Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chris Gardner forming $1bn South Africa Fund

Chris Gardner (portrayed by Will Smith in the film Pursuit of Happyness) is to launch a $1bn private equity firm in South Africa.

"Chris Gardner is working on a project in South Africa to increase the employment opportunities, economic stability and wealth distribution of an emerging nation. Working with the support of South African government and labor unions, and with the guidance of the financial professionals responsible for investing the largest of US pension assets, Gardner Rich in conjunction with previously disadvantaged South African entrepreneurs, will buy established, stable companies based in South Africa and transform them to compete in the more inclusive South African economy.
In doing so, Chris will directly improve the lives of over 85,000 South Africans by including company employees in his ownership structures. While the social benefits to the people of South Africa are great, the economic motivation is to capitalize upon the previously suppressed work ethic of the South African people and benefit from their fervent desire to be a part of their new dynamic economy; to this end, Chris is proud to help them achieve and share in their goals."

Direct Link says:

"It's a nation he fell madly in love with in the late '90s when he was invited by an institutional customer to meet with senior officials there; during the trip, Nelson Mandela greeted him by declaring, "Welcome home, son." Now he dreams of bringing foreign capital and hundreds of jobs to the country: "I have the opportunity to use everything I've learned in the capital markets on Wall Street over 25 years to do transactions that will actually benefit people while we all make money." As Gardner sees it, American investors' perception of South Africa -- disease, corruption and failing infrastructure -- is horribly skewed. It is, in other words, deeply underestimated -- not unlike how some might have once underestimated a certain homeless man sleeping in a train station. "It's miscategorized and misunderstood," he says. "There are tremendous opportunities as the economy there shifts from natural resources to manufacturing."