Ahead of President Obama's second U.S.-Africa Business Forum planned for New York on September 21, 2016, the FEEEDS Initiative —Food Security, Education, Environment-Energy, Economics, Democracy-Development and Self-help— in partnership with GALLUP, hosted the third annual forum on Africa in Washington, D.C. to discuss the importance and impact of Africa Diaspora small and medium size Enterprises (SMES) in the development of the Continent. Managing Partner, Gallup, Jon Clifton, introduced the featured special guest, Catherine Byrne, President Obama's Special Assistant and Senior Director for African Affairs at the White House.
Other speakers included Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Deputy Director of the Africa Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Leila Ndiaye, Africa Policy Director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Rahama Wright, member President's Doing Business in Africa Council (PAC-DBIA) & CEO-Shea Yeleen, with Allafrica.com CEO, Reed Kramer, as moderator.
The hosts for the Africa Diaspora SME Business Forum were Jon Clifton, Managing Partner, GALLUP, and Ambassador Robin Sanders, CEO-FEEEDS. AllAfrica.com and GB Group Global led by Dr. Gloria Herndon were this year's featured partners. This is the third year Allafrica.com has been the media partner and the first that GB Group Global participated.
In her opening remarks, Ambassador Sanders said the FEEEDS-GALLUP Africa Diaspora SME Business Forum represents an important step forward for high-level meetings in sharing practical and useful information to Africa SMEs, the state of the current U.S.-Africa business relationship, and Gallup's important data of the state of the Sub-Saharan Africa Region. "It also provides for a unique platform to highlight the role that Africa Diaspora SMEs are playing in the region's economic development, GDP growth, and spurring the middle class," Sanders said.
In her speech, President Obama's Special Assistant for Africa, Catherine Byrne, noted that despite huge security challenges, democracy and business growth have taken root in Africa and "there is progress." She said progress can be seen in several countries in Africa including places such as Zambia and Nigeria where exemplary general elections were held with winners and losers embracing peace not violence. She said the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum planned for New York in September 21, 2016 will solidify the Obama Administration's effort to not only increase US-Africa business ties, but strengthen the US-Africa relationship.
Byrne identified some of the economic policies that have achieved results in Africa as the Security Governance and Trade Africa Initiatives, Power Africa, FEED the Future program, The Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI), the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, assistance setting up an Africa-like Center for Disease Control (which is already underway as a result of the Ebola outbreak), the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), efforts to fight corruption, and the extensions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another 10 years – all will be part of President Obama's Africa legacy. She highlighted these examples that we can all build on in response to questions about: what has been achieved; where is the US-Africa relationship going, and, what was next in the relationship.
The Africa Diaspora SME business forum had two sessions. The first session, moderated by AllAfrica.com's CEO Reed Kramer, had Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Leila Ndiaye and Rahama Wright. The panel discussed Africa's current investment opportunities, key sectors for SME participation, the role of President Obama's PAC-DBIA, and his upcoming U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York. The panel also discussed key business sectors for Africa diaspora SMEs.
The second session was the "Lightening Round" as it was focused on highlighting Gallup's key data on Africa, and U.S. Government programs where SMEs can obtain assistance, funding, loans, grants and advice. Lead speakers were Ngozi Bell of U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), Gallup's Magali Rheault, director of the Africa Research Division, and Nicholas Bassey, director of USAID's Frontier Partnership Office. The highlight of Ms. Rheault's presentation was the data showing that African citizens in the countries polled were pleased with their leaders elected in 2015, and that most nationals preferred to work in the private versus government sector. One of the main takeaways messages of SBA and USAID was that Africa Diaspora businesses should seek to take more advantage of the range of services, programs, and assistance that are available to them (see FEEEDS's cloud for slide presentations: www.bit.ly/FEEEDS-GALLUP7-14-16).
The event was attended by 200 Africa Diaspora SMEs or organizations, African Embassy representatives (Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Cape Verde, Sao Tome & Principe, etc.) and U.S. government officials. The take away for most of the audience was the ability and access to expert speakers, information, and the technical assistance opportunities.
About the hosts and partners:
FEEEDS® mostly works in Africa and with Diaspora groups and businesses working on economic development issues, and on the advising arm of the firm called, FE3DS.llC, has clients in the power, housing, and technology sectors. FEEEDS publishes @the FEEEDS Index, powered by Gallup Analytics®. See: bit.ly/FEEEDSIndex
Gallup is one of the world's leading data, research, and polling private sector firms headquartered in the United States. It provides data-driven news based on U.S. and world polls, daily tracking and public opinion research.See www.gallup.com;
AllAfrica is the leading online platform for daily news and analysis on all issues related to Africa. It has feature stories and pages that can be an asset to any business looking to further expand its news and reach across the Continent. See www.allafrica.com
GB Group Global is a dynamic international firm, led by Dr. Gloria Herndon, which works in several sectors from energy to extractive industries to pharmaceuticals, as well as provides consulting and other services. See https://gbgroupglobal.com