African Caribbean Business Council coHost African Heritage & Cultural Night with NBA

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

The second annual African and Caribbean Business Council Heritage Night event was held at Wells Fargo Arena, on March 29, 2017,  in conjunction with the NBA's 76ers and other local and international organizations.  Mounting on the success of the first event, which was held in 2016, the thrust is to expand interaction and business collaborations between the ACBC and the NBA and their 76ers Franchise.  

The Hon. Stanley L. Straughter hosted the ACBC/NBA Night of Heritage event at the Wells Fargo Arena

The event was held at the Wells Fargo Arena and started prior to the game between the 76ers and the Atlanta SeaHawks, in a small private meeting room adjacent to the stadium. 

Hosted by the Hon. Stanley Straughter, and Co-cordinated by Nick Toland, 76ers director of public affairs,  participants from Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Philadelphia City Government, parts of the Caribbean and African American participants were brought up to date on developments in different parts of Africa and the Caribbean subsequent to the 2016 election; as well as business opportunities and options in Philadelphia. 

Nick Toland, NBA/76ers Public Affairs Manager 

The African and Caribbean Business Council (ACBC) has organized the Ghana Chamber, the Mali Chamber, the Ivorian Chamber, works with the Haitian community, and also the Camarounian Chamber, as well as the Jamaican Trade Council of Greater Philadelphia. 

According to Straughter, "We were trying to organize the event in such a way that our entire collaborative effort, along with the African Diasporian effort in Philadelphia, is not only meaningful, but substantive in the fact that we can get things done. We can get to almost any country in Africa; we have also signed a MOU with the African Union, the African Diasporian Forum  that will give us access to many countries.  So we are making this happen for all our people and traveling with us and have them set up businesses and offices in Philadelphia."

The Hon. Jannie Blackwell,City Council Member & Chair of Mayor's Commission on Africa and the Caribbean in Philadelphia , enjoying the 76ers game after the meeting.

Ms. Natalie Jackson spoke about what Mayor Kenney is doing to enhance international business relations in Philadelphia, "We at the City of Philadelphia, not only under the leadership of Mayor Kenney, but Harold Epps, take the international population very seriously.  The thing is that people of color were not applying to some of the commerce profit programs.  If they were applying, they were not getting the grants.  Either it was the translation, they didn't know the information - so what we have done is develop a program that's targeted at immigrants. 


It's a $50,000 grant, forgivable grant to either the instore or the business; we also have a storefront improvement grant, which is $15,000 with a 15% match - to improve the appearance of the storefront of the business. What we have done is hire a coach to go out to the business and look at their marketing, their business plans; look at their finances.  For as long as they apply for these programs they are awarded these grants - one of our first cases is on Woodland Ave., we have completely redone the storefront, we've spoke into marketing; and now she's had an increase in revenue, we're looking at next steps.  So I just want to let you know that we are taking this very seriously.  We want more people who look like us to get some of this money because it's green; and we want them to participate in the City of Philadelphia programs.  I as the director of Business Technical Assistance and Program Training, would be the person who has to run that program, and would be the person that, if you have any questions.  I thank you from the City of Philadelphia, and the Department of Commerce. "

She contented  "Dr. Azuka mentioned Camaroun, and Douala, Philadelphia's sister city. And this year, we're having an inbound delegation to Philadelphia with the Mayor of Douala and other business leaders. The director of commerce, Harold Epps, has agreed to a return visit to Ghana with Dr. Quartey - we're working out the mechanics and logistics of that.  I will keep everybody informed - say listen Stan, I want to go; so it's up to us.  On April 13 and 14, the incumbent vice president of Liberia will be here - we're trying to get him arranged to go to City Council meeting, so I'll keep you posted.  We will also a little business round table with him as well, about who we are and what we're doing.  We're asking for $150,000 to match our African Caribbean resource center that we're putting in; so that's pending and I keep talking to them.  They know that we're interested, but giving us a letter of support that Dr. Azuka's taken we can't say anything bad about him." 

