JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, May 24, 2021 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced the formation of NBA Africa, a new entity that will lead the league’s activities in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL) – a partnership between the NBA and the Federation basketball international (FIBA) and the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.
BAL’s inaugural season, featuring 12 of the best club teams from 12 African countries, is underway in Kigali, Rwanda, and the first BAL final will take place on Sunday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m. NDT / 10 a.m.ET. .
The NBA today announced the formation of NBA Africa, a new entity that will lead the league’s activities in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League.
– NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 24, 2021
Strategic investors include a consortium led by Babatunde “Tunde” Folawiyo, Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group; and Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation (HFP), led by Tope Lawani, co-CEO of HFP and co-founder and managing partner of Helios Investment Partners (“Helios”), investment advisor to HFP. The expertise of investors in a wide range of industries and the relationships established with African companies, governments and NGOs will help accelerate the growth of the NBA across the continent. Lawani and Folawiyo will also join the NBA Africa Board of Directors, which is chaired by NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams, and includes NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the NBA Africa. NBA, Mark Tatum.
The announcement was made today by Silver, Tatum, Williams, Lawani and Folawiyo, who were joined by NBA Global Ambassador and NBA Africa investor Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of Congo) ahead of the Africa Day, an annual worldwide commemoration of the foundation. of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), May 25.
Besides Mutombo, other investors in NBA Africa include NBA Legends Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng (South Sudan), Grant Hill and Joakim Noah.
The NBA has a decades-long history in Africa and opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010. Since then, the league’s efforts in Africa have focused on improving access to basketball and the NBA through grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa Games, BAL launch, and more.
The funding will contribute to the growth of the BAL, help expand the NBA’s presence in priority African markets and the African basketball ecosystem, and deepen the league’s engagement with players and fans through initiatives such as the launch of other NBA academies and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families, including the gender equality and economic inclusion efforts announced by the NBA and the BAL in March.
Folawiyo, who is Nigerian, is Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group, a diversified Nigerian industry group focused on oil exploration and production, energy trading, shipping, and real estate. He is also a former director and minority shareholder of MTN Nigeria, a telecommunications company, and chairman of Coronation Merchant Bank. Global Fellow of the Duke of Edinburgh, Folawiyo is active with organizations focused on the education and promotion of young African leaders and entrepreneurs.
HFP is a Canada-based investment holding company that focuses on public and private investments in companies that operate primarily in Africa. HFP was formed in 2020 through a business combination between Fairfax Africa Holdings and Helios Investment Partners’ management company, Helios Holdings Limited. HFP Co-CEO Lawani is a Nigerian businessman with over 25 years of senior investment experience. He sits on the boards of various listed and private companies, including several large pan-African companies. A member of the MIT Board of Trustees and the Dean’s Advisory Board of Harvard Law School, Lawani received a BS in Chemical Engineering from MIT, a JD from Harvard Law School and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Quotes from the executive:
Babatunde “Tunde” Folawiyo, Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group:
“Sport has always been a unifying factor in Africa, and our people have always excelled in most areas, often far from home and against all odds. This is a unique opportunity for Africa to take advantage of the new economy and develop the commercial and innovation infrastructure in sport. . – I am truly delighted to be part of a group that understands this imperative alongside the power that is the NBA. Combining world-class craftsmanship with local culture has been a strong formula for successful global businesses. We plan this for our partnership. This time around, success will be defined not only by return on investment, but also by a lasting, long-term impact on the lives of our people. This is our goal. “
Tope Lawani, co-CEO of Helios Fairfax Partners:
“Throughout the history of Helios, we have brought together international capital and the expertise of African talents and companies, and this is a unique opportunity for us to do so in the world of sport by partnering with the NBA, a truly best-in-class operator. As a committed and experienced partner for companies operating across Africa, we look forward to contributing our expertise, connectivity and market knowledge to support NBA Africa’s growth across the continent. “
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver:
“Today’s announcement is the result of many years of investment and work on the ground to develop basketball in Africa and the recognition of the enormous opportunities that exist for the NBA on the continent. We believe that basketball can become a top sport across Africa over the next decade, and I look forward to working closely with our investors to make this goal a reality. “
NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams:
“The success of forming and funding NBA Africa as a stand-alone entity is indicative of the rich history of the NBA in Africa, the power of the NBA’s vision for the growth of the game on the continent and the strong commitment from our new exceptional partners. to support this vision. I would like to thank the entire NBA Africa team, led for ten years by Amadou Gallo Fall and John Manyo-Plange, for the work they have done to throw the basics of the game on the continent that made this step possible. “
NBA Global Ambassador and NBA Africa Investor Dikembe Mutombo:
“This is a historic day for basketball in Africa, and I am honored to join this special group of leaders who are committed to the continent and to using the game to improve people’s lives. ‘having been among the first players in Africa to make an impact in the NBA, and thanks to the commitment of these people, countless other players will have the opportunity to follow in my footsteps in the years to come. “