the African and Caribbean Business Council of the greater Philadelphia (ACBC)
The vision and mission of the African and Caribbean Business Council of the greater Philadelphia (ACBC) is to promote and preserve the business interests of African and Caribbean entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia area, while bridging the cultural divide between member countries and the larger community through education and the encouragement of mutual tolerance. As an organization, ACBC assumes the role to serve as the real messenger in addressing culturally sensitivities issues of doing business in Africa and the Caribbean. ACBC is the gateway and a catalyst to serve Pennsylvania businesses and companies seeking an entryway into Africa and the Caribbean. A partnership with the State of Pennsylvania is important and this is why we need the support of the Governor. Such support or mandate would propel ACBC even further as evidenced by the following:
The importance of the Agricultural sector cannot be over emphasized, particularly as a source of food for the majority of populations living in rural areas of Africa. The State of Pennsylvania has established itself as a strong leader in this sector; therefore, one of the objectives of ACBC is to facilitate linkages with the State of PA and Africa for the development of appropriate agriculture research and technology, and sustainable management of natural resources such as land. On Thursday, January 14th 2016 Dr. Roger Kounga, (ACBC President) and Victoria Senome, (Member) organized and collaborated the attendance of 6 African Ambassadors to the 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show held at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. We were pleased that the Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding made time to meet the delegation. Much gratitude was expressed towards Thomas Mainzer III (Agricultural Trade Specialist, Bureau of Market Development) for facilitating this meeting. We are glad to still be in communication with Mr Mainzer. The Ambassadors expressed incredible interest in Pennsylvania livestock, poultry and horticulture.
To this day, inquiries are still being made on how to further engage with the State to further emulate successful farm practices, especially in cattle production, training and improvement of agricultural productivity.
With key facilitation and hands-on ACBC involvement, a Pennsylvania company was able to set up a comprehensive integrated waste management system that incorporates a waste to energy power plant for $120 million US dollars in Bamako, Mali Africa. Three weeks ago, ACBC organized a meeting with Botswana’s Minister of Energy and CEO of a leading solar company for opportunities to develop solar energy in that country. The huge power gaps in the continent create a massive opportunity for Power companies in the State of PA to advance further to market their expertise (training) and technological know-how beyond national borders. Additionally, ACBC has placed efforts to help a York based Pennsylvania company, the International Water Company, to identify markets for its products in Africa. The Company manufactures water purification solutions for mobile and stationary applications for municipal, defense, strategic, emergency and disaster relief. Products are engineered to be self-contained, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
ACBC have led very successful trade missions
ACBC have led very successful trade missions on behalf of the State of Pennsylvania Dept. of Community and Economic Development to Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, and Trinidad and Tobago with outstanding outcomes. These trade missions that are supported by the State tremendously increased port activities, trade and exports and brought new revenues. Trade Missions to Cameroon and Gabon, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Botswana in the past were hugely successful with commanding results.
• More than 300 appointments through B2B and individual meetings in Cameroon and 5 MOU’s were signed.
• Because of that trade mission, the governments of Cameroon visited Philadelphia twice for a transaction of $400 million in infrastructure equipment, with Mack Truck, Schramm Drilling West Chester, Pennsylvania, caterpillar project carry by one of the trade mission participant, the deal still ongoing because of some political negotiation, however coming for visit study twice is a good sign that they prefer Pennsylvania Good and services. We believe there are still many untapped opportunities for innovative companies willing to explore niche areas and provide high quality goods on par with imports from larger international suppliers.”
• The biggest micro-finance company in Cameroon, Ovamba which employs over 200 people, was a participant in this trade mission.
• In Gabon, about 120 appointments were secured through B2B and individual meetings were recorded.
• In Cameroon and Gabon, immediate export sales of about $431,000 USD was reported through instant orders in healthcare, coating materials, commodities and corrugated roofing materials.
• There were 5 partnerships and distribution agreements signed.
• There is additional potential of about $300 million US dollars in total transaction through the provision of services and implementable projects in equipment, waste management, solar energy, medical devices and housing.
• Financing a waste to energy project using wood and other biomass in collaboration with Timberwolf – project size $60 million
• Providing financing for an airline company – project size $20 million working capital
• Implementing a social project in education titled “one student one computer” – project size $5 million US dollars
• Implementing a student housing project – size $40 million US dollars
• Undertaking a social housing project for $85 million US dollars
• A comprehensive integrated waste management system that incorporates a waste to energy power plant for $120 million US dollars.
