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African Business Roundtable

Friday, June 9, 2017
Boehne Auditorium, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
100 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Event Detail

African Business Roundtable

Held in collaboration with the 42nd Annual ODUNDE Festival

About the 42nd Annual ODUNDE Festival
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. http://odundefestival.org/


2:00 p.m. — Registration

2:30 p.m. — Welcoming Remarks
Don Rissmiller, Chief Economist, Strategas Research Partners and GIC Vice Chairman

2:35 p.m. — Keynote Address
H.E. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, African Union Ambassador to the United States

3:30 p.m. — Session I: United States Perspective
Robert Scott, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State

3:45 p.m. — Panel Session: Trade and Investments in Africa
• H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba, Ambassador for Cameroon 
• H.E. Daouda Diabate, Ambassador for the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire 
• H.E. Jeff Gongoer Dowana, Sr., Charge’ d’Affaires, a.i., Embassy of the Republic of Liberia in Washington, D.C.
• Melvin P. Foote, Founder and CEO, Constituency for Africa

4:30 p.m. — Audience Q&A
Moderator: Hon. Stanley L. Straughter, Chairman, ACBC

4:45 p.m. — Conclusion
Oshunbumi Fernandez, CEO of Odunde

5:00-7:30 p.m. — Reception, African American Museum

  • Generously sponsored by the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Affairs


Our partners:

African and Caribbean Business Council
Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs

Please note that while there is no fee associated with this event, individual registration via our website is mandatory for attendance in compliance with the Law Enforcement regulations of the Federal Reserve Bank.




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.

Constituency for Africa (CFA)

Since its inception 26 years ago, CFA has become the leading advocacy organization of Africa in the United States. The organization has participated in the following issues in Africa.

  • Trade and Investment
  • Healthcare Infrastructure
  • Democracy and Governance
  • Agriculture
  • Next Generation Leadership
  • Capacity Building
  • Diaspora Engagement

Most recently, CFA has engaged the Trump Administration on its policies toward the African Constituent.

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 Namibia

Namibia, after the Republic of South Africa has one of the most successful and advanced economies on the continent of Africa. Rich in natural resources, agricultural production and intellectual capital there are great opportunities for Philadelphia businesses and organizations. Namibia has strong ties to the Greater Philadelphia region in that many if its past and current leadership attended colleges and universities in Greater Philadelphia. The current Prime Minister attended Lincoln University and has met with firms in the Philadelphia area to discuss increased trade between Namibia producers. Philadelphia firms that are currently trading with businesses in the Republic of South Africa already have direct shipping lines from southern Africa to the ports of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia produce center. Exports to Namibia could open markets to the entire southern Africa region, which included a market of over 300 million consumers and eleven (11) countries.

Event Location

Date: Friday, June 9, 2017 Time: 02:00 PM - 05:00 PM City: Philadelphia Boehne Auditorium Download iCal


H.E. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao

African Union Ambassador to the U.S.A.

H.E. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao is the African Union Ambassador to the United States of America since December 1, 2016. She was nominated by HE Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, to lead the African Union Mission to the USA, the first bilateral diplomatic Mission opened by the AU in 2007.

As the African Union Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Chihombori-Quao is fully committed to reinforcing the longstanding and deep historic, cultural and economic relations between Africa and the U.S. She plays a key role in reinforcing the African Union strategic partnerships with the United States, grounded on shared values and mutual interests. Ambassador Chihombori-Quao is a strong believer in the promise that the African Union-U.S. partnership holds and that a prosperous, peaceful and integrated Africa is a shared strategic interest.

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H.E. Daouda Diabate

Ambassador for the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

A career diplomat, Daouda Diabaté was born January 1, 1948, in Saoundi, which was in the colony of Côte d’Ivoire, which at the time was part of French West Africa, along with Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan (now Mali), French Guinea (now Guinea), Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Dahomey (now Benin) and Niger. He earned a B.A. in English at the National University of Abidjan in 1974, a graduate degree in diplomatic administration at the same university in 1975, and a graduate degree in advanced diplomatic studies from the International Institute for Public Administration and International Relations in Paris, France, in 1976.

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H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba

Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon to the United States of America

Profession: Senior Diplomat

Appointed Ambassador Of The Republic Of Cameroon To The United States Of America On April
Has Presented His Letters Of Credentials To President Obama On June
Appointed Ambassador Of The Republic Of Cameroon To Israel Where He Also Served As The Dean Of The Diplomatic Corps;

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Oshunbumi Fernandez


Celebration, Passion and Persistence….. are the words that come to mind when describing the life of Oshunbumi Fernandez, CEO of ODUNDE, Inc.

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Melvin P. Foote

Founder and President, Constituency for Africa

Mr. Melvin P. Foote has worked on African issues for more than 35 years. He is the Founder and President of the Constituency for Africa, (CFA), a 25-years old Washington, D.C.-based network of organizations, groups and individuals committed to the progress and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide. CFA’s mission is to build public and private support for Africa, and to help shape U.S. policies towards Africa.

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Jeff Gongoer Dowana, Sr.

Charge’ d’Affaires, a.i., Embassy of the Republic of Liberia in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Jeff Gongoer Dowana, Sr. is a veteran diplomat with over 35 years in foreign service for the Government of Liberia. He began his service in 1981 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he rose through the ranks over a span of 10 years in various positions, including Director of Passports and Visas, Director for Administration and briefly Acting Assistant Minister for Administration.

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Donald Rissmiller

Founding 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.

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Robert Scott

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs, US Department of State

Robert Scott is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, covering West African Affairs and Economic and Regional Affairs. Previously he served as the Director for Economic and Regional Affairs in the Department of State’s Africa Bureau, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and as the Deputy Office Director for West African Affairs. Other overseas tours include Ukraine, Germany, France, Ghana, and domestic assignments working on climate change and European security issues.

Mr. Scott joined the Foreign Service in 1994. He received a B.A. from Lawrence University, and has an M.A. in International Relations from American University.

Stanley Straughter

Specialist 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.

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