How Isabel Dos Santos Became A Force in the Environmental Community
Isabel dos Santos is one of just 15 black billionaires in the world. She and Oprah Winfrey are the only two female black billionaires. However, Oprah Winfrey’s name is much more well-known in the United States. Nonetheless, Ms. dos Santos is proving that she has a huge role to play in the global economy and beyond.
Who Is Isabel dos Santos?
She is an investor from Angola, Africa. She is also the daughter of Angola’s former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. In June 2016, her father named her head of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil firm. However, the new president removed her in November 2017, just after Jose Edward dos Santos stepped down as president.
Although she has some political connections, Ms. dos Santos truly amassed her wealth through business savvy and hard work. Her parents instilled a belief that educating women is just as important as teaching men, and they made efforts to treat her the same as her brothers. Ms. dos Santos studied electrical engineering at King’s College in London. This experience gave Ms. dos Santos a unique perspective into a male-dominated field, which has proved to be a helpful segue into her business roles today.
Now, Ms. dos Santos plays a very different role in her country. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Unitel, Angola’s largest telecommunications company, a company in which she also owns a 25% stake through another company, Vidatel. She was a founding member of Unitel and continues to be very active in the development of telecommunications in Angola.
Ms. dos Santos is an independent investor and businesswoman, and she is playing an increasing role in global environmental issues.
The Focus on Environmental Issues and Global Sustainability
Although Isabel dos Santos is well-known as Africa’s richest woman, she is also well-known as someone who gives back to her community and promotes Angola on a global scale. Through all of her business projects, including finance, fossil fuels, construction, and telecommunications, Ms. dos Santos has had a focus on providing services or products in a socially conscious way.
In September 2019, Ms. dos Santos attended the invitation-only Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, New York. More than 200 political and business leaders attended this third-annual summit. This huge gathering of businesses focused on exploring and developing ways for businesses to support the environment and economic stability across the world.
Ms. dos Santos discussed environmental issues at an interview at the Forum, saying “both politicians and entrepreneurs want to think about solutions and what to do to make the future better so that these problems can be eased and corrected.” As she points out, the environmental issues that the world is seeing in 2019 are problems that affect everyone — and everyone should be working to solve them, not just the government or politicians.
As someone from Angola, Ms. dos Santos is particularly interested in environmental issues. She noted in her interview that “Angola, from the point of view of biodiversity, is one of the richest countries.” As such, she has made huge efforts to not only act socially responsible in her own business ventures but also to encourage other entrepreneurs, particularly those who are in emerging markets, to make environmentally friendly business choices.
View this post on Instagram
Porque vemos Angola como um todo e porque sentimos os sofrimentos da nossa terra, juntos respondemos às necessidades causadas pela seca terrível no Cunene. Todos somos Angola! No BFA levamos a sério este chamamento e disponibilizamos 2 milhões de dólares para ajudar mais de duas mil e 400 famílias afectadas pela seca 🙏🏾. Porque àgua é vida💧! Este é o nosso projecto “Mais água, Mais vida” que vai garantir a estas famílias vários serviços desde o acesso à água potável, saúde, educação, reabilitação de furos de água, e a melhoria das condições de 15 escolas para que as crianças possam ter a educação que merecem. Estamos juntos pelo Cunene, pelos Angolanos e por Angola 🇦🇴 #SharingbyIsabeldosSantos #Cunene #Angola #ResponsabilidadeSocial #BFA #proudlyAngolan Because we see Angola as a whole and because we feel the griefs of our motherland, together we react to the needs caused by the terrible drought in Cunene. We are all Angola! At BFA we took this call seriously and provided $ 2 million to help more than 2,400 families affected by the drought 🙏🏾. Because water is life💧! This is our “More Water, More Life” project that will provide these families with a variety of services from access to clean water, health, education, water hole rehabilitation, and will improve the conditions of 15 schools so that children can have the education they deserve. We are together for Cunene, Angolans, and Angola 🇦🇴
The Benefits to Angola
As an Angola native and influential figure in the country, Ms. dos Santos had made huge strides in the betterment of Angola as a whole. She has touched a wide range of charitable and developmental projects, including:
- Improving transportation and telecommunications infrastructures
- Electric vehicle technology
- Widespread education and skills training initiatives
- Projects that focus on women’s education and empowerment
- Work toward the eradication of malaria
- Developing and promoting university scholarships
- Improvement of living conditions for children (including the Home Kuzola in Luanda, a children’s shelter with roughly 300 children on a regular basis)
As an example of just one of her projects, Isabel dos Santos was instrumental in creating the Strawberry Plantation in Humpata, in the providence of Huila. The project instructed workers on how to run their own planation by offering training that involved marketing, growing, and developing their trade. To date, 120 women have taken advantage of the program, which offers full-time employment with the training.