• There other opportunities in solar energy street lighting, training and solar village as well as medical devices facility.
Achieving these results was the main reason for the trade mission and its effects in creating new revenues. Therefore from the given successes, we conclude that there is an imminent need to expand trade and export goods and services across the Continent of Africa. The feedback derived from Small and Medium Size Enterprises is that Africa has tried China for over 10 years, however, it is understood that Chinese products offer less quality compared to US products. Research also shows that African clients are willing to spend 25% premium for American Goods and services. ACBC hosted a return trade mission in two consecutive years from the government of Burkina Faso lead respectively by the Minister of Industry, and secondly by the President of the chamber of commerce. A delegation made by 25 business owners. The intention was to uncover more opportunities for Burkina Faso exporters and further enhance the development of trade relations, joint ventures and other investments which could yield economic gains for both countries. In October 9, 2013 ACBC brought 15 CARICOM Ambassadors from Washington D.C on a road tour to meet the Governor of Delaware and business leaders in Wilmington and Philadelphia. They are eager to engage and do business with Delaware and Pennsylvania States and increase trade and export. This is an important area in maximizing new revenues. All in all, as an Organization, we have continually promoted international trade and investments between Africa, the Caribbean and Philadelphia region for the past 8 years. We conclude that much awareness has been raised in both Africa and the Caribbean that the State of Pennsylvania is the State of destination to do Business. This may be partially evidenced by the state’s GDP growth compared to whole world. Ultimately, with the anticipated support of the Governor’s office, one major organizational goal for ACBC is to fund an African Trade Resources Center (ATRC) in Philadelphia.
Community engagement and Business Assistance Center
Community engagement and Business Assistance Center are major focus of ACBC. During census 2010, ACBC participated and ensured African and Caribbean communities were counted. This mission was led by Dr. Azuka as chairman of the African complete count committee and Chris Chaplin served as the chair of Caribbean complete count committee during census 2010. We massively organized the African and Caribbean communities and achieved, for the first time, a recorded census count of our constituency. We believed this effort is responsible for the nominal increase in Philadelphia population in 60 years.
We also conducted the biggest voter’s registration drive and ensured our immigrant community votes matter in a major Get Out and Vote Initiatives. Recently we applied for a matching grant fund through the Economic Development Administration (EDA), with the goal to open the African and Caribbean Business Assistance Center (ACBAC). The project is designed to tackle the root causes of technical challenges facing underserved and disadvantaged microenterprises and small businesses (especially immigrant and refugee-owned businesses with culture sensitivity) in West Philadelphia. These challenges often hinder entrepreneurs and business owner’s ability to start-up, stabilize, or grow their businesses in West Philadelphia.
This project will provide business technical support in a culturally competent manner to 70 underserved and disadvantaged businesses in West Philadelphia, especially immigrant-owned, refugee-owned, women-owned, and other minority owned businesses. Technical assistance would include the following:
- Improving existing businesses and create new ones.
- Ensure adequate training, knowledge of access to capital, marketing and organization. African and Caribbean
This will create jobs and increase revenue to the State.
In 2013, ACBC developed a charter of The First Africa Carb Credit Union, the first of its kind in the State. Progress for this charter is still underway, and the developments offer great promises
Community engagement efforts by ACBC were further solidified in 2014, when the Organization raised $1.5 million in donations to assist in the Liberia Ebola outbreak.
In 2012, the African Caribbean Business Council, in partnership with Entrepreneur works, launched a business mentoring Program aimed at offering technical assistance and access to funding to member organizations. The Business Mentoring program initially comprised of three businesses selected from the African business community and two from the Caribbean business community.
In 2016, at the 7th ACBC Winter Awards Dinner in Philadelphia a memoreandum of understanding was signed between the ACBC and the Africa Union Diaspora Africa Forum led by Her Excellency Ambassador Erieka Bennett.
we were able to communicate with eight Chambers of commerce in Africa. In collaboration with South Sahara chamber of commerce we hosted the Premier Minister of Namibia. We also hosted the Minister of Tourism of Ghana in collaboration with US Ghana Chamber of commerce. Last month we received the President of the Chamber of commerce and industry of Mali. Back in April, we hosted a week long business delegation of Guinea lead by the minister of environment and water of the republic of Guinea.