African Business Roundtable
Friday, June 8, 2018
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
African Business Roundtable
GIC’s African Business Roundtable, held in collaboration with the Annual ODUNDE Festival, will take place on Friday, June 8, 2018. This annual event is free, but registration is required.
Created in 1975, Odunde provides opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to meet, engage, cultivate, and learn about the African Diaspora’s heritage, communities, leadership and arts. Odunde is the largest African festival in the United States. Click here to learn more.
3:00 p.m. | Registration
3:30 p.m. | Welcoming Remarks
- Harold T. Epps, Director of Commerce at the City of Philadelphia
- Senator Sharif Street, Pennsylvania State Senator representing the Third Senatorial District of Philadelphia
- Donald Rissmiller, Founding Partner of Strategas and Chairman of GIC
3:45 p.m. | Keynote Address
- H.E. Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, Ambassador from Ghana
4:00 p.m. | Panel Session
- H.E. Mamadou Haidara, Ambassador from Cote d’Ivoire
- H.E. Etoundi Essomba, Ambassador from Cameroon
- Samuel Worzie, Assistant Information Minister of Liberia
- John Kelley, Deputy Director, Africa Bureau’s Economic and Regional Affairs Office
5:00 p.m. | Audience Q&A
- Moderator: Hon. Stanley L. Straughter, Chairman, African and Caribbean Business Council
5:15 p.m. | Presentation by H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett
- Founder and Head of Mission of the (AU) African Diaspora Forum
5:25 p.m. | Conclusion
- Oshunbumi Fernandez, CEO of Odunde
- Jannie L. Blackwell, Member of the City Council of Philadelphia
5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Reception
African American Museum of Philadelphia (701 Arch St)
Generously sponsored by the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Affairs
Description of Participants’ Organization and Countries
African Union (AU)
The African Union is the official diplomatic representative to the United States of America. The African Union Commission is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and has developed a dynamic program to increase economic growth, create jobs, and expand access to healthcare for the growing African population. The African Union represents 55 African Countries and over 1.2 billion people, several of the world’s fastest growing economics are on the continent of Africa with many of the world’s essential commodities. Africa, with its young population and growing middle class, is open for business but the continent lacks many of the necessary elements to reach its goals. United States businesses and especially Philadelphia large and small businesses will have a unique opportunity to hear about trade and exports to the African continent and other collaborations and partnerships.
The Republic of Cameroon
The City of Philadelphia has a major interest in the Republic of Cameroon. In 1985 on a Trade Mission with the City of Philadelphia to Douala Cameroon, lea by the late Congressman William H. Gray, III. Doula was selected as Philadelphia’s first African Sister City. Cameroon is a major player in Central Africa and its ports are key access points to the Central African market that includes ten (10) countries and a consumer market exceeding 300 million people. In October 2017 the Mayor of Douala will lead an “In Bound Trade Mission” to Philadelphia with business leaders seeking goods, services and commodities manufactured in the Greater Philadelphia region. The business delegation will visit businesses in the region as well as have one-on-one meetings to discuss buying and selling of products, goods and services. This African Business Roundtable will provide more information on the trade mission and speak to specific export opportunities available.
The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire
Cote d’Ivoire is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country has had a long term relationship with the Greater Philadelphia region, due to it being the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans, a major grower of coffee and other agricultural products. The country is rich with many other natural resources, (like oil, gold, etc.) Many of the leaders of the country attended colleges and universities in the Greater Philadelphia region. The current Head of State graduated from Drexel University and received a Doctorate from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The country is building a vast infrastructure and due to its growing economy many products, goods and services produced in the United States is in demand. The growing middle class in the country is forging ahead to increase the quality of life for its citizens and make an interesting target to focus on “inbound tourism” to Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Ivory Coast Chamber of Commerce will launch its operations on June 9, 2017 and will develop a strategy to promote trade with their country.
Republic of Liberia
Liberia is a very important county to the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has over 60,000 Liberian immigrants living in the state, the largest Liberian population of any state. Over 30,000 of them live in the Greater Philadelphia region. While this population has raised their families in Philadelphia, formed small businesses, paid taxes and contributed to the diverse culture of Philadelphia in the past, they are now engaged in the economic growth of the Republic of Liberia. Many Liberian leaders live and work in Philadelphia and have strong economic and cultural ties to the country. They are now moving to open trade and investment opportunities in the country. Liberia, founded by former slaves, has evolved to form collaboratives and partnerships with businesses and institutions to create jobs and promote economic growth. With the formation of the new Liberian Chamber of Commerce based in Philadelphia, businesses have direct access to this growing market for U.S. produced goods.
