The National Basketball Association (NBA) has established a new entity to help accelerate the growth of the league in Africa.
Investors in NBA Africa include Helios Fairfax Partners and Babatunde Folawiyo, the chairman and chief executive of Nigeria-based Yinka Folawiyo Group, alongside former NBA players Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng, Grant Hill, Dikembe Mutombo and Joakim Noah.
Despite the value of the investments having not been made public, league commissioner Adam Silver has claimed that the venture is already worth nearly US$1 billion.
The funding is set to be used to expand the league's presence in Africa, develop its basketball ecosystem and support the launch of NBA academies and social responsibility initiatives.
It will also go towards growing the Basketball Africa League (BAL), which is currently undergoing its inaugural season.
“This is a unique opportunity for Africa to leverage the new economy and develop the business and innovation infrastructure of sports,” said Folawiyo. “I am genuinely excited to be in a group that understands this imperative alongside the powerhouse that is the NBA.
“Bringing world-class know-how together with local nous has been a strong formula for successful global businesses. We foresee this for our partnership. This time, success will be defined not just by return on investment but by sustainable and long-term impact on the lives of our people.”
Silver added in a statement: “Today’s announcement is the result of many years of investment and on-the-ground work to grow the game of basketball in Africa and a recognition of the enormous opportunities ahead 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 that goal a reality.”
Author: Jake Wilkin