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Women Leadership and Hillary Clinton: Competence has no gender, no race and no religion

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Last Friday, history was made. The first female nominee of a major party gracefully accepted her nomination. Hillary Clinton is a symbol of the progressive revolution taking place in America. Americans have finally begun to accept that women can lead this great nation just as well as men can.

President Obama and Bill Clinton both asserted that she is more capable than them to take the presidential seat and her long list of accomplishments stand as testament. Her determination, wit, and willingness to compromise pushed her to excel in her many political positions and they will ensure her success as the next president of the United States. After all, what person can sit through an 11 hour long hearing, in which his/her character is torn apart, without flinching?

Her competence and intelligence can be witnessed even before the presidential election. She graciously offered to work alongside Bernie Sanders to formulate the most progressive agenda that the United States has seen. This move is her way to bring the party together and that is true leadership. In a similar fashion, we can count on Hillary Clinton to reach across the aisle and bridge the gap between the country’s two political parties.

Is cooperation foundational to womanhood? Her actions indicate that it is. Is cooperation an essential trait to leadership? It most definitely is, to ensure that the country progresses. Hillary Clinton stands as an example to the nation of the abilities and fresh perspective that female leadership can provide. By breaking the ultimate glass ceiling, she sets precedence for her fellow sisters throughout America.

EW4H State Co-chair, Angelle Kwemo, with Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker. At the Democratic Convention

EW4H State Co-chair, Angelle Kwemo, with Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker. At the Democratic Convention

Women should not be treated as a special interest group as they compromise 50% of the population. Women should have an equal say in how we are governed. The right to vote is not the end of the battle. Adequate representation in government is the pinnacle of equality and after 44 presidents it is time that we have someone to represent the other 50% of the population.

Many nations that are often presented as “third-world” and lacking in gender equality have seen it fit to elect a female leader that fights for equal opportunity for all. The one continent which has faced extreme criticism from the Western world for its gender inequality has taught the West tremendously about female empowerment. Africa has chosen to elect four women presidents and appointed prime ministers to lead their respective nations to success.

These “patriarchal” societies have had no qualms about taking that initiative and it has shown with the exponential growth of all socioeconomic aspects of African life. President Joyce Hilda Banda of Malawi, President Agnes Monique Ohsan Bellepeau of Mauritius, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, as chairperson of the African Union Commission, all represent the great strides that the continent has taken in recognizing the value and leadership skills of women. It is time that we learn something from Africa.

Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives and former Speaker of Congress with Angelle Kwemo at the Democratic Party Convention

Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives and former Speaker of Congress with Angelle Kwemo at the Democratic Party Convention

We need to stand beside, support, and inspire each other in the sisterhood.  As professional women, we can relate to her struggle to defy the odds. If women do not speak up for one another, then who will? Of course, Hillary Clinton’s status as a female is a major out of many reasons why women will vote for her because it is guaranteed that she will fight for women’s rights. Hillary Clinton is the only one in this presidential race that can ensure that women’s rights are human rights as she did relentlessly in the past. More importantly she is equipped, prepared and skilled to lead America to a yet greater future. Competence has no gender, no race and no religion my friends.

Believe in Africa (BIA) is an African diaspora-led initiative founded by former U.S. congressional staffers and African leaders in the U.S., to empower young Africans, promote the role of the African private sector, harness the power of the African diaspora, educate policy makers and the public about African economic growth and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community.

*Angelle Kwemo is CEO of Believe in Africa Foundation,Co Chair of Executive Women for Hillary, DMV Chapter,and author of a new book Against All Odds

Are Africa’s Wealthiest Doing Enough To Help The Continent?

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Africa’s richest give an estimated US$7bn every year to charity, says a 2014 report by the African Grantmakers Network; but the figures also hint that giving is unbalanced among those who can afford to make a difference.

Read the original article here : Are Africa’s Wealthiest Doing Enough To Help The Continent?

Diaspora : Angelle Kwemo, ex-“Madame Afrique” du Congrès américain

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“J’ai plus appris sur l’Afrique durant mes années à Washington qu’à Douala”, dit celle qui s’est donnée corps et âme pour rapprocher les États-Unis de l’Afrique.

Angelle Kwemo lors d'une présentation aux États-Unis

Femme d’affaires, stratège, activiste de la cause des jeunes et des femmes, mais surtout défenseur de la participation des Africains dans les plateformes de décisions internationales, Angelle Kwemo multiple les casquettes. À 48 ans, après avoir été la « Madame Afrique » de Capitol Hill pendant plus de sept ans, elle décide de mettre un terme à sa carrière dans le public et crée son entreprise : A StrategiK Group. Elle ne change pas pour autant et continue de poser des ponts entre l’Afrique et les États-Unis. De fait, elle conseille les entreprises américaines qui souhaiteraient s’installer sur le continent, ainsi que les décideurs africains intéressés par les États-Unis.

