Local summit to stress trade partnerships with Africa and Caribbean

The African and Caribbean Business Council of Greater Philadelphia will hold its 8th Annual Winter Summit and Awards Dinner this weekend as part of a two-day series of programs aimed at developing trade partnerships between governmental and private agencies.

The summit, which runs from Friday through Saturday at the Philadelphia Airport Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, will bring together African, Caribbean and American entrepreneurs and government officials to discuss expanding trade among U.S., African and Caribbean businesses.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs have considerable difficulties getting financing and technical assistance to do business in Africa and the Caribbean,” said Stanley L. Straughter, chair of ACBC board of directors.

“This year’s international business summit will bring together experts to address these issues," he added. "The African and Caribbean Business Council is the only business organization in the Philadelphia region that specifically focuses on trade with African and Caribbean nations and is connected to the fast growing markets in Africa and the Caribbean through its partners and membership.”

Summit presenters will include representatives from the federal agencies such as the Department of Commerce, Agency for International Development and Overseas Private Investment Corporation as well as city, state and regional agencies such as the Philadelphia Commerce Department, Pennsylvania Department Agriculture, Delaware River Port Authority and Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

Ambassadors along with agriculture, commerce and energy officials from 14 African and Caribbean nations will be among the participants as they seek potential partners on major infrastructure, hotel, airport and renewable energy projects.

Agribusiness is Pennsylvania’s largest industry and is rapidly expanding in Africa and the Caribbean. Friday’s focus on agribusiness will feature workshops on financing and investment, production, marketing, technology and innovation.

Cheryl Cook, deputy secretary of the state's Department Agriculture, will discuss government programs available to agribusinesses.

Saturday’s program includes a variety of workshops on financing, doing business in Africa, energy, waste management, transportation, aquaculture and hospitality.

The day includes discussion of ACBC’s strategic plan for Africa and culminates with the annual awards dinner presided over by City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans and state Sen. Sharif Street.

“I’m honored to have my colleagues join me in the leadership of this year’s awards dinner,“ said Blackwell, who has served as chair of the dinner since 2006.

“ACBC is playing a vital role across the city of Philadelphia organizing the African and Caribbean immigrant business community and has developed an African and Caribbean economic growth agenda for Philadelphia," he said.

"My colleagues and I look forward to working with ACBC to open markets in African and Caribbean nations for exports from small business entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia area,” Blackwell added.

Kerry Kirkland, who leads the state's Department of General Services efforts for diversity, inclusion and small business opportunities, is the keynote speaker of Saturday’s awards dinner. He is expected to speak on state contract opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.

“It is estimated that trade from African countries to the Philadelphia ports is in excess of $10 billion,” said Straughter.

“ACBC has developed a trade initiative to create opportunities for Philadelphia-area small and minority enterprises to export their products, goods and services to the fast-growing markets in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. This is about connecting and expanding opportunities. Africa and the Caribbean are open for business.”

For registration information call Rogers Kounga at (267)-581-9754 or go to