How business builds bridges between the US and Africa

The United States and the nations of Africa enjoy a vibrant, multifaceted relationship focused on expanding partnerships, global cooperation, and shared prosperity. These countries also share another powerful bond: people. In the 2020 census, more than 14.4% of Americans self-reported tracing their heritage to the African continent, and these cultural and family ties provide a source of strength in building bridges through business.

Most small businesses do not export, but when they do, they tend to export to the markets closest to them. The reasons to encourage small business owners, who make up 99% of all American entrepreneurs, to consider new markets lie in a staggering statistic: 96% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. However, only one percent of all American companies export, and when they do, these exporters are overwhelmingly small businesses, and nearly half of these firms send most of their goods to Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Japan. in 2019. This makes the African diaspora a powerful force for building bridges and expanding our economic partnership with fast-growing countries across Africa.

The US-Africa Business Center’s mission to expand US-Africa trade and investment led to the launch of Advance with Africa, with its goal of encouraging more US companies – particularly diaspora-led ventures – to play a role in increasing trade flows, educating them to do business in Africa and equipping them with the tools to do so.

The strength of diaspora ties

Recognizing the vital cultural, socioeconomic, and trade ties that connect the United States and Africa through the diaspora, the US government announced the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement (PAC-ADE) during the 2022 US-Africa Leaders Summit. The twelve-member board is made up of government, civil society, philanthropy and business leaders. All have deep expertise working with African partners, including a PepsiCo executive of the US-Africa Business Center.

Given the joint focus of the President’s Advisory Council and the US Chamber on building bridges through business between the US and Africa, the Chamber welcomed a partnership to bring together entrepreneurs at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta under the banner “Thrive with Africa” ​​during the first meeting of the Council. – public meeting sometimes. Atlanta is an ideal location for engaging the diaspora in an African business dialogue. The city is a leader in U.S. small business growth, has a thriving black entrepreneurial community, and its Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport—the busiest in the world—is one of the few in the U.S. with several direct flights to destinations African.

Home to a growing, youthful population, rapidly expanding purchasing power and 11 of the 20 fastest growing countries in 2024, Africa drives innovation through mobile money, sets global trends in music, film and fashion, leads the world in adoption of renewable energy, and supplies the critical minerals that power the next generation of electric vehicles and technology. Through the African Union, an African continental free trade area was launched to remove barriers to intra-African trade, while also consolidating the continent’s 1.3 billion inhabitants into a common market.

Despite the many ways Africa is transforming the world, Africa accounted for less than two percent of total U.S. merchandise trade in 2022. U.S. companies looking to engage with the continent can also benefit from advice and services from companies like our event sponsor in Atlanta. DLA Piper, and the US government’s Prosper Africa initiative. Diaspora business leaders bring a connection to their work with Africa that is about more than business transactions. As Rahama Wright, founder of Shea Yeleen, told the Atlanta business community, “It’s about how we build businesses … and how we can sustain economic impact in a meaningful way.”

How diaspora leaders lead our work

The Centre’s work in advancing trade partnerships is enriched by diaspora business leaders, some of whom serve on our Board and drive the Chamber’s priorities in Africa. The Vice President of the US-Africa Business Center is GB Agboola, CEO and Founder of Flutterwave, a San Francisco and Lagos-based unicorn that simplifies digital payments, allowing both US businesses active in Africa, such as Uber, to easily collect payments from African customers. and supporting remittance transfers from the US to African countries through their Send app. Naana Frimpong, a self-described bridge builder between the US and Africa, is a partner and co-head of the US/Africa practice for DLA Piper, which operates in 20 African countries with the vision of supporting clients in the US and Africa. with their investments they should benefit from the great breadth of opportunities made possible through intentional engagement.

The level of knowledge, cultural understanding and personal connections that diaspora leaders use to inform our work in the Chamber was well understood by the African Union when it designated the global African diaspora as Africa’s sixth region. The same consideration also guides PAC-ADE as they fulfill their mandate, including providing advice to the President on trade, investment and development in Africa. For the nearly 50 million Americans who claim African heritage and small business leaders across the United States looking for new markets and partners for growth, the Chamber’s Advancement with Africa will soon be headed to a city near you.

About the authors

Kendra Gaither

Kendra Gaither

Kendra L. Gaither serves as President for the Africa Division and Executive Director for the Global Markets Rule of Law Coalition at the US Chamber of Commerce.

Read more

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *