For the love of Africa, we must commit to becoming a unified Diaspora. That unity cannot happen without economic engagement. Booker T. Washington told us more than 100 years ago that if we start our own businesses and begin to do business with each other, not only will we survive but indeed prosper. We should adhere to his wisdom and make it so that it becomes a campaign to incubate businesses wherever we are and to start doing business with each other globally. I am talking about trade and investment throughout the African Diaspora, which will create jobs, healthcare, infrastructure and wealth.

The land of our origin is blessed with more natural resources than any other continent on this earth. It is only fitting for us to use that as a basis for our new-found entrepreneurship. Every child of African descent should have a focus on doing business in some form with Africa and creating business relationships with businesspersons from Africa. That will be the key to our commonality.

There are 1 billion souls on the continent of Africa. South America possesses more than 150 million members of the African Diaspora. North America approaches 50 million and the Caribbean is predominantly Black. Then there is adequate representation within the populations of other continents. One thing, unfortunately, is common in most places: members of the African Diaspora are on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. This must change, but it will not change until we communicate with each other; share best practices and spend our money with each other.

The year 2012 will be known as the Year of Organization. We will be participating in a series of summits and conventions that will organize our entrepreneurs and put them on the same page, so to speak. We will constantly call out to the African Diaspora and begin this process. The following are the events we are scheduling:
National Black Chamber of Commerce 20th Annual Convention, Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta, Ga., July 19-21, 2012. The theme is “Good Policies Lead to a Great Economy.” This event will be packed full of content, including a matchmaker for our members and more than 100 entrepreneurs from Africa (mainly Botswana). Don’t miss this!–www.nbccconvention.org.

Transatlantic International Trade and Investment Symposium, Aug. 1, 2012, Hilton Trinidad, Trinidad-Tobago: This event will gather entrepreneurs from North America, South America (inclusive of the Caribbean) and Africa. The theme is “Reinventing the Triangle” (revolving interaction among the three continents). NBCC President/CEO Harry C. Alford will give the keynote address at this historical event. More details to follow shortly.

Leon H. Sullivan Summit IX, Aug. 20-24, 2012, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: The NBCC aims to populate this summit with our members with the intent of learning the business environment of each sub-Saharan African nation as they will be represented at this very popular event. Standard charter delegate packages start at $2,012 (which includes coach airfare, double-occupancy hotel rooms, official summit meals, and summit events).

Why Equatorial Guinea? There you will experience the natural wonders of the Gulf of Guinea, courtesy of the Equatorial Guinean government and the Equatorial Guinean Tourist Board.

Renowned for its many exotic beaches and forests, Equatorial Guinea offers something new and exciting for both the new and the most seasoned explorers. www.sullivansummit.org.

NBCC Trade Mission to Ethiopia, mid-September, 2012: This nation, with the second largest population in Africa, is opening up its economy and is becoming a true free market. It is rich in resources and is cultivating a new entrepreneurial class. Let’s go and meet them. Fly with us on the classy Ethiopian Air Lines and visit the historical city of Addis Ababa. The history of the nation is noted in the Bible, and dates back to the pharaohs of Egypt. Exact details will follow soon.

The First PanAfrican Entrepreneurs Conference, Nov. 15-17, 2012, Four Seasons Hotel, Houston, Texas. Our sister organization will make its debut with a bang. The intent is to organize PanAfrican entrepreneurs and set policy, issue positions and initiatives that relate to trade, business development and wealth-building, where African Diaspora populations exist.

Delegates will meet via online at regular occasions. The November conferences will assess our progress and reset our agenda for the following year. We are developing a website, www.panafricanec.org, which can be read in various languages, including Swahili. This event will be historical so plan to attend.

Post Conference Trade Mission to Zambia, Nov. 21-26, 2012, Lusaka, Zambia: This event will take the momentum from the above conference and begin applying it to one of the most stable nations on the continent of Africa. The English-speaking nation has a dynamic American Chamber of Commerce, and we are working with this office to ensure a viable, serious business experience with results. More details to follow.

Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

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