Rebekar Marler of Mastermind Coaching Solutions, is engaged in an initiative in Ghana, Liberia, and other places, is serving as one of the co-sponsors of the ACBC/NBA Heritage Event.   According to Marlowe, "We were asked to go to some large financial training firms in the area in the fall.  We fell in love with the clients, had a great experience, and as an outgrowth of that we're been working with them in leadership coaching and consulting.   

Rebekar Marler of Mastermind Coaching Solutions 

She continued, "What's different about us in terms of executive coaching - but people believe that no matter where you go people need more in their lives than work.  The research is showing what people are looking for, even though jobs are so hard to come by,  people are looking for a place where they can make meaning.  Where they actually feel invested, and feel like more of their needs are met - it's not just about the money.  It's not just the carrot at the end of the stick.  And what's interesting is how millennials are creating this push in that direction. So this is the first time in history we have four different generations in the workplace at the same time; and it's creating an opportunity to really help people see what it means to work together in teams - to actually work with each other.  It's a people-first philosophy.  And it's great to have coaching - but how do you actually coach and create a culture in a way so that everyone, people on the front line, middle management, and the streets get the benefit.  The reason our name is coaching solutions, not just coaching individuals - helping people create cultures where everyone feels like they matter.  The way that we meet our needs is not so hard to come by - it's how we connect to other people and how we feel supported and valued in our work."

Dr. Quartey of Ghana, and founding Chairman of the ACBC, and a very dynamic contributing member, stated:  "We have been doing trade missions to Gabon, Nigeria, and other parts of Africa and the Caribbean.  We are hoping that this year we will get the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, to Philadelphia.  I sent a delegation to Ghana last week; they met with him, and he's agreed to come. So I have to schedule the time that he will be coming," he stated enthusiastically

Dr. Quartey of Ghana Announcing a Presidential Visit from Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo to Philadelphia and to Lincoln University, Alma Mater of Kwame Nkrumah, in the fall

"We are now collaborating with Lincoln University.  I don't want to give you details of what we are doing, but he's coming to Philly and he will be at Lincoln University.  You know that our founder of Ghana went to Lincoln University, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. So just keep your ears open, and we'll let you know when the President is coming.  He will be the only President from Africa to come to Philadelphia on a governmental mission.   One time I had President JJ Rawlings was here; but he came here as my invitee, so the government wasn't that much involved, but the State did a lot for him - they had a big dinner for JJ Rawlings.  I had a problem with the mayor.  The mayor said he didn't invite him - so he didn't receive him. I'm not a politician, I'm always in the background - plus politicians sometimes, I don't know how they think.  I just want to make sure that you know that the President of Ghana is coming to Philadelphia."
Keynote speaker, Ambassador Dr. Robin Renee Sanders spoke eloquently on the current development in Africa and the need for sustainability. Highlighting the necessity for the development of small and medium sized business enterprises, and home grown businesses in Africa, she discussed the potential for economic empowerment government support across the continent was forthcoming. Having just completed a comprehensive book entitled "THE RISE OF AFRICA'S SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZE ENTERPRISES: Spurring Development & Growing the Middle Class."  PhD in Information Systems and Communication - and a Masters in Political Science

Ambassador Dr. Robin Renee Sanders 

Sanders has served as head of the National Security Council at the White House; served under both the Bush and Clinton Administrations, and has served with every president over the past twenty years.  She has served at the Wharton College, served as the US Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo and Nigeria; guest speaker on African issues on CNN and the news media.  
As she addressed the audience, she started by saying: "Notice that I say "Africa" not "African" - which was strategic in my concept - because I wanted to include everybody that has a connection with the Continent - whether you are here, live on the Continent, in the Caribbean - wherever you are, you are part of the Greater Africa Community."
She further stated that until recently, most of the conversations she's had about Africa's progress has been bad news, but very little in the way of the good news ever reaches the public.  The focus on SME's or income generating projects.  

