often dominate the conversation in these areas. That’s, of course, understandable as this type of macro view of global economies has the potential to affect a lot about how we live our lives — from the types of resources available to us to the leaders we elect. However, though many economic issues can be analyzed through this wide lens, we miss out on a lot if we don’t also take a look at the microeconomic level as well.

On the local scale, the ways in which business can affect quality of life for ordinary people becomes quite a bit more apparent. Without the jobs created by business, income and wages can stagnate, robbing people of their ability to purchase the goods necessary for survival. Business also helps to bring goods and services to areas by creating and improving infrastructures or creating industries around the sale of such items. When business is thriving at a local level, we often see microeconomic conditions improving. The opposite is also often true, when business activity drops or stagnates, so too does quality of life.

Gender issues

One of the ways in which Isabel dos Santos works to implement economic reform is through the support she lends to issues affecting the economic plights of women. This work is aimed at making changes in a multitude of ways that are beneficial to not only the women who are directly targeted, but also societies at large. One of the ways in which this work is carried out is through the promotion of women in leadership roles. Not only does this allow the women in these roles to have a more direct say over the course of the companies they head, but it also provides role models that young women can learn from in their own pursuits.

Beyond the impact such activities have on women themselves, as women become more engaged in the workforce, the economy will likely benefit on an overall level. When touching on this topic, Isabel dos Santos refers to the notion that the economy is really just a sum of our collective efforts to produce goods and services. In the many areas where female involvement in the workforce is restricted, there is plenty of room for improvement in production just by getting more people involved. In this fashion, the more fully women can be integrated into the modern workplace, the more everyone is likely to benefit on an economic level.

Infrastructure improvements

Another key issue that the businesswoman seeks to address through her work is the severe lack of infrastructure in many African countries. It is a common issue in the development community that, while goods may be available to help improve quality of life, there may not be an adequate infrastructure in place to distribute these resources. Classically, quality of roads has been an impediment in this area, with many remote roads being made of dirt that washes out easily or becomes impassable during inclement weather or through lack of repair.

One of the infrastructures that the businesswoman has been actively involved in improving is Angola’s communication and information system. Through her leadership role at Unitel, the leading provider of telecommunications services in Angola, she has helped bring mobile phone coverage to many of the country’s far-flung rural communities. Beyond that, she has also been instrumental in the laying of fiber optic cables that will eventually contribute to a large high-speed internet network in the country. This would not only further improve communication abilities but also greatly increase access to information and economic opportunity.

Potential of technology

One of the other areas in which Isabel dos Santos seeks economic stimulus is through the promotion and implementation of new and emerging technologies. In part through her studies of electrical engineering at King’s College, she gained a deep appreciation for the power of technology when used appropriately to the betterment of all. This is an attitude she not only brought with her to future business endeavors but also a topic upon which she speaks often when advocating for more targeted development in Africa.

As the businesswoman often highlights in her speaking engagements, with new technologies often comes new industries and the potential for job creation and increased economic activity. One example she gives is that of the electric car, which is a product that is gaining in popularity around the world. With its advent comes the potential for a great need in terms of service stations, manufacturers, and other related services. Though this technology was a relatively small part of the economy even a decade or two ago, its rapid growth has served to underscore the businesswoman’s contention that economic conditions can improve as businesses grow and evolve.

While economic issues are often discussed on the global scale, the ability to understand such topics down to their most micro roots can be an invaluable skill for those who want to make a positive impact on the world. By taking a look at efforts by Isabel dos Santos to improve economic conditions as she grows her businesses and operates as a public figure, we can gain a better understanding of just how important business leaders can be for the wellbeing of all. Look to the above overview of some of her philosophies to more fully appreciate the efforts by the businesswoman to use the economy as a source for good now and into the future.

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