Africa: U.S Makes Three-Year Commitment to African Entrepreneurs

obama south africa

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama land in South Africa

The U.S. African Development Foundation announced a three-year commitment July 3 to support President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, beginning in October 2013.

The Initiative is President Obama’s effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders, launched in 2010. Its new flagship program, the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, announced June 29, is designed to support young African entrepreneurs in ways that accelerate economic growth and strengthen democratic institutions across Africa.

The U.S. African Development Foundation will award up to 200 young Africans taking part in the Washington Fellows program from 2014 to 2016 with $25,000 entrepreneurship grants to initiate or expand their business and social enterprises in their home countries. USADF will help ensure that the opportunity to participate extends to the best and the brightest, even in remote and marginalized communities in Africa.

Obama announced the Washington Fellows program at a town hall meeting with students in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June. “We’ll focus on civic leadership and public administration and business and entrepreneurship, the skills you need to serve your communities and start and grow businesses and run effective ministries,” he said.

To read full article visit:

Photo taken from: the New York Times


Afreximbank: Putting Africa On The Map

Ekra: “Our Role Is To Ensure That Africa Trades With Itself”

The overspill of the credit crisis in the developed world drove a huge new demand for Afreximbank’s trade finance products, leading it to develop new partnerships with other multilateral institutions, the Bank’s chairman and president says.

THE GLOBAL CREDIT CRISIS THAT began in 2007 created a vacuum in the availability of finance for African counterparties, one that prompted a surge in demand for Afreximbank’s products. This, in turn, drove major changes to how the organisation funded its operations, according to Jean-Louis Ekra, the Bank’s chairman and president.

Very few African financial institutions had direct exposure to the kind of complex financial products that prompted the near collapse of banks in the developed world. However, the crisis rapidly turned into one of liquidity squeeze. Needing to cover positions at home and rebuild capital buffers quickly, banks in Europe and the US stopped lending. African banks who had previously relied on credit lines from their global counterparts found themselves cut off.

This absence of liquidity was reflected in a broader pull back from Africa by international investors and banks, who were looking to retrench and reduce their exposure to riskier assets. This compounded the problems caused by falls in commodity prices, prompted by weaker industrial demand in markets that consume Africa’s natural resources. With money hard to come by, companies started to turn to Afreximbank en masse.

Read the full article: African Business Magazine

The Young Professional’s Guide to Surviving a Terrible Week

The day started so well. Sunny skies. Light traffic on my morning commute. The debut, during a lovely luncheon, of a nonprofit video I’d written. My mood soared as I arrived back home that evening.

Then, like falling dominoes, one piece of bad news after another crashed down on my perfect little day.

Affixed to the door of my newly rented townhouse was a notice informing me the previous tenants hadn’t paid the mortgage. The home had been bought in a foreclosure auction. Not good.

Before I could fully grasp the implications of that, my husband arrived home with news of his own: he had lost his job. Really not good.

Later that night, I learned about family members facing major troubles—loved ones falling ill and friends deciding to divorce.

Image: Thinkstock

It’s going to get better. Follow these simple steps.

It felt like some sort of cosmic joke. Surely so much could not go wrong in such a short period of time. I spent a sleepless night full of so many worries I barely knew which stress to focus on.

I was a wreck the next day. How could I possibly work while it felt like the world was crashing around me? Exhaustion and stress consumed me, but I couldn’t miss the day.

If you have to face a catastrophic week, here’s how to work through it:

Read the rest at Black Enterprise

4 Steps to Put Your Savings on Autopilot

investingOver the years, I’ve observed a few things about people who are good savers. It’s not because they are the most frugal, have a budget that accounts for every single penny or make high salaries. Their strategy is simple: Make it automatic.

Putting your savings on autopilot simply means that you have set up a recurring amount to be deducted from your paycheck or checking account every pay period or per month. When I first started automating my finances I set up what Jacquette Timmons, founder of Sterling Investment Management, refers to as a “no-matter-what savings strategy.” I committed to saving a fixed-amount regardless of how my financial life changed. The biweekly savings started as low as $50 per month until I was able to work my way up to saving 15%. Odds are, you won’t even miss the money.

“You must create a savings strategy so that you can back your actions into a goal,” says Timmons. “If you don’t have a strategy you are less likely to save and you diminish the probability of meeting your goals in the time frame you outlined. You’ll say, ‘I’ll do it next time’ and then a year from now, you’ll realize you haven’t met your savings goal.”

How many of you can relate to financial procrastination? No need to be bashful here; we’re in this together and we’ll take it one week at a time until you too can say, “I follow Wealth for Life Principle No. 4; I save at least 10 percent of my income.”

