The announcement was made by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Tatum, Williams, Lawani, and Folawiyo, who were joined by NBA Global Ambassador and NBA Africa investor Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in advance of Africa Day, an annual worldwide commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) held on 25 May 2021.
Silver said the current enterprise value of NBA Africa is “nearly $1 billion,” though amounts of the league and individual investments were not disclosed. The league said some of its primary areas of focus with the venture are to grow the BAL and to launch additional NBA academies in Africa.
The 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”), HFP’s investment advisor. The investors’ expertise in a wide range of industries and established relationships with African businesses, governments, and NGOs will help accelerate the NBA’s growth across the continent. Lawani and Folawiyo will also join the NBA Africa Board of Directors, which is led by NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams and includes NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum.
In addition to Mutombo, additional 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 increasing access to basketball and the NBA through grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa Games, the launch of the BAL, and more.
The funding will contribute to the growth of the BAL, help expand the NBA’s presence in priority African markets and Africa’s basketball ecosystem, and deepen the league’s engagement with players and fans through initiatives such as the launch of additional NBA Academies and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families, including gender equality and economic inclusion efforts that the NBA and BAL announced in March.
The inaugural BAL season, featuring 12 of the top club teams from 12 African countries, is underway in Kigali, Rwanda, and the first BAL Finals will be held Sunday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m. CAT / 10 a.m. ET.