Les premiers pas d’un parcours d’exception

Angelle Kwemo commence sa carrière de façon plutôt classique, en allant étudier puis travailler en France. En 1996, elle rentre au pays et officie successivement pour les succursales camerounaises de deux groupes français spécialisés dans la logistique, Bolloré et Géodis. Mais cela ne lui suffit pas. En 2001, elle décide de reprendre ses études et s’envole pour les États-Unis. Onze ans plus tard, la voilà naturalisée américaine, une consécration méritée à la suite d’une carrière passée à rapprocher le continent africain de la première puissance mondiale.

Une Camerounaise au Congrès

« Quand je suis arrivée aux USA, les gens connaissaient mal l’Afrique. Ils ne la regardaient pas comme je la regardais, moi qui suis africaine. C’est normal, les politiques répondent à l’opinion publique, et, à l’époque, l’Américain moyen ne voyait pas encore l’intérêt que pouvait représenter le continent », explique celle qui a participé à changer cette perception. « J’ai donc dû faire un travail de fourmi. J’ai participé à tellement de réunions de mobilisation, à l’organisation de tellement de hearing au sein du Congrès ; j’ai poussé, répété l’intérêt de placer le continent dans l’agenda de la politique commerciale US… » se souvient-elle. Un travail pédagogique de longue haleine qui a fini par porter ses fruits. Conseillère législative du puissant Congressman Bobby Rush, à la tête du comité sur l’énergie et le commerce, elle a œuvré sans relâche à l’amélioration des relations économiques entre les USA et l’Afrique, et notamment sur la politique d’export américaine en direction du continent. Mais son vrai rôle s’est joué dans les coulisses.

Un travail public, mais aussi en coulisses

Cheville ouvrière de la loi sur le commerce US-Afrique, Angelle a multiplié les actions de sensibilisation au sein de l’organe législatif américain. Elle a coordonné l’« African Partnership for Economic Growth Caucus », un groupe parlementaire défendant le décollage économique africain, et créé le « Congressional African Staff Association » au sein de laquelle elle a sensibilisé ses collègues aux opportunités de l’Afrique. Une méthode qui a réussi puisque l’investissement en Afrique est devenu une pièce centrale de la politique américaine. « Depuis deux ans, je perçois un changement. Je peux dire avec fierté que j’ai participé à faire évoluer la vision des Américains sur l’Afrique », dit-elle, non sans fierté. « J’ai plus appris sur l’Afrique au Congrès, qu’en étant au Cameroun. À Washington, j’ai compris que l’Afrique était complexe et diversifiée. J’ai maintenant un regard beaucoup plus panafricain qu’avant. »

Afrocapitalisme sans frontières

Désormais, elle consacre son temps entre Washington, Douala et Lagos à développer son entreprise, même si elle n’oublie pas de continuer sa mission de sensibilisation à travers son organisation « Believe in Africa » qui vient d’ouvrir un bureau à Paris. Le Nigeria est son cœur de cible business parce que, comme elle aime à le décrire, ce pays a un secteur privé très vibrant et entre les mains des locaux. « Je suis une ardente partisane du secteur privé. Les échanges commerciaux ne sont désormais plus dirigés par les gouvernements mais par les entreprises. Les secteurs privés ont un énorme rôle à jouer dans le développement économique du continent ! »

Un atout de taille : sa double culture africaine et américaine

« Je peux vivre un mois sur le terrain africain, je suis chez moi, ce que ne pourrait pas faire quelqu’un qui ne connaît pas la culture locale. Inversement, je connais également les forces et les faiblesses des entrepreneurs africains par rapport aux normes américaines puisque je suis bien au fait des standards américains », détaille celle qui affiche ses deux appartenances avec fierté. Sa double culture lui permet d’être une observatrice aguerrie de la relation commerciale de deux rives de l’Atlantique. « Les gens n’avaient pas vu le potentiel du secteur privé africain. Il a fallu que deux géants comme l’Afrique du Sud et le Nigeria émergent pour qu’enfin l’on se rende compte du potentiel du continent et que l’on veuille bien y participer. » L’ancienne habituée des couloirs du Congrès regrette cependant que tout soit politisé dans le district de Columbia. « L’Afrique est utilisée à des fins de politique politicienne. Tout ce que fait Barack Obama, même son déplacement récent en Afrique de l’Est, a été critiqué. Alors que sur l’Afrique en général les deux partis [Républicains et Démocrates] sont d’accord, que l’on parle de paludisme ou de sida, ou de l’intérêt économique de l’Afrique. » De l’autre côté, elle regrette également de voir le climat des affaires des pays d’Afrique francophone ne pas prendre son envol faute de ne pas être assez libéralisé.

