As the Head of Development Finance at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), Prof Charles Adjasi is an expert on the importance of finance in growth and economic development on the African continent. He is also a National Research Foundation-rated scientist, and a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund in the United States.
Prof Adjasi explains that most developing countries have low access to finance, which widens structural gaps in education, health and public infrastructure. Development finance offers an innovative way to finance economic activity or to find access to financial services within a development context. It provides firms with opportunities for new investment and growth plans, helping households and individuals to invest in their welfare and helping governments to co-finance public investments.
He assisted with the development of USB-ED's Certificate in Development Finance, which mostly focuses on African cases that have made an impact, and shares the experience of participants in class: "You can see the enthusiasm on their faces, because they realise that what they learn will be immediately applicable when they get to work. They come and find solutions." Some participants realise why they struggle to deepen their activities in a market, while others begin to understand what type of financial institutions they must approach for finance. "It's about understanding the principal of perceived risk, cost, the business model that is being used by micro enterprises, and then the issues of sustainability and impact," Prof Adjasi says. He also explains that countries have different social systems, and financial innovation must fit the social economic system of a particular country: "South Africa is unique because it has two world of one. The country has the best of the financial markets in the world, but then there are stark differences in the social context."
Prof Adjasi's friends are still surprised he became an academic, as his nick name used to be "the fun seeker." The reason he became a lecturer, however, is due to his unending desire to answer questions. Perhaps this is why Stephen Hawking's book: The Theory of Everything is one of his favourite reads. In his free time, Prof Adjasi loves to cook, read African history, applied physics and biology, and enjoys the beauties of nature. In younger days he used to be a Disk Jockey (DJ), and still enjoys mixing music. He lives by a motto of balance that he learnt from a friend's father: "If you want to have fun, have fun, but not to your detriment. If you want to work hard, work hard, but not to your detriment."