Archive for the ‘Doing Business in Africa’ Category


Investor Roadshow Brings Together Capital & Opportunity

October 2, 2015

Stefan Selig, Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration. This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Last week, I was in New York City to launch the United States-Africa Institutional Investor Roadshow, an important move towards strengthening the United States’ commercial engagement with Africa. I felt honored to join Prime Minister Hailemariam, Prime Minister Jugnauth and President Kenyatta, not to mention the dozens of delegation members representing Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius,  Mozambique, Rwanda, Cote d’ Ivoire and the African Union. The presence and participation of these delegations was absolutely critical to the success of this inaugural roadshow.


U/S Selig joins delegation members in NYC to kick off the US-Africa Investor Roadshow

It is no secret that the United States and the nations of Africa are mutual stakeholders in each other’s commercial success.  But there is an enormous amount of untapped potential in our commercial engagement with Africa. It is the second fastest growing region in the world today. Some of the world’s fastest growing economies are in sub-Saharan Africa.  And this part of the world will feature a middle class of one billion people within the next 25 years, and a quarter of the global workforce in a generation. But despite this, only 0.01% of the roughly $79 trillion in assets managed by institutional investors in OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)  are allocated to investments in Africa.

One critical reason is, quite simply, a lack of good information according to the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) ,which is charged with advising the President through Secretary Pritzker on strengthening U.S.-Africa commercial engagement. A recent PAC-DBIA report stated that many of the challenges to investment and expanding access to credit in sub-Saharan Africa related to “misperceptions of risk and knowledge gaps of the Africa market opportunities” and “identifying and mitigating actual market risks.” So a critical force that is needed to attract capital to opportunity and to attract opportunity to capital is precisely what has been missing so far: good information. Having worked in the private sector for nearly 30 years, I keenly understand that for our businesses to maximize investment opportunities abroad, our information must be transparent, widely accessible and instill trust and confidence in the African market.

This roadshow represents a platform to bridge this information gap. During my visit, I was able to take part in several roundtable discussions with the American business community and African leaders on topics such as investor risk concerns. These types of discussions deepen our U.S.-Africa commercial partnerships on the basis of trust and shared values.

As this launch event leads to a series of high-level stops throughout Africa in the future, we will continue our efforts to bridge the information gap to spur new trade and investment opportunities. And In the long-term, this roadshow will forge a partnership between the U.S. and African public and private sectors, bringing together capital and opportunity. I am thrilled that we are one step closer to our long term goal of creating investment climates that attract capital.


Trade Winds—Africa: Taking the Next Step in U.S.-Africa Business Relations

September 14, 2015

Tanya Cole is the Senior U.S. Commercial Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Today in Ethiopia and in four other growing African markets, 10 U.S. companies are exploring opportunities to do business in Africa. These five simultaneous trade missions are all part of Trade Winds—Africa, the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to the continent, ultimately bringing more than 100 U.S. companies to eight growing African markets.

Ambassador to Ethiopia

Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach says Ethiopia is a leader in economic development in Africa

For the ten companies that came to Ethiopia as part of Trade Winds, we were able to connect them directly to business development opportunities here on the ground. These are promising opportunities in sectors ranging from IT security to health and beauty products.

As a commercial officer in Ethiopia, it’s easy to see why U.S. companies consider Africa a promising market. Sub-Saharan Africa is the second-fastest growing region in the world. Ethiopia’s average GDP growth during the last five years has been higher than 7 percent, and the country’s strategic location, stable security, and low corruption make it stand out. The country has shown its commitment to economic growth, and the United States is showing its commitment to support that growth.

What also makes Ethiopia an attractive market is that companies doing business here have the opportunity to make an important impact on a developing country. As H.E. Ambassador to the United States Girma Birru said in February, African leaders and consumers are ready to do business with the United States. They recognize the quality of American goods and services, and they know that American companies help develop infrastructure, create trained workforces, and focus on corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Our Commercial Service team here in Addis Ababa is excited to see how our ten attending companies will build on this mission. We are grateful for the support we received from our partners at the State Department and the Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center in making this mission a success — especially the support of Ambassador Haslach, who is welcoming the first certified Commerce trade mission since opening the new U.S. Commercial Service office in the Embassy to Ethiopia.

I am confident that all 100-plus companies attending Trade Winds—Africa will find learn some great market intelligence, make important business connections, and find the kind of inroads that can help them succeed in Africa. I look forward to the next steps in growing the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship, and to continuing to work with U.S. companies and the country of Ethiopia to develop mutual benefit.

You can follow updates about Trade Winds on Twitter using #TradeWinds15, and you can learn more about doing business in Africa at


Fox School of Business Partnering up for Trade Winds—Africa

September 3, 2015

This is a guest blog. Rebecca Geffner is Director of International and Executive Programs and the Center for International Business Education and Research at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, a Marketing Partner for Trade Winds—Africa. 

 Rebecca Geffner

Rebecca Geffner is a Director at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, a Marketing Partner for Trade Winds—Africa.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Temple University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) focuses on increasing U.S. competitiveness overseas.  In order to fulfill this mandate, we continue to support programming and other efforts that encourage local business to trade and amplify their potential in global markets.