Republic of Ghana
Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa. Ghana has an abundance of minerals such as gold, diamonds, bauxite, etc., agricultural and other natural resources, which include forests, vast areas of arable land and oil. Ghana has a long relationship with the Greater Philadelphia region. The first democratically elected president of Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) lived in Philadelphia for ten years, graduating from Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania. Ghana is the seat of the United States West Africa Trade Hub which provides U.S. firms direct access to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a population of nearly 300 million people and 16 countries. Together, Ghana and the Ivory Coast produce 70% of the world’s cocoa. In 2018, the two countries signed an agreement to protect the cocoa producers in their country and to define a better, common strategy and a sustainable solution for the improvement of prices for cocoa producers in their respective countries. This agreement could have some impact on the production of chocolate manufacturing firms operating in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Harrisburg.
100 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
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H.E. Dr. Barfuor Adjei-BarwuahAmbassador of the Republic of Ghana
His Excellency Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, the 19th Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana to the United States of America, presented his credentials to President Donald John Trump on 21st July, 2017.
H.E. Dr. Erieka BennettPresident, African Communications Agency
H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett has traveled, worked and lived in Africa for over 35 years. As the Convening Founder and Head of Mission of the (AU) African Diaspora Forum, The first and only diplomatic embassy in the world dealing specifically with the Diaspora issues.
Jannie L. BlackwellMember of the City Council of Philadelphia
Jannie L. Blackwell, a six term councilperson born and reared in Philadelphia, is a seasoned advocate for social change with a thirty year reputation for serving community members and the poor and underprivileged in the City of Philadelphia, making her a leader in our City with her own vision.
Harold T. EppsDirector of Commerce at the City of Philadelphia
Harold T. Epps is the Director of Commerce at the City of Philadelphia and is a business leader with over 30 years of corporate experience in providing high performance products and solutions for complex and compliance driven industries.
H.E. Henri Etoundi EssombaAmbassador of the Republic of Cameroon to the United States of America
H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba is a Senior Diplomat. He was appointed Ambassador of The Republic Of Cameroon To The United States Of America On April 11, 2016.
Oshunbumi FernandezCEO of ODUNDE, Inc.
Celebration, Passion and Persistence….. are the words that come to mind when describing the life of Oshunbumi Fernandez, CEO of ODUNDE, Inc.
H.E. Mamadou HaidaraAmbassador of Côte d’Ivoire to the United States of America
H.E. Mamadou Haidara, the current Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire to the United States of America is a graduate from University of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and post-graduate from Strayer University in Washington, D.C and from University of California, Los Angeles.
John KelleyDeputy Director, Africa Bureau’s Economic and Regional Affairs Office
John Kelley currently serves as the Deputy Director in the Africa Bureau’s Economic and Regional Affairs Office, managing the Multilateral; Strategic Planning; and Democracy and Human Rights Units. Just prior, he spent three and half years in DRC, first as the Eastern Congo Unit Chief, then as the Economic Counselor.
Donald RissmillerFounding Partner of Strategas
Donald Rissmiller is a founding partner of Strategas and has been the firm's chief economist since 2006, directing its macroeconomic research effort. He oversees Strategas' high-frequency econometric forecasting and thematic economic research. Mr. Rissmiller's research has been consistently recognized by Institutional Investor magazine in their annual survey: he was ranked best up and coming economist in 2008, and was third in their 2009 All-America Independent Research Team survey. He is frequently quoted in the financial press.
Stanley StraughterSpecialist in International Business Development and Financial Management
Mr. Straughter is a specialist in international business development in the financial management area. With nearly thirty years experience in international development he has lived and worked in several countries on the continents of Africa, Central Asia, the Caribbean and Russia. As a finance specialist, Mr. Straughter has provided services to foreign governments in governance and transparency, worked with finance ministers and provided advice and counsel to governments on trade policy and foreign direct investment.
Senator Sharif StreetPennsylvania State Senator representing the Third Senatorial District of Philadelphia
Senator Sharif Street, elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 2016, represents the Third Senatorial District of Philadelphia, which encompasses a population of over 240,000 people in North Philadelphia, Nicetown, Roxborough, Lower Germantown, Logan, Olney, Fern Rock, Crescentville, East Oak Lane, East Wyoming, East Hunting Park and Melrose Park Garden.
Samuel WorzieAssistant Information Minister of Liberia, Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT)
Assistant Minister Worzie is a Liberian statesman, technocrat, philanthropist and politician. He holds a BBA Degree in Accounting and Management from the African Methodist Episcopal University, a BSC in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Liberia; and a Master of Science in Finance and Systems from the Cuttington University Graduate School in Liberia.