The Mayor’s Commission on African & Caribbean Immigrant Affairs Business & Trade Committee’s forum on navigating the import and export business was held on Thursday Jan. 24 at the Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia.
The event, hosted in coordination with the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center of the U.S. Department of Commerce attracted small business owners from across the city to hear business professionals discuss how to take advantage of the growing opportunities in Africa.
“This is a fantastic event,” said Chairman Stanley Straughter. “Many small, medium-sized minority firms, who just have no idea on where to get technical assistance and financing to help support them in their efforts to do exporting and importing so this program is designed to do that.”
During the event, two panels were held where panelists took the opportunity to explain the opportunities and resources available for businesses seeking to do import and exporting business in Africa.
“We have a great opportunity here to move people to the next level and to help them get the resources and tools they need to expand their business enterprise and, more importantly, how to move forward,” Straughter said.
Straughter said another great thing about the event was that it focused on Africa. According to Straughter, eight of the ten fastest growing economies are in Africa.
“I’m talking about supporting Africa where we have a middle class that is growing at the same rate as the middle class in China,” Straughter said. “Consumer production and purchasing and production in Africa will soon be over $2 trillion.”
“In the final analysis, when we are making money we are creating jobs both here and abroad, and we are helping to elevate our communities and creating economic growth,” he said.
Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell was also present at the event. She told the crowd of business people the commission was a premier organization and has led delegations throughout the continent of Africa. She also praised Straughter and the members of the Commission for their work.
“We have people all over the world and represent some 38 countries throughout Africa and the Caribbean, and we are proud of the leadership on our commission and their commitment to try to get business here and abroad,” she said.
Councilman David Oh chairs the committee on global opportunities and described the event as an “excellent opportunity.”
“One of the things that we are so interested in is increasing the capability of Philadelphians,” he said. “We have a population here in our city that [is] involved in small business and yet, so many of them that have connections around the world, or could have connections around the world, could really get their products out to other countries but don’t know how.”
Oh said that the forum should increase the possibility for small businesses to become global players, which will help increase jobs in the city and local neighborhoods.
Businesses in Philadelphia seeking such assistance can find support from the Small Business Services committee of the Mayor’s Commission of African and Immigrant Affairs, said Kayo Malomo, co-chair.
“Our responsibility is to provide high-level, technical support to local businesses in the Philadelphia area, especially African- and Caribbean-owned business,” Malomo said.