As a Basketball Africa League player and entrepreneur, D.C. area native Jared Harrington combined his passion for money management and “rebranding Africa. On Dec. 12, a day before the Biden administration’s three-day U.S.-Africa Summit, Harrington hosted “Innovation Now” a networking event that included panels with a clear message: Africa is abundant in wealth, opportunity and resources.
“I’ve seen millions, I’ve seen so much agriculture, so much private equity,” Harrington said in a WIN-TV interview leading up to the event held at Ivy City Smokehouse in Northeast. Harrington founded the event’s sponsor organization Beat the Odds, which teaches the simplistics of financial literacy and has programming in Africa, Mexico and the U.S.
To elaborate on some of the opportunities found throughout Africa, Harrington invited speakers: Rep. Oye Owolewa, shadow representative for D.C. in the U.S. House of Representatives; Julius Mwale of Mwale Medical and Technology City; and Lloyd Ward, CEO and co-founder of Ward Holdings International.
Through the event, Harrington hoped to expose audiences to opportunities in Africa that support those on the continent and awaken Americans to all Africa has to offer.
“We are focused on bridging the gap between African and American business,” said Harrington.
With trips to the continent and people working to trace their African roots on Ancestry.com, Nigerian-American Owolewa said it’s time to put the same enthusiasm behind building business partnerships in Africa.
“We’re trying to match that energy and make sure that our money, resources, our thoughts, our heroes like Jared, our heroes like Lloyd… are able to not only be able to invest in Africa, but bring us with them too.”
“Heroes like Jared… heroes like Lloyd”
Through Beat the Odds, Harrington, 25, helps people see beyond being a consumer.
“We’re focused on relatable literacy…We offer real world examples,” Harrington said.
“I go a lot of places and I say, ‘How many of you people own an iPhone? And everybody raises their hands or stands up,” the basketball player said.
When posing a question about owning Apple stock, he said little to no people stand or raise their hands.
“We’re consumers, when we could be owners,” Harrington added.
Ward, who was the first Black CEO of Maytag and co-founded Ward Holdings International, Ward Holdings Africa and Ward Holdings Tanzania, shared the gems he’s learned through business ventures domestic and abroad.
The company’s namesake said Ward Holdings is all about working to help make the world a better place, specifically focusing on Africa, because the continent “is so important to the future of this world.”
Ward Holdings co-founder and CFO Martin Johnson said the company builds bridges between the U.S., Africa, China, India and other parts of the world. One way they’ve built opportunities is through TanzaNutz, a partnership with Tanzania’s agricultural ministry.
Johnson said Ward knows how to sell products with former executive leadership roles with Maytag, FritoLay, PepsiCo and Procter and Gamble. He explained by virtue of Ward’s background, the duo is confident in the advantage of consumer packaged goods, and implemented that thought with TanzaNutz.
The founders emphasized TanzaNutz will contribute to Tanzania, the country’s farmers and in-country processors. They also plan to pay the company’s Tanzanian employees– 95% of whom are women– competitive rates beyond the $4 to $7 they make now, and offer benefits, retirement and vacations.
“We’ve always said that we will win when Tanzania wins, we will win when Africa wins. Tanzania must win and Africa must win,” Ward said.
Inspiring Other to Invest in Africa
Constance Newton, head of global consumer experience with Ward Holdings International, admitted to not knowing much about the event when she first came from her home in Newark, Delaware. However, after it was over she said the event, “hit the nail on the head.”
“Africa has been lied to for so long,” Newton said. “Everybody goes there with the intention of helping them, but what they do is… they take from them and give little back in return.”
With a background in finance, Newton said Ward Holdings International appealed to her because the company provided jobs and economic opportunities in Africa.
Washingtonian Kimberlyn Baker said she joined Ward Holdings because she “saw the vision,” and “knew it was an opportunity only the Creator could merge,” her with.
People like Ward, Johnson and Harrington work to inspire others like Newton and Baker to visit and invest in Africa.
“We think there’s a movement afoot and we want to help that by bringing more of us back to the Motherland,” Ward said.