Stan Straughter with ACBCVice-Ptesident Kayode Malomo following the workshop at the 76ers Game

NOTE:  SME stands for Small and Medium sized Enterprises 
She noted that people generally  ignored how much money that was spent in the post independent period on the governments,  did not have any overall impact on job creation and cutting the poverty level.  In the post independent period of 40 years, from 1960 to 2000, $235 trillion dollars has been spent on development.
Starting in 2000 there was a pivot in development in Africa driven by Generation Xers and followed by Millennials - they saw a developmental void, difficult to find jobs, to obtain credit.  The development paradigm took place they decided to design their own work force and quality of life for themselves and their families. 

The message is that we - Africans, African Americans, Caribbeans and those of African heritage is that we have to define our own lives and our own way forward.

They created new applications and new tools to address some of the age old development issues.   She calls the pivot the FUTUREMORROW - looking at the future and tomorrow - combining those two and looking to develop a different paradigm.  "We don't want to work for somebody necessarily, but to find a way to change our quality of life." Business aiding development - business mindset helping on the development side, where they make money, but continue coming back to the community.  

Population of the Continent is approximately 1.1 billion people.  How do you help people get out of poverty and stay out of poverty.  The definition of Middle Class in Africa is a lot different than in the Western world, where their criteria is as little as $4.00 per day income - which, if anything happens to impact that meagre amount, the family is forced back into the level of poverty.  

Among the major issues covered in her talk were the concepts of Africans developing their own homegrown businesses - and making sure that they are sustainable - so they can employ other Africans to expand the programs.

In questioning her about some of the concerns of events taking place in Africa, the subject of the presence came up, but was not covered adequately.  Additionally the concept of teaching Africans technology by sending them to get their training in Japan, which was significantly more technologically advanced, and more involved with teaching quality control - as a way of beginning to develop their own rich  resources was also broached.
According to the Ambassador, "While social media has had the greatest impacts on development of SMEs;  the technological impact was not sufficient, at this juncture to sustain the economy."  However these are issues that can be addressed and resolved in the future.  

Ambassador Sanders book, THE RISE OF AFRICA'S SMALL AND MEDIU SIZED ENTERPRISES: Spurring Development & Growing the Middle Class," is a comprehensive overview with recommendations and analyses on the future of Africa as it continues to expand and grow into the 21st Century.  

She consistently cites and applauds the efforts being made in Rwanda, where they now have MADE IN RWANDA FRIDAYS, featuring home grown and designed products for sale.  She also cites South Africa where the small businesses now host annual expose, called the MAKHELEWANE FESTIVAL  where private homes are turned into business stalls for the day, and people purchases from their neighbors.   Somalia, likewise, has created an Entrepreneur of the Year Award, to encourage individual business development.  

She states:  "Bottom line, what I am calling for is an Africa SME Strategic Plan (SSP)  where all organizations, done countries, foundations, and private sector entities have a universally agreed-upon approach to assist Africa's SME's.

Among the many other recommendations, the cited these as paramount:
1) Longer Term mentoring programs (2 - 3 years;
2) Increased creative credit mechanisms such as warehouse financing, lower and tiered loan and insurance programs;
3) Fixed partnerships with US Businesses in similar sectors (I would also ad Japanese businesses )
4) Targeted regional and foreign export opportunities
5)  Regionally based industry clusters/SEZs (a big center per REC area)
6. Increased assistance to move more SMEs from the informal to the formal sector
7) Increased capacity building and training
8) Comprehensive technological and vocational training programs started at the school level, as well as specialized training programs for adults who missed the opportunity of attending a school. 

Following the meeting, everyone headed for a private box to enjoy the 76ers and some Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.
Philadelphia 76er vs. The Atlanta Sea Hawks  

The third annual ACBC / NBA event will  be held in 2018.  It would be a great idea to calendar it in so that you are included in the event.  In the interim, please attend the Mayor's commission on African and Caribbean the second Wednesday of each month at City Hall - 6 PM to 8 PM, and become involved in the many activities that are ongoing in working with the African, Caribbean and African American communities of Philadelphia.

Now that you know 
What Are You Going to Do About It?

Stay Blessed & 

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