Un success-story, oui, des leçons aussi

De ses expériences extraordinaires, Angelle Kwemo a tiré un livre, à paraître fin 2015. De quoi parlera-t-il ? « De mes plus gros challenges et handicaps, du fait que je sois une femme de couleur, du fait que, sur le continent, on ne fasse pas encore confiance aux femmes comme on le fait aux hommes. Malgré mon parcours, j’ai parfois l’impression que l’on serait plus assuré si la même présentation était faite par un homme blanc », déclare-t-elle avec une pointe de tristesse dans la voix. Ce livre sera un peu sa façon à elle de partager son expérience avec des jeunes qui voient grand. Elle y parlera de la double discrimination de la femme noire, « plus violente en Afrique qu’aux États-Unis ». En somme, du parcours et de la success-story d’une Camerounaise devenue leader africaine-américaine avec comme dessein principal de rapprocher les États-Unis de l’Afrique.

Read the original article here : Diaspora : Angelle Kwemo, ex-“Madame Afrique” du Congrès américain

U.S. Embassy Hosts Women’s Business Seminar

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On June 9, the U.S Embassy in Yaounde hosted a women’s entrepreneurship seminar led by U.S. Speaker Ms. Angelle Kwemo, who is a Cameroonian American entrepreneur. The program was attended by 50 women from microfinance institutions, faith-based associations, and U.S. government exchange program participants, including from the Africa Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). Organized by Cultural Affairs Specialist Gladys Viban, the seminar welcomed the exchange of ideas between Cameroonian women entrepreneurs, and expanded their networks to promote partnerships for economic development.

Welcoming the guests, Public Affairs Officer Roberto Quiroz II lauded their achievements and noted: “As Ambassador Michael S. Hoza has said, promoting the empowerment of women and girls, and welcoming their immense talents and contributions in all sectors, are essential to promote development in every nation. You exemplify that spirit by investing your energies and talents towards expanding private sector growth here in Cameroon, and greater job opportunities for your fellow citizens. Your work demonstrates that to promote the goals of ‘Vision 2035,’ citizens must contribute to Cameroon today. Angelle Kwemo’s story is similar to yours. As a native of Cameroon, she shares your passion to promote women’s entrepreneurship.”

Ms. Viban introduced AWEP alumna Mrs. Josiane Mbakop, CEO of the microfinance MUDEF, who shared her experiences and lessons learned during the program in 2014. “Thanks to the economic principles we learned, we reduced the rate of credit default in our microfinance institute by 10%. African women now have tremendous opportunities to advance and we are fortunate to establish networks to mentor and help one another as well as young women interested in entrepreneurship as a career to contribute to their communities and to Cameroon,” she said.

Ms. Angelle Kwemo lauded the group for their experience and openness to share their knowledge with Cameroonian women. Underscoring the immense opportunities for women to increase their leadership roles in enterprises, she urged them to overcome failures and face risks until they succeed: “Study after study has shown that the economic empowerment of women leads to poverty alleviation. Yet the business potential of women is far from being fully realized. Women entrepreneurs can improve their chances of success by networking, improving business skills, recruiting a mentor, and seeking greater access to capital.”

Participants exchanged ideas on how to promote business growth and product exports from Cameroon to international markets. The event was closed by Cultural Affairs Specialist Gladys Viban, who encouraged each woman present to “light up the candles of the many women who were not present here at the seminar, and who will see in you an example to follow. Take advantage of all of the opportunities offered by the networks you have established, and from the U.S. Embassy through the programs we organize. Alone you can achieve something, but together we can achieve greater things.”

Ms. Kwemo is the founder and chair of “Believe in Africa,” an African diaspora-led initiative founded by former U.S. congressional staffers and African-American leaders in the United States to empower young Africans, promote the role of the African private sector, harness the power of the African diaspora, educate policy makers and the public about African economic growth, and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community. Ms. Kwemo is also the President & CEO of Astrategik Group, LLC. is a U.S./Africa based global consulting firm specializing in the provision of strategic advice to multi-dimensional entities, allowing them to effectively compete globally, and at the same time building in-roads into the US, Africa and other emerging markets.

