Corporate Heritage Africa

Telling the story of African business

An initiative by members of The 1873 Network that aims to:

  • Encourage all aspects of research writing and teaching of corporate history and the environment in which business operates.
  • Further the historical study of business and their environments – political, social and cultural in which business operates

Business historians and entrepreneurs know only well the challenges of locating and accessing the historical records of corporations and their actors which is vital in tracing and reconstructing the complex evolution of business enterprises.  Central to the problem is the foreign nature of capitalism and the ease with which the system throws out more losers than winners to the extent that the story is easily lost.

The CHA initiative seeks to determine the broad historical features of business organisations, lifespan, business activities, and the actors who breathe life into enterprises, the change in status through acquisition, merger and takeover.


The CHA initiative is a collaborative project involving members of the Network who are committed to researching, preserving and writing about the Corporate History of Africa.

The Project has two objectives:

  • To encourage the addition to the knowledge base about business and its role in building viable societies and nation states; and
  • To establish a collection of archival materials to support business development in Africa as well as business history-related teaching and research.

The Purpose

The purpose of CHA is not to duplicate collections and services already available; but rather to:

  • Collect information about what is available so that entrepreneurs and researchers are better informed;
  • Start to collect the business records of important African business that are not already being collected elsewhere
  • Assemble a collection of hard to find secondary business history sources

Remembering Africa’s Corporate History

Who and what is remembered depends not only on the preservation of materials by archives but also on the availability of those materials to researchers and interested persons.

The business community plays an important role in building Africa.  Our goal is to help the stories of the men and women who operate in business told as well as the stories of business told.

Corporate History in the broadest includes everything about our business past, from the history of individual firms to that of entire business systems.  The history of business in Africa as a social institution is one of the neglected aspects of our narrative and our literature.

To be featured:

  1. 5,000 Points of Light – famous people who made it big in African business
  2. 1,000 Points of Light – famous women in African History who made it big
  3. 500 Points of Light – famous black entrepreneurs
  4. 100 Points of Light – famous black people who changed the African Business world
  5. 50 Points of Light – important women in African History whose work changed the character of the continent.