The National Basketball Association has announced the formation of NBA Africa, a new entity that will conduct the league’s business in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League.
The BAL is a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America. The inaugural BAL season is currently underway in Kigali, Rwanda and the first BAL Finals will be held on 30 May.
The 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, HFP’s investment advisor. 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.
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The announcement was made by Silver, Tatum, Williams, Lawani and Folawiyo, who were joined by NBA Global Ambassador and NBA Africa investor Dikembe Mutombo.
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 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, including gender equality and economic inclusion efforts that the NBA and BAL announced in March.