With existing relationships already in place in Ghana and Morocco, we at Temple CIBER and the Fox School of Business recognize the importance of Africa in the global arena and know that the opportunities for business around the continent are plenty as Africa’s “emergence” continues to be front and center.

We will be participating in Trade Winds—Africa this year as a marketing partner in order to encourage and support our business community in their efforts to expand their trading partnerships with African businesses.

I am looking forward to meeting all of the participants at the conference in South Africa to exchange ideas and also to bring home takeaways for our business students on the significance of the U.S.’s increasing presence in Africa.

At Fox, we are committed to providing a student-centered education and professional development relevant to today’s digital, global economy.  As future business leaders, our students must understand the needs, the opportunities and the climate of business in the region and truly gain a perspective on how some of the fastest growing economies in the world are centered in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I am also excited to meet new university partners and representatives from the embassies to discuss opportunities to further cross cultural dialogue and exchange programs and projects for our business students.

Temple CIBER and the Fox School are delighted to be working with our longstanding partners at the U.S. Commercial Service on this event and hope to see many businesses within the Philadelphia region participate in this important event.

Safe travels and see you in Johannesburg!


Partnering to Bring More Businesses to Some of the World’s Most Promising Markets

August 12, 2015

Denis Csizmadia is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Assistance Center in Greenville, SC.

I’ll be blunt: we are about five weeks away from one of the most important trade missions in U.S. history.

Trade Winds—Africa will be the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to the continent, and the U.S. Commercial Service will connect more than 100 companies to business opportunities in eight of the world’s fastest-growing markets.

We’ll have local market experts, Fortune 500 companies that are already succeeding on the continent, innovative U.S. small businesses, and key government decision-makers all under one roof and with one objective: to connect U.S. companies to the most promising business opportunities on the continent.

The best part is, your company can have its name and logo all over it.

We’re currently recruiting Marketing Partners to join the mission and be a part of our Business Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa. Representatives from your company can join the Forum and receive all the benefits of attendees, plus additional benefits as a marketing partner:

  • Key networking sessions,
  • One-on-one business counseling,
  • Access to local thought leaders,
  • Your corporate logo on promotional materials,
  • Display space at the Forum.

The United States is all in on doing business in Africa, and more and more companies are targeting the market with help from U.S. government assistance. This is a great opportunity for your company to get ahead of the curve and establish itself as a leader in the trend of doing business in Africa.

Officials on the continent have told us that they are ready for more U.S. companies to do business in their markets. Consumers are actively seeking the Made-in-America label. U.S. companies large and small are increasing revenue and making an impact in developing markets.

I’d like to thank all the great companies, organizations, and agencies that have signed up as Trade Winds Marketing Partners and I hope many of you will join us on this important mission. There’s never been a better time to do business in Africa, and our team would love to help yours succeed.

Have questions? Feel free to contact us.


U.S. Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Capitalize on Emerging Markets in Africa

July 30, 2015

Evi Fuelle is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Trade Promotion and Coordinating Committee Office.

Earlier this week, several young innovators and entrepreneurs convened in Nairobi, Kenya, for one of the most exciting entrepreneurial opportunities in the world: the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).

President Obama and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Africa for the 2015 GES, the global business community’s equivalent of the “World Cup.”

During the sixth annual GES, the President addressed more than 1,200 attendees. The first to be held in sub-Saharan Africa, the 2015 GES shined a spotlight on the growing importance of the Continent as a center of business.

Secretary Pritzker led a delegation of roughly 200 U.S. investors to the Summit, including entrepreneurs at various points of their business development, and a diverse group of leaders and mentors from the business community.

As the Obama administration’s lead for entrepreneurship, Secretary Pritzker participated in a number of events during the GES, including the official pre-summit youth and women session, which brought together 150 entrepreneurs from around the world to provide them with an opportunity to discuss specific challenges, interact with industry experts, and pitch their business ideas to companies. Secretary Pritzker also hosted roundtables and meetings with select entrepreneurs, business leaders, and government officials.

Entrepreneurship is critical to generating economic growth, stimulating employment, and providing a basis for better economic and political stability. The U.S. government continues to lead numerous initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship and business in Africa, including the U.S. Commercial Service’s Trade Winds program, which will begin in South Africa on September 14, and will continue across the Continent through September 21.

The 2015 Trade Winds program offers U.S. companies the opportunity to explore eight markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. Featuring an Africa-focused business forum, the program consists of regional and industry specific conference sessions, as well as pre-arranged consultations with U.S. Senior Government Diplomats representing commercial markets from 19 African countries.

A Business Development Conference will be held from September 16-18 in Johannesburg as a feature of Trade Winds South Africa, giving businesses access to high visibility networking events with leading industry and government officials. The Business Development Conference will also provide businesses with the opportunity to conduct individual consultations with eight U.S. Commercial Service officers and 13 U.S. State Department posts from U.S. Embassies.

