Beyond the Rhetoric

It’s Time to do Business with Africa

By Harry C. Alford
NNPA Columnist

For the love of Africa, we must commit to becoming a unified Diaspora. That unity cannot happen without economic engagement. Booker T. Washington told us more than 100 years ago that if we start our own businesses and begin to do business with each other; not only will we survive but indeed prosper. We should adhere to his wisdom and make it so that it becomes a campaign to incubate businesses wherever we are and start doing business with each other globally. I am talking about trade and investment throughout the African Diaspora that will create jobs, healthcare, infrastructure and wealth.

The land of our origin is blessed with more natural resources than any other continent on this earth. It is only fitting for us to use that as a basis for our new found entrepreneurship. Every child of African descent should have a focus on doing business in some form with Africa and creating business relationships with business persons from Africa. That will be the key to our commonality.

There are 1 billion souls on the continent of Africa. South America possesses more than 150 million members of the African Diaspora. North America approaches 50 million and the Caribbean is predominantly Black. Then there is the issue of adequate representation within the populations of other continents. One thing, unfortunately, is common in most places: members of the African Diaspora are on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. This must change but it will not change until we communicate with one another; share best practices and spend our money with one another.

This year will be known as the Year of Organization. We will be participating in a series of summits and conventions that will organize our entrepreneurs and put them on the same page. We will constantly call out to the African Diaspora and begin this process.

The following are the events we are scheduling:

National Black Chamber of Commerce 20th Annual Convention, Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta, GA July 19 – 21, 2012. The theme is “Good Policies Lead to a Great Economy”. This event will be packed full of content including a matchmaker for our members and over 100 entrepreneurs from Africa (mainly Botswana). Don’t miss this.

Trans-Atlantic International Trade and Investment Symposium, Aug. 1, 2012, Hilton Trinidad, Trinidad-Tobago: This event will gather entrepreneurs from North America, South America (inclusive of the Caribbean) and Africa. The theme is “Reinventing the Triangle” (revolving interaction among the three continents). NBCC President/CEO Harry C. Alford will give the keynote address at this historical event. More details to follow shortly.

Leon H. Sullivan Summit IX, August 20 – 24, 2012, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: The NBCC aims to populate this summit with our members with the intent of learning the business environment of each sub-Saharan African nation with representatives at this very popular event. Standard charter delegate packages start at $2,012, which includes coach airfare, hotel double occupancy, official Summit meals, and Summit events. Why Equatorial Guinea? There you will experience the natural wonders of The Gulf of Guinea courtesy of the Equatorial Guinean government and the Equatorial Guinean Tourist Board. Renowned for its many exotic beaches and forests, Equatorial Guinea offers something new and exciting to discover for both the new and the most seasoned explorers.

NBCC Trade Mission to Ethiopia, mid–September, 2012: This nation with the second-largest population in Africa is opening up its economy and is becoming a true free market. It is rich in resources and is cultivating a new entrepreneurial class. Let’s go and meet them. Fly with us on the classy Ethiopian Air Lines and visit the historical city of Addis Ababa. The history of the nation is recorded in the Bible and dates back to the pharaohs of Egypt. Exact details will follow soon.

The First PanAfrican Entrepreneurs Conference, November 15 – 17, 2012, Four Seasons Hotel, Houston, TX: Our sister organization will make its debut with a bang. The intent is to organize PanAfrican entrepreneurs and set policy, issue positions and initiatives that relate to trade, business development and wealth building where African Diaspora populations exist. Delegates will meet via online and at regular occasions. At the November conference, we will assess our progress and reset our agenda for next year. We are developing a Web site,, which will be available in various languages, including Swahili.

Post Conference Trade Mission to Zambia, Nov. 21 – 26, 2012, Lusaka, Zambia: This event will take the momentum from the Houston conference and begin applying it to one of the most stable nations on the continent of Africa. The English speaking nation has a dynamic American Chamber of Commerce and we are working with this office to ensure a viable, serious business experience with results. More details to follow.

Harry Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email:

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