A native of Cameroon, Ms. Kwemo started her career in France at Bestaux Law firm. In Douala, Cameron, she served as the Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as the General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas.

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Elumelu Foundation selects inaugural 1,000 African entrepreneurs for $100m programme

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By Press Release

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is pleased to announce the selection of the first 1,000 African entrepreneurs for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP). TEEP is a $100 million initiative to discover and support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, with a target of creating one million new jobs and $10 billion in additional revenues in the process.

Over 20,000 African entrepreneurs from 52 countries applied to the programme, representing the creativity and potential on display across the continent. The initial 1,000 selected for the 2015 class are a remarkable group of entrepreneurs who are a testament to the ability of Africa’s own entrepreneurs to drive Africa’s growth and development.

Speaking on the desired impact of the programme, Founder, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu, CON, commented: “The selection of these 1000 entrepreneurs brings us closer to our ultimate goal – to drive Africa’s economic and social transformation from within and to radically intensify job creation in Africa. Though I have never met or spoken to any of the winners, I am confident that due to the rigorous criteria and selection process, these entrepreneurs are Africa’s hope for the future. I will continue to invest my experience, time, influence, and resources to see them succeed. I am embarking on this journey with these entrepreneurs hopeful and inspired.”

The winners represent 52 African countries and territories, as well as a multitude of value adding sectors ranging from agriculture to education to fashion and ICT. The top five countries in terms of numbers of winners are Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Ghana. All five African regions – North, East, Southern, Central and West Africa are represented, as well as all major language blocs – Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone, and Arabic Africa. More than anything else, they epitomise the opportunity and promise of Africa.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation appointed Accenture as an independent review consultant to thoroughly evaluate each application based on selection criteria approved by the TEEP Selection Committee. Following Accenture’s independent review, a meeting of the TEEP Selection Committee, made up of successful entrepreneurs and development experts from across Africa, was held today in Lagos to approve the final list of winners.

The 1000 selected entrepreneurs will continue through the programme cycle over the next nine months. This cycle includes an intensive online training curriculum, mentoring, and participation in a two-day entrepreneurship boot-camp and the Elumelu

Entrepreneurship Forum. The over 19,000 entrepreneurs who were not selected will be invited to join the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Network where they will be able to further hone their entrepreneurial knowledge and skills.

Parminder Vir OBE, Director of Entrepreneurship at the Tony Elumelu Foundation, said: “The high quantity and quality of applicants we have received is testament to the brilliant ideas and incredible talent that exists in abundance across Africa. The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme will give structure and support to these African entrepreneurs to develop themselves and to grow their businesses. Through TEEP, the ripple effects of the long-term investments in a new generation of Africapitalists will be felt throughout the continent.”

Read the original article here : Elumelu Foundation selects inaugural 1,000 African entrepreneurs for $100m programme

Angelle B. Kwemo Joins The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) Selection Committee

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Contact: Dorinda White
Telephone: 202-403-2279
Cell: 202-491-3033
Email: info@believeinafrica.us
Website: http/www.believeinafrica.org

BIA picture TEEP

From L-R : Nimi Akinkugbe; Ambassador Jendayi Frazier ; Dr. Wiebe Boer, Parminder Vir OBE; Chairman Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N ; Angelle Kwemo ; Mr. Ayodeji Adewunmi and Ambassador Josephina Washima.

New Program Set To Empower the Next Generation of Africa’s Entrepreneurs:

(Washington, D.C.)- Angelle B. Kwemo, Founder & Chair, Believe in Africa (BIA) and Managing Director & CEO, Rimsom Strategies, Ltd., has been appointed to serve as one of ten members of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) Selection Committee.

TEEP is a multi-year program of training, funding, and mentoring, designed to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs. It is the first initiative of its kind to be launched by an African philanthropic organisation and the $100 million commitment by Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N, makes it the largest African sourced philanthropic gift, targeting the entrepreneurial space.

Program participants will learn to grow their businesses through skills training, mentoring, access to seed capital funding, information and membership in an Africa-wide alumni network. TEEP aims to create businesses that can generate at least 1,000,000 new jobs and contribute at least $10 billion in new annual revenue across Africa.

“I applaud Tony O. Elumelu for his vision in creating this historical initiative. Like him, we believe in Africa, we believe in the potential of African entrepreneurs and we know the impact they can have on the long-term economic transformation of Africa’s economies,” said Angelle Kwemo, Founder & Chair, BIA.

