With more people under 20 than anywhere else in the world, Africa is an entrepreneur’s dream. And Jun Shiomitsu is on a mission to turn dreams into business realities.
Jun Shiomitsu leads a double life. His main role is working for Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management’s new think tank, the Global Financial Institute. But twice a year, he heads off to colleges in sub-Saharan Africa, spreading his passion for entrepreneurship to the continent’s best and brightest young people, thirsty for the skills and knowledge to start their own businesses.
He’s lectured in Malawi and Uganda over the past two years at the African Bible Colleges chain, and mentors students on an ongoing basis as they take up the challenge of starting new businesses in Africa. It’s a passion that fits perfectly with Shiomitsu’s Christian beliefs. “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” he points out, quoting from the Bible. “I consider myself very fortunate to be able to have a day job that allows me to give, both financially and educationally.”
There’s no denying that the region faces huge challenges. But it’s also a young continent, brimming with potential – in fact, Africa has more people under 20 than anywhere else in the world. Shiomitsu, however, is well qualified to light the entrepreneurial spark among Africa’s new generation. He’s a self-made kind of person.
Homeschooled in Japan by his parents during childhood, he then studied theology and Christian liberal arts in Japan under his pastor and uncle, Reverend Ralph Smith, instead of going for a normal undergraduate degree. He spent the next eight years in the world of business and finance, rising to become assistant vice president of the treasury department at Citibank Japan at age 26.
He gained his MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School, matriculating in 2010. It was a turning point in his life.
“CJBS made my double life possible,” he says. “I was hired on campus to help start up Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management’s new think tank. My contacts with finance and economics professors – many of whom I had met during my year at CJBS – have been extremely useful. I now manage economic research projects on exciting topics with some of the biggest academic figures from the University of Cambridge, London School of Economics, University of St. Andrews, UC Berkeley and others. The Global Financial Institute’s research is now frequently published in media outlets around the globe.”
The MBA boosted Shiomitsu’s income, allowing him to sponsor more African projects. He also sponsors teams of lecturers who travel and teach in Africa, and has also secured sponsorship from Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management.
But there’s also been a much less tangible outcome. “Much of the knowledge and material behind my lectures in Africa were created from my notes from classes at Cambridge Judge Business School,” Shiomitsu points out. “Just as importantly, I would never have connected with Africa had I not met Dr O. Palmer Robertson, a renowned theologian and the principal of African Bible College Uganda, in Cambridge. The range of people you get to meet in Cambridge is simply incredible.”
The future is looking exciting: he has recently been approached by an African university that wants to start a business incubator in Africa, which will teach, mentor and fund entrepreneurial talent.
“I’m looking forward to my academic projects in Africa growing in scale and scope to become more permanent and to benefit an increasingly larger number of people,” he says. “My life after the MBA has been incredible, bringing three major aspects of my life together into one truly global lifestyle: my expertise in financial services, my passion for social entrepreneurship in developing countries and, most importantly, my Christian upbringing and theological education.”
Jun is interested in hearing from…
…people who, like me, feel driven to teach and fund young African men and women who are eager to learn and to launch their own businesses.