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Forget China, Africa Is Next Growth Wave

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I recently attended the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Forum in Monaco, where nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs and business leaders gathered to share their views and discuss where they are finding the best investment opportunities for their businesses.

Overwhelmingly, the recurring theme was Africa -- not the politically unstable, war-torn North Africa that is in the news daily, but sub-Saharan Africa.

From those discussions and my subsequent research, I believe the continent is roughly where China was 15 years ago on the development and investment scale.

Africa comprises 54 countries, all with different political systems, risks and degrees of sophistication and infrastructure. As such, from an investor's perspective, I would recommend a broad-based mutual fund, for instance, the Nile Pan-Africa Fund (NAFAX) or an exchange-trade fund such as Market Vectors Index (AFK) to achieve this exposure.

According to former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who spoke to the group, the two largest investment opportunities are in infrastructure and energy -- two sectors that have also been identified by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (see: Mapping Support for Africa's Infrastructure Investment and The Role of Private Investment in Boosting Africa's Energy Infrastructure).

In terms of population, Africa, like China, has more than a billion consumers and prospects for consumer-facing companies are vast. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, if Africa maintains its current growth trajectory, consumers will buy $1.4 trillion worth of goods and services in 2020, roughly in line with India's projected spending and more than Russia's predicted $960 billion.

One entrepreneur -- Akram Khreis, founder and CEO of International Beverages Consultancy -- has already seized this opportunity. Khreis founded the company in 2000 after leaving PepsiCo (PEP), where he served as a senior executive.

Since then, he has made the company, which is based in Jordan, a market leader providing infrastructure support for the food and beverage industry: International Beverage Consultancy now has an 80% market share in Africa and employs more than 300 people. Not bad, considering Khreis started the company with $7,000.

As entrepreneurs like Khreis continue to build businesses to tap the vast opportunities that Africa offers, I believe investors can make significant gains.

At the time of publication, the author owned shares of Pepsi.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

Oliver Pursche is the president of GGFS, a boutique money management firm headquartered in Suffern, NY. Pursche is in charge of all business operations and serves on the firms' Investment Committee, Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Pursche is also a co-portfolio manager of the GMG Defensive Beta Fund (MPDAX).

Over the course of his career, Pursche has had the pleasure of working for venerable firms, such as PaineWebber and Neuberger Berman, as well as taking graduate courses at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. Most recently, Pursche published his first book, Immigrants: Unleashing the Economic Force at our Door.

Pursche is a trilingual financial services executive with more than 20 years of industry experience. His professional focus is on improving organizational structures and efficiencies, particularly in sales and the sales & marketing area. In the case of GGFS, Pursche helped four-fold AUM and five-fold revenues, as well as double profit margins from 2005 to 2013. Pursche accomplished this mainly through sales coaching, re-engineering the marketing processes and having an absolute focus on ROI.

Pursche is a frequent guest on CNBC, Fox Business News and Bloomberg Television. He also writes weekly columns for The Wall Street Journal Trading Deck, Forbes.com, Minyanville and The Street.

Pursche serves on the Advisory Board of the Cherie Blair Foundation www.cherieblairfoundation.org, which focuses on helping women entrepreneurs around the world. He is a member of the New York City Ballet Serenade Society and a member of the Advisory Board at Gemini Fund Services.

Pursche lives in Fairfield, CT with his wife Virginia and their two dogs. For a more complete biography, visit http://about.me/oliverpursche. Follow him on twitter @opursche

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