“By democratizing access to opportunity, with an emphasis on tapping into the talent of Africa’s young people, this program strives to ‘institutionalize luck,’ is a key factor in the success of any entrepreneur. This is in line with Believe in Africa’s fundamental principles— Believing, Inspiring and Acting,” added Kwemo. “Africa’s biggest asset is not only its natural resources, but more importantly, its human potential. It is time to harvest it. It is going to be challenging to select program participants from a legion of bright, innovative and commercially viable projects. But I stand ready and committed to the task.”

“We are happy that Ms. Kwemo is now a member of the selection committee, as she is passionate about empowering the next generation of African leaders. Africa’s future depends on Africans,” said Constant Nemale, co-founder of Believe in Africa and Chair of Africa24 TV.

“Africa24 TV is committed to supporting African initiatives that will have an impact on Africa’s long-term economic growth. Our entrepreneurs are looking for investments and partnership opportunities, not just handouts and this is what the TEEP will provide.”

“With the world fastest growing youth population, reaching nearly 200 million and expected to double by 2045, efforts to create jobs in the continent is a priority,” said Pape Samp, Chairman of the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN). “Africa needs an innovative entrepreneurship development program such as TEEP to address youth unemployment, provide start-up capital, and sustain businesses.”

To learn more about the TEEP and to apply, please visit www.tonyelumefoundation.org/teep.

Believe in Africa (BIA) is an African diaspora-led initiative founded by former U.S. congressional staffers and African leaders in the U.S., to empower young Africans, promote the role of the African private sector, harness the power of the African diaspora, educate policy makers and the public about African economic growth and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community. To learn more about BIA visit www.beleiveinafrica.org

Believe in Africa Day Awards Gala Dinner

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The Believe in Africa Day Awards Gala Dinner was hosted by Master of Ceremonies Roland Martin of TV One, and entertainment was provided by Kaissa Doumbe and Lokua Kanza.

Believe in Africa honored prominent personalities in both the U.S. and African public and private sectors for their leadership in promoting Africa’s economic growth. The awards were presented by the President of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

Former Senator Robert Dole, received the 2014 Believe in Africa Visionary Award for his leadership in addressing food security in Africa.

Recipients of the 2014 Believe in Africa Leadership Award were Members of Congress who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the future of Africa. They included:

  • Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) for addressing the concerns of the African private sector and the African Diaspora;
  • Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) for his work addressing the concerns of African children;
  • Congresswoman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) for his leadership on Africa trade and diaspora issues;
  • Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) for his leadership in promoting U.S. investments in Africa;
  • Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) for being a strong advocate for greater U.S. – Africa mutually beneficial partnerships in energy development;
  • Two business executives received the 2014 Believe in Africa Business Titan Awards, a symbol of partnership between both the U.S. and Africa private sector and the importance of Africapitalism’s philosophy that needs to be implemented to sustain Africa’s economic future: Jay Ireland, CEO, GE Africa and Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holding, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Africapitalism Institute.
  • M. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank received the “Believe in Africa Lifetime Achievement Award” for his leadership building Africa’s infrastructure.
  • Two sponsors Awards were given to Lucien Ebata, Chairman Orion and Forbes Afrique Pierre Goudiabi, ATEPA

We give our special gratitude to our sponsors, partners and supporters, our team and friends:

The Government of Cameroon, the African Union Commission, the Governor of Maryland, The Mayor of Washington DC, Africa 24TV, Forbes Afrique, The New York Forum on Africa, Richard Attias and Associates, Orion Oil, the Atepa Group, Etnium International, Rimsom Strategies, Africa 2.0, Financia Capital, Gumbi, Dechambenoit & Associates, Global Humanitarian Photojournalists, Rindi Media, Groupe Jeune Afrique, and Active Media.

See images here:

Believe In Africa Day Panels And Round Tables

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Panels:

Ms. Maureen Umeh, a Washington, DC Fox 5 TV News anchor, guided the high-level dialogue in an off-the-record, frank and straight talk interactive format environment.

