Former President Barack Obama has become a strategic partner and minority shareholder in the Africa operations of the National Basketball Association, which oversees the Basketball Africa League.
The NBA launched its African entity in May and values the company as a nearly $1 billion enterprise. NBA Africa oversees the BAL, which held its inaugural season last May, and has investors including Dikembe Mutombo, Grant Hill and Junior Bridgeman. The league said Obama would use his stake in NBA Africa to fund the Obama Foundation’s youth and leadership programs across Africa.
The terms of Obama’s shareholding have not been disclosed.
Led by CEO Victor Williams, NBA Africa is looking to forge business partnerships, expand content and media rights, and support local governments looking to build new basketball arenas. The BAL includes 12 teams and league games are broadcast in 215 countries and territories, and the NBA sees basketball as a top sport across Africa in 10 years.
Currently, 55 players who are either from Africa or whose parents are Native Africans play in the NBA. Team owners see the BAL as a way to scout and develop talent on the fast-growing continent and another way to expand its global appeal. Sports betting partners could also test new technologies in the competition.
Nigeria-based industrial group Yinka Folawiyo Group and Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation, an investment holding company that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “HFPC”, are investors in NBA Africa, alongside former NBA players Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are also investors . In addition, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum hold board seats.
“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States – using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to advance opportunity, well-being, equality and empowerment across the continent. Obama said. in a statement. “By investing in communities, promoting gender equality and cultivating a love for the game of basketball, I believe NBA Africa can make a difference to so many African young people.”
Obama praised the NBA’s “commitment to Africa, including the leadership of so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities.”
“We are honored that President Obama has become a strategic partner in NBA Africa and will support our broad efforts to grow the basketball game on the continent,” Silver added in a statement. “In addition to his well-documented love of basketball, President Obama strongly believes in Africa’s potential and the tremendous growth opportunities offered by sport. NBA Africa will benefit immensely from his engagement.”