Archive for the ‘Doing Business in Africa’ Category


How Opportunity Impacts Economic Success in Africa

September 21, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blogGuest blog post by Bloomberg Philanthropies

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Meet Asterie Mukangango. A couple of years ago, she was one of the many women farming small plots of coffee trees in Rwanda. Even though she was part of the global coffee market, she wasn’t aware of the complex web of relationships and elements that make up the value chain for a commodity as universal as coffee.


Photo of Asterie Mukangango, a Coffee Farmer in Rwanda: Women are the Economic Engine of Africa, Providing about 70% of Labor and 90% of Food Across the Continent.

Today, Asterie is an experienced farmer who deeply understands the process, challenges and barriers of exporting coffee. She’s the president of the Nyampinga women’s coffee cooperative in Southern Rwanda and a trainee of Bloomberg Philanthropies partner, the Relationship Coffee Institute — Sustainable Harvest Rwanda. Not only does Asterie understand the ins and outs of the coffee value chain but she also empowers other women in her community to become independent businesswomen who can provide for their families. Women like her are helping lead Africa towards a stronger economy.

What set Asterie apart? Opportunity. Without the opportunities afforded by programs such as Sustainable Harvest Rwanda, women smallholder farmers like Asterie would be unlikely to cultivate the entrepreneurial and business skills needed to grow their operations in the marketplace.

Opportunity can take many forms, from new partnerships and access to markets to vocational training programs and support for wealth-building. These elements are all important to ensuring that women are at the center of broader economic success in Africa.

That’s why at Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’re constantly working to unlock opportunities that help facilitate growth and progress in Africa, from our Women’s Economic Development program to our Maternal and Reproductive Health initiative.

And that’s why we’re deepening our investment with the Relationship Coffee Institute with a renewed $10 million gift. The Relationship Coffee Institute connects women farmers to resources and global markets so they can meet the international demand for specialty coffee. This new round of funding will allow the institute to reach an additional 20,000 women.

Join the conversation using #USAfricaBizForum and follow our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see updates from the U.S.-Africa Business Forum.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and East African Leaders Agree to Business Commitments in New York

September 21, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker hosted the East African Heads of State roundtable in New York City. Held alongside the United Nations General Assembly meeting and the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, the roundtable brought together East African leaders to discuss business development, investment opportunities, and economic growth in their respective countries. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya participated, along with multiple U.S. and African CEOs from companies doing business in the region.


U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum’s East Africa Heads of State Roundtable

The roundtable built on the achievements from the CEO regional integration roundtable Secretary Pritzker co-chaired with President Kagame in January 2016 during her trip to Africa with members of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA). Secretary Pritzker facilitated yesterday’s discussion aimed at accelerating regional integration through practical and actionable private sector driven proposals in the areas of travel and tourism, agribusiness technology, and infrastructure. The East African leaders agreed to support these proposals, which are critical steps to expanding the bilateral trade and investment relationships between their respective countries and with the United States.

The impact of the travel and tourism sector on the economic and social development of a country can be enormous. Given this, Secretary Pritzker facilitated an agreement among the East African leaders and the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State to launch an annual rotating U.S.-East Africa Travel and Tourism Dialogue to promote East Africa as a top global travel and tourism destination and support the growth of new partnership opportunities for U.S. and East African companies in this sector.

While East African countries are exploring many exciting travel and tourism initiatives, agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies, and the sector has not reached its full potential During today’s roundtable, the East African leaders agreed to launch the pilot in Kenya and scale it across the other East African countries.  At the same time, they recognized that a more holistic approach to agribusiness development is necessary. As a result, Secretary Pritzker tasked the U.S. Department of Commerce to work with partner agencies to develop a comprehensive and data driven approach to address production, productivity and value added challenges.

Similarly, interconnected infrastructure is essential to realizing East Africa’s economic potential, and would significantly improve regional integration and the growth of intra-regional and global trade. East African leaders and Secretary Pritzker agreed to work together to address challenges in building large-scale infrastructure, with the goal of convening an Infrastructure Summit with U.S. investors and companies across the infrastructure value chain focused on specific projects in the critical areas of electricity, transport and water infrastructure.

For more information on the three proposals, please see our fact sheet.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Completes Fact-Finding Mission With President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

February 5, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. Secretary Pritzker completed her fact-finding mission to Africa with the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) in Kigali, Rwanda. The goal of the trip for the PAC-DBIA members was to listen and learn, and in the near future, provide recommendations to President Obama and Secretary Pritzker that will guide the Administration’s policy choices with respect to enhancing commercial ties between the U.S. and countries across Africa. Secretary Pritzker and the Council also visited Nigeria from January 25-26 and Rwanda from January 27-28.


Secretary Pritzker met with a group of local women entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda to learn about the successes and challenges they’ve experienced in starting their businesses. The Secretary traveled to Nigeria and Rwanda for a fact-finding mission with senior U.S. business executives who comprise the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA).

Rwanda is one of Africa’s economic success stories and a key partner within the East African Community (EAC). From 2000 to 2012, Rwanda’s economy grew at 8.1 percent per year. Furthermore, Rwanda has significantly improved its rankings in the World Banks’ Ease of Doing Business Index – Rwanda is ranked as 62nd out of 189 economies in the 2016 report and the second-best in Africa behind Mauritius. Less than a decade ago, Rwanda was ranked 143rd. The Council chose to visit Rwanda to gain a deeper understand of what Rwanda has done that has worked, and how the country’s progress can serve as an example for others in the region and across the continent.

In Kigali, the group first visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, home to the remains of victims of the 1994 genocide, which has become a permanent memorial, museum, and archive. Secretary Pritzker had the opportunity to pay tribute to those lost in the genocide and recognize Rwanda’s progress in moving beyond the tragedy.

Secretary Pritzker then met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame, to discuss ways to deepen the commercial relationship with Rwanda and some of the challenges facing our two nations. Following their meeting , Secretary Pritzker and President Kagame were joined by the PAC-DBIA members and African business executives for a roundtable about the economic benefits of increasing regional trade and integration efforts among the countries of the East African Community (EAC). While the EAC is the most progressive trading region in Africa, it still faces many challenges in areas like transportation and energy infrastructure and customs modernization. Private sector investments from both U.S. and African businesses would not only help solve these issues, but would also create new opportunities for increased U.S.-African commercial ties.

To wrap-up the visit in Kigali, Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Erica J. Barks-Ruggles hosted a roundtable with local businesswomen and gave the Council an opportunity to learn how they are contributing to the culture of entrepreneurship in the country. Rwanda is known for high rates of female participation in business and government, and members of the PAC-DBIA heard about the policies and programs –  whether instituted by the Government of Rwanda or directly supported by the U.S. Embassy – that have created such opportunities for women.  They also discussed the specific challenges entrepreneurs face, both as women and as business owners.

The Secretary’s fact-finding mission to Nigeria and Rwanda underscores the Obama Administration’s commitment to shifting the U.S. economic relationship with Africa from one based on aid to one based on trade and investment. During this trip, Secretary Pritzker also announced the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which will take place during the week of September 19, 2016, on the occasion of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. The first forum brought together hundreds of American and African CEOs with nearly every African head of state in an effort to spur more trade and investment between the United States and the 54 countries of Africa.


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.