High-level government officials, experts and business executives from both the U.S. and Africa participated as panelists throughout the day and included Ms. Lisa Bonnikson, Sub-Saharan Africa Region Manager; Kola Karim, Shoreline Energy International; Lucien Ebata, Chairman ORION OIL and FORBES AFRIQUE; Philippe Heilberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO at Jarch Capital, LLC; Dale Lefebvre, Chairman, 35711; Jacqueline Sultan, Minister of Agriculture of Guinéa, Mark von Pentz, President, Agriculture & Turf Division- Europe, Asia, Africa for John Deere; Richard Markwell, Vice-President and Managing Director for Europe, Africa and Middle East, Massey Ferguson; Calestous Juma, Harvard Kennedy School, Director of the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project funded by the Gates Foundation and Director of the Harvard Globalization project; Johan Steyn, Managing Director-Middle East & Africa, Cargill; Acha Leke, Director of McKinsey; Paolo Gomes, President, Constellor; Dr. Olatunde Ayeni, Chairman of SkyeBank; Dr. Rose Mutiso, Energy and Innovation Policy Fellow, Office of Senator Chris Coons (D-DE); Laura Taylor Kale, Senior Advisor to the president, U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Vice-President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean; Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Republic of Cameroon; Essimi Menye, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Republic of Cameroon; Basile Atangana Kouna, Minister of Water and Energy, Republic of Cameroon; Emmanuel Bonde, Minister of Mines, Industry and Technology Development, Republic of Cameroon; Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa, Minister of Small and Medium Size Enterprise, Social Economy and Handicraft, Republic of Cameroon; Daniel Abate, President of Employers Organization (MECAM) and Mr. Mathieu Mandeng, General Manager, Standard Chartered Bank, President of APECCAM.

You can see the Images here:

The First Believe In Africa Day 2014

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GUIDING THE WORLD TO BELIEVE IN AFRICA’S FUTURE

Washington, D.C. -August 8, 2014-Washington, DC’s highly anticipated and successful Believe in Africa Day was held with a crowded room of more than 400 government and business leaders on Sunday, August 3, 2014 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Believe in Africa Day, organized by Angelle B. Kwemo, Founder and CEO of Believe in Africa, was created because of Kwemo’s vision to present an African response to African issues, to promote the role of the diaspora and the private sector in Africa’s economic growth. Believe in Africa Day was timely as it brought together key players on the African continent who believe that the time has come for all the sons and daughters of Africa to be involved in the resurgence of their beloved continent.

This is Africa’s New Deal. Her riches, her willingness and the maturity of her people create fertile soil for new seeds to grow. Believe in Africa Day is a conduit for these burgeoning economies.

Believe in Africa Day was an event organized by “Africans For Africa”, where Africans are eager to share their vision for their beloved homeland with the rest of the world. The event was focused on sharing information and seeking viable partnerships with their U.S. counterparts to help make their vision for Africa, a reality.

The Believe in Africa Day speakers included prominent men and women in various leadership positions throughout the continent. Each speaker spoke in unison about the significance that the event was making in the history of the continent.

MEMORABLE SPEECHES:

H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Finance for the Republic of Cameroon, speaking on behalf of H.E. Paul Biya, said, “Some people thought that Africa has started to a bad start, others have claimed that Africa doesn’t have enough. But today things have changed. Africa not only started, but it started well. For us, Africa is the land of the future. This not just Believe in Africa Day, it is Believe in Africa century’. See the video
here:

Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, kicked off the opening day ceremony by stating, “We know Africa is rich, but we want African people to be rich as well.” See the video here:

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and President of the African Union commended Believe in Africa for hosting Believe in Africa Day.

The Mayor of the District of Columbia, The Honorable Vincent C. Gray and Governor Martin O’Malley Governor of the State of Maryland, commended Angelle Kwemo for her leadership and issued an official proclamation declaring August 3, 2014 as “Believe in Africa Day.” They encouraged other states to do the same. See the video here:

In his video message, Congressman Bobby L. Rush presented welcome remarks stating “Africans are master of their own destiny …” see the video here:

Prominent leaders like H.E.Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea ; H.E Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President of the Republic of Madagascar and M. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, served in active roles while moderating panels on energy, infrastructure, technology development and banking. Emphasizing the role Africans should play, he said: “A country that relies on others to finance development is ordained to fail.” Adding “changing Africa’s perception is step one for encouraging investment” in the continent.”

H.E. Alpha Conde’s speech:

H.E. Hery Rajaonarimampianina speech:

Mr. Donald Kaberuka’s speech:

Ambassador Jean Baptiste Natama, Africa Union Commission sent a powerful message to the youth. This was the first time that Africans among other Africans shared their visions and activities in those sectors in a high-level dialogue on each subject See the video here:

Tony O. Elumelu, CEO of Heirs Holdings stated, “I am a great believer in the power of vision. It is fundamental to any achievement, to greatness- but only when accompanied by action and follow through. The name of the ‘Believe in Africa’ organization is very apt for this moment in time. I believe in a brighter future for the next and coming generations of Africans. I believe that the private sector has an important role to play in advancing the well-being and economic development of the continent. I call this “Africapitalism”. He commended the African diaspora for speaking up and encouraged them “to believe in Africa by filling the constituency vacuum in U.S. policy towards Africa”. He added “You must actively engage and help to shape U.S. policy towards the continent and ensure that it is continually elevated as a priority.”

