All research, educated conclusions, anthropological findings and biblical writings cite the continent of Africa as the beginning of mankind. It is the venue of mathematics, construction management, architecture, medicine, and most importantly, civilization. No continent has gone through so much exploitation, invasion, colonialization, slavery, dictatorships and pilferage of natural resources as Africa.

Yet, still it grows and glows before the modern world. It is the combination of its resources, as well as the resiliency of its people–“that which does not kill us; makes us stronger.” Today, we stand strong, educated, traveled and organized at last. We now come forward to set positive forces to further our future and guarantee the success of our children. We control our legacy and will now set an economic policy to guarantee the fruits that were seeded in our past.

The PanAfrican Entrepreneurs Conference will have its first conference on Nov. 15-18, 2012, in Houston, Texas (www.panafricanec.org). Its long-range goal is to link descendants of Africa who are in business. We are outreaching brothers and sisters from Australia, Fiji Islands and other entities in the Pacific Ocean with North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and all points in between.

The mission of PAEC is: To create an arena for entrepreneurs and business people within the Black Diaspora to meet and further their business connections. Also, to suggest policy improvement and issue awareness that will benefit the status of Black entrepreneurs internationally.

The Strategic Plan to achieve the above mission is:
1. Project strategies: To promote, help develop and expose procurement opportunities for our entrepreneurs. These opportunities will include infrastructure, energy, water management, agri-business, telecommunications, fashion, matchmaking, logistics, transportation, healthcare, environmental management, bidding/tender/RFP management, education facilities, fishing industry, rare minerals.

2. Capital formation: Using vehicles such as the World Bank, IMF, EXIM Bank, Hermes, Asian Development Bank, OPIC, Pan African Linkage, Equity Funding, SPAEC, European Union, etc., to fund the above activities and provide robust growth and activity.

3. Trade policy formation: Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) oversight, corporate responsibility guidelines, specific free-trade agreements, dispute resolutions, tariffs and duty relief, corruption intolerance.

4. Virtual and instant communications: Website (www.panafricanec.org), Facebook, Twitter, Social Media.

5. Governance: Through 10 regional committees and delegates to the annual conference who will decide policy and direction in a democratic and transparent manner. The regions are: North America (including the Caribbean), South America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa, Western Africa, Asia, the Pacific Rim.

The history of the African Diaspora is incomplete. We are in the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand. Historians and anthropologists merely say that we have been there for at least 1,500 years. They don’t start to explain how we got there, but we are definitely there. There is a common bond and camaraderie when we first meet and each time thereafter. That common bond is that we have the same home–Africa.

One thing for sure is that our future is certain. It is our destiny and fate to excel economically. As Booker T. Washington once stated, “If we just build our businesses and only do business with each other, we not only will survive but prosper.” The time to make that a reality starts here. Our Motherland holds the greatest resources the world has to offer. Its rich soil comprises 60 percent of the total potential farmland in the world. That’s right, we hold the bread basket for the entire globe and our resources can fuel all industries. Let us manage them wisely and cherish what God has blessed us with.

They have enslaved us, raped us and committed genocide on us. Sometimes we would even do it to ourselves. But still we rise! God has given us a purpose and no matter what has gotten in the way, we will complete that purpose. All praise to the Lord for allowing us to be descendants of the great continent Africa. The time is now!

This conference will be the kickoff for this noble initiative. Every segment of the Diaspora population will be linked to what we are about to do. The National Black Chamber of Commerce will be the consultant to the conference, which is a separate entity (501c3). Board seats will comprise of entrepreneurs representing the 10 regions. The focus of the conference is purely international and trade specific. A member may invent something in a small town in Missouri or Uganda. Soon thereafter it will be known throughout the Diaspora. If it is worthy and commercial it will quickly be utilized by a good portion of the 1.5 billion people representing the African Diaspora. It is a base for success.

After all, it is the economy that can make all things great.

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

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