African and Caribbean Ambassadors Meet with Area Business Leaders

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, for GPA -- Ambassadors from several African and Caribbean countries joined with Philadelphia area regional business leaders Friday, November 11, 2011, when the Penn Museum was host to a business roundtable discussion presented by the African and Caribbean Business Council (ACBC). The program ran throughout the morning, concluding with an African-style luncheon in the Museum's Lower Egyptian Gallery, catered by Kilimandjaro Restaurant of West Philadelphia, followed by an opportunity to view the Museum's Imagine Africa gallery project and the African gallery.

The theme for the roundtable program, attended by about 100 people, was “Driving Economic Development and Building Access to the Global Market.”

According to the President of the ACBC, Dr. Azuka Anyiam, the visiting Ambassadors were not only impressed by – and “felt at home” in – Penn Museum’s African collection, but they were also grateful for the opportunity to interact with potential investors in key industry areas such as energy, environment, housing, mining, and agriculture. These meetings were so successful, in fact, that the African and Caribbean Business Council, organizers of the event, were invited on four trade missions in 2012 to the following countries: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Trinidad and Tobago, and Ghana.

As one observer to the event noted, “Africa is open for business;” it is fertile ground for investments from American firms. Dr. Anyiam notes that such investments not only are good for African and Caribbean businesses, but the promotion of trade between the continents and regions helps to create jobs here in the United States.

The ACBC collaborated with Global Philadelphia Association member World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, as well as the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the State Department for Community and Economic Development, in organizing this event.

The morning event was followed by an evening ceremony, which the Ambassadors also attended. In this ceremony, ACBC honored specific African and Caribbean business leaders for the great strides they’ve made in economic development, innovation, and entrenpreneurship.

At this event, Dr. Anyiam announced that the ACBC has received preliminary approval to establish the Africarib Credit Union, which will be “the first credit union established in Philadelphia and the United States by an organization that represents the combined efforts of the African and Caribbean community.”

The ACBC was founded in 2006 with the goal of promoting African and Caribbean businesses and entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia region. Today, African businesses owned and operated by African and Caribbean community members number more than 3,000 in the Greater Philadelphia area.

The ACBC hosts a number of programs to support the further development of community business initiatives, including a new mentorship program that pairs up-and-coming entrepreneurs with established business leaders to help provide the training and support they need for growth. The ACBC has also made great strides in organizing the African and Caribbean communities around issues of voters’ rights and representation. Recently, the ACBC led an effort to ensure that African and Caribbean families were counted in the 2010 census, an event that was so successful, Philadelphia’s population numbers grew, according to the Census, for the first time in 40 years.

For more on the important connections established during the Penn Museum / ACBC event, please consult this Philadelphia Tribune article and this story printed in the South Florida Caribbean News.

For more pictures from the event, as well as captions identifying the personages displayed, please visit the Penn Musem Flickr page.

Global Philadelphia Association wishes to thank The Penn Museum, Dr. Anyiam, and the Philadelphia Tribune for their contributions to this story.