You can read Mr. Elumelu’s Message here: Remarks For The ‘Believe In Africa’ Awards Dinner

Angelle Kwemo, promoting intra Africa trade and economic transformation

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I was recently at a friend’s place who invited few of his loved ones to his family for barbeque on a cool Sunday evening at Ikoyi and as we all ate, chatted and were having fun, my ‘date’ for this week is introduced to me and from the first word she uttered, I could decipher she was from a francophone country…gosh! I have always loved to speak French and till date I am wondering how it never happened, perhaps I just never took it seriously…I will certainly get on it sometime soon.

Ok, back to my Lunch ‘date’ for this week. After spending some minutes with her, I knew I had to have an interview with her. I am always intrigued by people seeking to improve themselves and others irrespective of age, tribe, race, gender or religion hence the need to have her on this column. I introduce to you, Angelle Kwemo.

Angelle Kwemo started her career in France at Bestaux Law firm. In Douala, Cameron, she served as executive in one of the largest French investor firm in Africa, as Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as the General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas.

As Chief of the Maritime and Claims Department at Bollore Technology Group, Angelle was one of the youngest executive at that time. According to her, “It was very rewarding in a sense that it put me in the heart of maritime and global trade, import export activities, customs and multimodel transportation issues. Handling claims gives you a great picture on how global trade works. I can say that during those five years, I learned about the reality of the African private sector, the importance of what was then called ‘informal sector’, an important fabric of African economies. That experience helped me when I later worked on public policy, having firsthand knowledge of the reality Africans are facing, from the farmers to small and medium size enterprise.” She says.

Angella worked 7 years in the US Congress as legislative counsel for two members of congress including Rep. Bobby L. Rush, senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. She was instrumental in the U.S. Congress, playing a key role in policy formulation on issues affecting the global economy, coordinating the Middle East economic partnership, African Partnership for Economic Growth Caucuses including actively working for the passage of legislations to increase U.S. – trade relations and to improving the U.S. National export policies.

Having served seven years in the US congress, she tells me of her experience “I was born, raised and worked in Africa and this was a plus during my years advising Congressman Bobby L. Rush. It helped me anticipate a little bit on policy change in Africa and better communicate with the African and corporate constituency. I worked on implementing my boss’s pan African vision by helping to draft and passing legislations including the Africa Growth and opportunity Act (AGOA), reauthorizations, recognizing the strategic and economic importance of Africa to the US, several legislations including the US export legislation, the African investment and Diaspora legislation, to mention a few.” She quips.

Speaking further on her involvement at the US congress, Angella says “I am obsessed by the will to have a meaningful life and to have an impact on my generation. I consider myself extremely blessed with my career. It comes with a great deal of responsibilities. The late congressman Donald Payne and congressman Rush contributed a lot to what I have become today. They inspired me. Payne always tells me ‘don’t you ever forget where you are coming from’. That is why I have decided to launch Believe in Africa, (BIA) an African Diaspora -led initiative founded by former U.S. congressional staffers and African leaders and friends of Africa in the U.S., to empower young Africans, harness the power of the African Diaspora, educate policy makers and the public about African economic growth and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community. Our main goal is to give back to our community. We want all Africans to fulfil their potentials.

Our goal is to empower the African Diaspora, promote the role of the African private sector and help formulate African response to African issues.”

“We did our kickoff event with ‘Believe in Africa Day’, with a high level dialogue and an award diner where we recognized congressional leaders who believe in Africa when nobody did, inspiring leaders like Heirs Holding and GE who are not only doing good business but also defining the model of mutually beneficial partnerships. We want to see this duplicated in the continent. Believe in Africa is the vehicle God is helping me to use to continue to advocate for US Africa relations and African economic development. By God’s grace, we had a very successful African led program. It is an African led organization in Washington DC because it is time for us to be the master of our own destiny. We need to take responsibility, even outside the continent and tell our own story, advocate for our own future. Nobody can do it better than us.” Angella elaborates.

Kwemo is the founder and past president of the Congressional African Staff Association (CASA) aiming at educating members, senators and staffers on the positive progress of Africa. She has received a number of recognitions for her exemplary work in promoting Africa’s economic growth, including a citation from Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, the district of Columbia public service award, the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business Leadership Award” by the Minority Business Magazine and was named as one of the “World Most Influential African in the Diaspora” by a Paris based Africa 24 Magazine.

