The Trade with Africa Business Summit 2018 is the inaugural event that convenes global business leaders, innovators and change agents driving sustainable agriculture, global trade, digital acceleration, and women empowerment on the continent of Africa. It aims to create trade linkages by bringing together business leaders and their supporting service providers from U.S. and African countries to engage in actionable dialog that will accelerate economic growth for both regions. THANDISIZWE MGUDLWA, spoke to Toyin Umesiri the convener and host of this event. Toyin is the Founder & CEO of Nazaru LLC, a U.S. based company that is focused on increasing U.S. and Africa trade.
1. What is the ‘Trade with Africa Business Summit 2018’ event all about?
We know that African countries are racing to strengthen economic ties with various regions around the world to drive increased economic growth, job creation and diversification of investment. For the past 20 years the primary vehicle for U.S. engagement in Africa has leaned heavily towards foreign aid and I believe now is the time for U.S. businesses to play a more significant role to secure mutually beneficial business partnerships.
Trade with Africa Business Summit is focused on bringing this much needed conversation on Africa to “corporate America”. With the population rise on the continent of Africa and the projected economic growth, U.S. businesses should lean in further to participate commercially in the economic growth that is occurring. Africa is home to over 1 billion people with a strong youth population and a rapidly growing productive workforce. Africa can no longer be ignored or seen as a region of only war, famine and disease and by 2050 it is projected that Africa would have doubled its population. For those that are actively involved already this is a not a secret however there is a significant portion of corporate America that is heavily misinformed about Africa. The Trade with Africa Business Summit is an active step to engage U.S. and African businesses in actionable dialog to accelerate economic growth for both regions.
The inaugural event taking place on May 10th and 11th of 2018 will be held in Bentonville, Arkansas. Bentonville is the home town of the largest retailer: Walmart, and is a thriving trade and economic hub and hence the perfect location to establish new trade opportunities.
2. Who should attend and what are the benefits?
The benefits of attending are multifold; For Bentonville and U.S. based businesses it serves to showcase the vast opportunities in Africa, create linkages where they could either export to or source goods from under favorable trade policies, and allow for an opportunity to address with high-level officials critical concerns or impediments to doing business. For African Exporters, business leaders and Governments leaders, it would offer an opportunity to promote their country, help expand the offerings under AGOA, create jobs, and increase investment. For African businesses, it will also get them within proximity to the largest importers, help prepare them to pitch their goods, and open a pipeline that can then be continued through sustainable business partnerships. This event also positions the state of Arkansas as a favorable destination for African business & political leaders looking to create partnerships with the U.S.
3. What is the exact relation between ‘Trade with Africa Business Summit 2018 and Nazaru LLC?
The Trade with Africa Business Summit is a production of Nazaru LLC. The event is being executed in partnership and support of key organization like the World Trade Center and USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub. We know that creating productive dialogue starts by highlighting the strengths that Africa has to offer U.S. investors looking to partner on the continent. There is currently opportunities yet untapped particularly in the small-medium business communities in Africa as well as the U.S. We are creating an all-encompassing one-stop shop where SMEs Large Scale organizations across Africa and the United States can find answers and solutions to trade.
4. As the CEO of Nazaru, what are the most notable experiences you have encountered in relation to hosting Trade with Africa Business Summit?
When it comes to U.S. trade with Africa, creating awareness is key. Unfortunately many still do not realize that there is a functioning side to Africa and there is a growing segment that is on the rise to claim global significance in years to come. If U.S. media will dedicate resources to highlighting these stories it will significantly benefit both regions. Many do not know what success looks like.
In 2000, the United States established the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to support U.S. trade with Africa. Although some level of success has been accomplished, U.S. still engages at less than 2% of total global trade with Sub-Saharan Africa. On the U.S. side there are several constraints including lack of awareness, supporting business data, and misconception and information gap. On the African side there is lack of information related to available business partnerships and opportunities for African businesses as well as education on ways to secure investments needed to build the level of capacity required to meet U.S. standards.
We are creating a platforms that allows business executives to hear from other leaders that are actively investing on what is working and to also become aware of what the investment opportunities are. With focus on positively impacting Agriculture, Technology, Education and Health sectors we also help address questions like “What does Africa need?” “What are the technical expertise required to FastTrack economic growth? “And where are the high growth areas?” We want people to know how to engage strategically and also how to view the region within reward-risk framework.
5. Are there any obstacles standing in the way of both Nazaru and the Trade with Africa Business Summit achieving their aims and objectives?
We have the support of major stakeholders and we are now focused on getting the word out as we want more people to get involved
6 Do you have any additional information you would like to share with the public?
In partnership with the tourism board of the city of Bentonville we are looking forward to hosting U.S. and African business leaders, Government agencies & service providers, exporters, commodity Buyers, non for profit organizations with interests in the region, “Africans in diaspora” and friends of Africa looking to reconnect with the region.