Ms. dos Santos states: “I believe in projects focused on the well-being of communities and that are a transforming force in the local economy.” She focuses many of her projects on women because she believes “strong women make strong communities. Creating opportunities and employment for women means betting on the progress of the communities themselves. When they thrive, women invest their income in the family, health, and education. I value this as a sense of duty, commitment, and dedication. The impact that women create around them is powerful and transformative.”
View this post on Instagram
A cada dia que passa os nossos frutos e legumes estão maiores, mais coloridos, mais frescos e saborosos. Fruto bom que vem da nossa terra mãe 🌱… Três anos tem já este projecto que começámos com as nossas próprias mãos e sonhos aqui na Humpata. Com o esforço de todos hoje produzimos até mais do que morangos 🍓. Sem nunca desistir porque no futuro eu acredito que vamos conseguir levar os nossos produtos nacionais para o resto do mundo. Esta é a solução para o desenvolvimento de Angola: a aposta na produção nacional que faz crescer a nossa terra, dá sustento às nossas famílias e impulsiona a nossa economia internamente e a nível internacional. Eu sei que somos capazes de levar Angola para o mundo 🇦🇴🌎 #SharingbyIsabeldosSantos #beliveinyourself #persistence #entrepreneurship #farm #africanfarm #proudlyAngolan #Angola #agricultura With each day our fruits and vegetables are getting bigger, more colorful, fresher and tastier. Fruits of our motherland 🌱… Three years ago, we started this project with our own hands and dreams here at Humpata. With everyone’s efforts today we produce even more than strawberries 🍓. Without ever giving up because in the future I believe we will be able to bring our national products to the rest of the world. This is the solution for Angola’s development: investing in national production that makes our land grow, supports our families and boosts our country’s economy and on an internationally. I know we are able to bring Angola to the world 🇦🇴🌎
Exploring Isabel dos Santos’ Values and Beliefs
Because of Angola’s abundance of natural resources, it has a huge potential for economic growth compared to surrounding countries. To encourage successful, sustainable growth, Ms. dos Santos has provided some tips and insights for entrepreneurs that focus on the pillars that make up her personal belief platform.
Invest in Education
Isabel dos Santos believes that education is the bedrock for entrepreneurship. She believes that without education, Angola will not be able to tap into its rich resources and avenues for significant growth, but these ideas reach far beyond Angola as well. Entrepreneurs can make efforts to support education through training and developmental opportunities.
Young people are also a driving force for both business and politics today. Social media is giving young people a platform that they have never had before. Educational investments in young people can be a catalyst for change both from a business and environmental perspective.
Forcing Partnerships With Charitable Groups
Businesses should make efforts to partner with charitable groups not only as a way to give back to their community, but also to develop and support their country as a whole. Organizations that support children, housing, education, and sanitation only work to better everyone around them. By investing in and supporting those causes, businesses not only promote themselves but also improve their communities as well.
Females have a huge impact on the community as a whole. Ms. dos Santos strongly believes in supporting women in the workforce, and that should be a priority for green companies. Women are more likely to be involved in philanthropic opportunities, including environmental protection. By pairing with these already passionate women, these green companies have a leg up when it comes to developing and impacting the environment in a positive way.
Isabel dos Santos is clearly on the move in the global environmental arena. Her ideas and programs are working toward environmental protection in ways that benefit both businesses and the environment.