She regularly publishes articles and featured in the news, including Voice of America TV (VOA) France 24 TV, Africa 24 TV, China Daily, and Africa Report.

Kwemo is founder and Chair of Believe in Africa and the advisory board member of the Congo Infrastructure Capital Management (CICM), the Congo Infrastructure Hedge Fund (CHIF), and the Brazil USA Africa Infrastructure Fund (BUSIF). She is also the MD/CEO of Rimsom Strategies. Kwemo holds a LLM degree in Economics Activity Law from the University of Rouen in France and an LLM degree in International Business Transactions and Human Rights Law from American University in Washington DC.

Angelle was born in Cameroon from a very conservative Christian family. The last born of a family of six siblings in a very disciplined environment. She had to ‘report’ or be punished by five people before being corrected by her parents. “It put me in a lot of pressure in my early age. It inculcated in me a great deal the need for hard work, discipline and forced me to become independent” Angelle tells me and continues “while this was happening, it made me more observant of my parents especially my mother who like many African women, is ‘a silent hero’. She played a critical role in my father’s career and built up our entire family yet, women are not adequately recognised. My parents have a big influence in my life even till date. I thank God they are still alive and will reap the benefit of all their sacrifices to make us fulfil our potentials. I used the lessons I learnt from them to tutor my daughters. Children do not just do what their parents are telling them to do, they do what they see their parents doing. My parents are role models to me and I am trying hard to be the same for my daughters.” Says Angelle.

Angelle has always been driven by passion, having learnt early enough in life that one will always excel if you do what you enjoy doing. “I am very true to myself and try to stay authentic. In my career, I led various initiatives, changing activities and having dealings with various countries. From practicing law, to corporate law, to public policy and now to entrepreneurial activities and advocacy. Those changes have always been driven by my quest for bigger challenges. I meet many people who always ask me the same question: ‘what is next?’ truth is I don’t know. I strongly believe, staying in one’s comfort zone is very dangerous. If you want to reach higher heights, you need to be ready to face big challenges. The same way you can not harvest your honey if you run away from the bees. This is what has driven my career. I have surrendered to my passion even if it sometimes forces me to swim against the current but it has not failed me.” Angella discloses.

Rimsom Strategies is an international consulting firm that provides strategic and practical solutions to public and private sector clients seeking to do business between the emerging markets and the developed world. By offering government relations, financial advisory, international business development, public relations, advocacy, communications and capacity building services, they are able to transform needs into ideas and concepts which produce measurable business results and sustainable economic development.

As MD/CEO of Rimsom, hear Angelle’s view on Nigeria’s economy and intended relationship with Nigeria. “Nigeria has become a big engine for the entire continent’s economic growth for many reasons including the size of its economy, its great potential and a business environment that enables the private sector to grow. The recent African Leaders summit hosted by President Obama last August has ushered US – Africa relations into a new paradigm, with a stronger private sector involvement. Rimsom Strategies wants to be the bridge between Nigeria and the US.”

“We are also committed to serve as a bridge between Nigeria and other francophone countries. This falls under the general understanding that intra Africa trade can play a big role in the continent’s economic transformation as a whole. I am one of those who believe that Cameroon for example should take advantage of its proximity with Nigeria. I am doing that at a personal level. I am only 45 minutes (by flight) away from my home country. We have designed capacity building and non oil export programs to assist small and medium sized enterprises to meet international standards. If it works in Nigeria, it will work in other countries as we expand regionally.” Angella reveals.

The summary of Kwemo’s anecdote centres on promoting intra African trade, global positioning for Africa among many others and she ends the dialogue telling me the challenges involved. In her words, “the challenges are inherent to the nature of my profession. Opportunities abound in Africa and here at Rimsom Strategies, we are receiving projects almost every week. Everyone is requesting for financial partners and they all need access to capital. At the same time, there is a rush by Americans seeking for business opportunities in Africa and we are therefore spending a lot of time to explain that Africa presents investment opportunities not just contract opportunities.”

“Access to capital is a challenge. Also turning ideas into bankable project is paramount. Our job is to facilitate communication for both sides, especially as there are big cultural gaps. We want American firms to succeed in Africa and African firms to succeed in the global market helping them meet international standards. It is always challenging to serve as a catalyst. How do we service both in a cost effective way, having both sides exercise patience and teaching then to understand the process? You almost have to carry all the stress. At a personal level, it is not always easy as a woman but this is not discouraging at all to me. I have been a minority all my life. If you cannot climb a mountain, you go around it. The challenge is as big as the reward is. I have trust in my God. He will not give me a baby I cannot carry.” She concludes.

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