Other trade mission stops during Trade Winds Africa will give participants the opportunity to conduct customized business-to-business meetings with pre-screened firms in Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Both the GES and Trade Winds South Africa will provide unparalleled opportunities for U.S. innovators, entrepreneurs and business owners to capitalize on emerging markets in Africa, and the chance to seek out new innovation partners, demonstrating the administration’s commitment to helping entrepreneurs around the world realize the benefits of ingenuity.


Benin is Powering Up and Wants U.S. Products and Expertise

July 10, 2015
Omar Arouna,Benin Ambassador to the United States

The Benin Ambassador to the United States, Omar Arouna wants more Americans to do business in Benin.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

It’s not every day when a credentialed ambassador to the United States leans over, eyes brightening, and says, “If small U.S. companies come to Africa, they will make money.  A lot of money.”

He smiles as he savors the words a lot, as if tasting something delicious.

But then it’s back to reality.  He’s asked about perceptions among U.S. businesspeople that much of Africa is decidedly unpalatable, unhealthy, unfriendly, and unprofitable.

The Benin Ambassador to the United States Omar Arouna has heard it all before.  “Benin has been a stable democracy since 1990,” he explains.  “We have the same values, the same aspirations as the American people.  We see things exactly like the American people.”

He wants more Americans to do business in Benin, a country the size of Kentucky on the coast of West Africa. Benin’s 10 million people work mostly in the service sector and in agriculture, where the main exports are cotton, pineapple, and cashews.

The port of Cotonou provides access to the sea for the inland countries of Mali, Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso.  “We’re a small county with a big footprint,” said Arouna, referring to Benin’s location and access to a much larger regional market of more than 300 million people, including its big next door neighbor Nigeria.

But perhaps the best money-making opportunity is in Benin, with immediate business to be generated, thanks to $400 million from the people of the United States.  Benin has entered into a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an arm of the State Department that doles out development dollars in exchange for demonstrable progress in good governance and building a market economy.

Power to the People                                                  

Combustion Associates does business in Benin

Combustion Associates confirms that Benin has been good for business.

This round of funding (a previous round helped build a port) is to strengthen the energy sector with a focus on renewables, including bio mass and solar.  More power generation at cheaper prices is needed to boost productivity, and any surplus can be sold to the regional power grid for consumption by other countries all the way to Cote d’Voire.

“We need the technology and expertise of the smaller U.S. companies,” said Arouna.  “The scale of what we need is better suited to the smaller company.  We need consulting services, hardware, even companies and investors to build and operate power-generating facilities.”

He said that there are a number of small U.S. companies working in Benin, including Combustion Associates, which manufactures portable power plants.  The owners, who are clients of the Commercial Service, confirmed that Benin has been good for business.

The Benin government is responsible for managing the MCC funds procurement process, and while the assistance is not tied (there’s no requirement that U.S. contractors be used), Arouna made it clear that he hopes U.S. companies will submit proposals when the tenders start coming out via the government’s website in late August and continuing into next year.

For businesses wanting to hit the ground running, a trade mission to Benin is scheduled for August 3-7.  If you want to talk business, Arouna says you can contact him by email directly at the embassy in Washington, D.C., emphasizing that you “don’t even need an appointment.”

“Better yet,” he said, ”I’ll meet you at the airport in Benin.”  And he’s not saying that to be diplomatic.  He means it.

For more information on the trade mission to Benin, visit the trade mission page on the Embassy’s website. Read the rest of this entry ?


Growing the Export Tradition in North Carolina

June 10, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Wayne Cooper is the Chair of the District Export Council of North Carolina, a Marketing Partner for the Trade Winds-Africa Business Forum and Trade Mission.

Wayne Cooper

Wayne Cooper

As long as North Carolina has been a state, it’s been an exporter.

One of our first main exports was pine tar, and one rumor has it that our use of pine tar in the Revolutionary War is how we became known as the Tar Heel State. But I’m not writing to talk about rumors, or about the past.

What I want to talk about is the future, and for companies here in North Carolina and around the country, the future is global. We’re on a winning streak here in this state, and I’m not talking about college basketball. North Carolina has set goods export records for four straight years, hitting $31.3 billion in 2014.

Our globally engaged companies are reaping the benefits of that success: finding more revenue, hiring more people, expanding their inventories, their services, and their companies.

Why wouldn’t your company want to find that kind of success?

At the North Carolina District Export Council, the importance of exporting is always top of mind for us. What we want is to help get more North Carolina companies on board.

That’s why we are so glad to work with the U.S. Commercial Service, and it’s why we are partnering on the Trade Winds—Africa Forum. When we talk about the future of global business, it would be folly to not talk about Africa. In development, population, spending power, and just about any other measure, few regions can compete with the growth in Africa.

I hope that companies across the state, from the beautiful sands of the Outer Banks to the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains, will take a look at opportunities in Africa, and at the Trade Winds mission. If there is any way your company can best take advantage of the opportunities in that continent, it’s with the help of the Commercial Service team.

I want more companies to find the success that our state’s exporters already enjoy, because we all know that there aren’t many places in the world that compete with North Carolina when it comes to manufacturing, building, selling, or providing quality products and services.

Now let me say this in my best North Carolina voice: I hope to see y’all in South Africa!


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