Africa is open for business.
That was the overarching message shared during the African and Caribbean Business Council’s Business Roundtable.
Held at the Penn Museum, the event brought together Philadelphia region business leaders and ambassadors and representatives from six African and Caribbean countries to discuss the theme of driving economic development and building access to the global market.
Stanley Straughter, chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs launched the roundtable by encouraging businesses to tap into the African marketplace.
“Seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. It’s just phenomenal what’s going on in Africa, and unfortunately for some reason the United States just hasn’t caught up to it yet,” said Straughter.
During the four-hour roundtable, ambassadors from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago, gave an overview of their respective countries and potential investment opportunities.
Investment potential exists in the areas of alternative energy, oil, fisheries and sustainable agriculture for many of the countries represented. In South Africa, opportunities exist in the areas of aerospace technologies, automobile and defense and agri-processing.
During the event, David Briel, Executive Director, Center for Direct Investment, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, addressed how the state assists international trade efforts.
The center will assist 10 companies in a trade mission to South Africa from February 21 to March 2. The mission includes meetings in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
Barbara Span, vice president of Western Union, touted the African Diaspora Marketplace competition. Funded by U.S. Aid and Western Union, the business plan competition is geared towards connecting Diaspora entrepreneurs with the country of their origin. This year’s competition focuses on entrepreneurs in three sectors including information and communications technology (ICT), agribusiness and alternative energy. Winners will receive grants of $100,000 to start and grow small and medium sized businesses in 18 African countries. Official details about the competition will be announced later this week.
Founded in 2006, the ACBC promotes the business interests of African and Caribbean entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia area.