Read more: Black Enterprise

Photo Credit: Femalepreneur Lounge

Dark Girls: A Reflection


dark girls

Last Sunday, the Oprah Winfrey Network premiered the long anticipated documentary entitled “Dark Girls,” a film which opens up about deep seeded biases and attitudes toward skin color in communities of people of color throughout the world, especially among the black community.  According to the directors, “the documentary explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within varies cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe.”

The documentary was powerful to say the least as it left a mark of sadness on my soul for both the world’s inability to see our own beauty as well as our own. The message that particularly resonated with me  is the dire need to uplift women of color. We need to know that we are all beautiful regardless of our varying amounts of melanin. Our beauty as women of color transcends Western standards and is so marvelous because of its uniqueness. We, as women must work toward building our pride and self-esteem and the self-esteems of all the young women around us because people with a strong sense of cultural pride are more likely to create positive change and success in their lives. Ladies, if you have not seen this amazing documentary I encourage you all to watch.

“We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”

-Langston Hughes: “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”

Visit the official “Dark Girls” website:

Photo Credit: Official Dark Girls Movie

How To Brag At Work (Without Sounding Like A Jerk)

When it comes to having a successful career, there is no substitute for hard work. But on the other hand, hard work won’t do you any good if your accomplishments are going unnoticed.

If you’re anything like me, you probably believe your work should speak for itself, and that the idea of tooting your own horn sounds, well, obnoxious. But waiting around hoping your good work will catch the boss’s eye could be preventing you from getting the recognition—and possibly the promotions—you deserve at work.

But how do you let people know about your good work without sounding like a jerk? Here are a few techniques I’ve found successful.

Track Your Successes Two women shaking hands

If someone were to ask you, “What did you do this month at work that you are most proud of?” would you be able to answer? Maybe not—it’s very easy to get stuck in the day-to-day grind of work and forget to take note of all the great things you do for the company.

So, make a plan for how you’re going to stay on top of them. While this won’t necessarily get your successes noticed, it will help you be more aware of them so you can know what to share with other people.

Find out how to do this at Forbes

Dominate At Your Next Conference.

photo-4Today I had the chance to attend The Economist Africa Summit featuring influential speakers who discussed the next generation of African innovation and leadership. Conferences such as these offer a great opportunity to meet key people in your field and gain insight on emerging trends.

Over the years I’ve attended dozens of conferences and for the most part I didn’t really enjoy them. I never left feeling energized or got any great contacts but this time was different. I finally understood what people had been saying all those years about the usefulness of conferences. For the first time I felt like I was in the zone and making meaningful connections. With Social Media Week coming to Lagos in just a couple of weeks and Blogging Ghana hosting their second annual Blog Camp for bloggers and social media users, there are two great opportunities to learn more about digital marketing and social media regardless of career field and develop relationships.

Conferences can be exciting, rewarding, and lead to your next business opportunity so follow these four tips to help you dominate at your next conference:

Decide In Advance What You Want To Get Out Of the Conference.

Do you want to meet a particular speaker? Are you looking to get on the radar of a sponsoring organization? Fully taking the time to review the schedule and bios of the speakers will help you understand what you can do to best take advantage of the conference. Once you’ve set a goal of whom you’d like to meet and when, feel free to reach out to them in advance by sending an email or tweet on Twitter. Introducing yourself in advance gives you the chance to start to build a relationship before you meet or to even set up a one-on-one meeting during the conference.

Use Social Media To Get Noticed.

Most conferences are now actively encouraging participants to take the conversation out of the meeting rooms and share it with the online community. This is a great opportunity for you to interact and speak with other conference participants before and after the conference. If you’re on Twitter use the official conference hashtag and share your experiences on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Smile and Mingle 🙂

If you attend a conference by yourself you may be tempted to sit in the corner by yourself but that is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Go find a group of people you don’t know and sit by them. During breaks, smile and say hello to everyone that passes you. Sometimes we make networking harder than it has to be but at its core its all about getting to know people and making friends. The first step to doing that is often just a smile and a hello.

Be Brave And Ask Questions.

When speakers and panels leave time for questions they are sincere in their interest to dialogue with attendees and hear new perspectives. If you had a question or concern with something you heard here is your chance to get that question answered and to distinguish yourself in the eyes of the speakers. It may be nervous or scary to stand up in front of an audience but this is great practice in public speaking and leadership. Speak clearly, announce your name, and keep it simple and short.

Follow Up and Keep The Conversation Going.

When making connections at events, exchanging business cards or emails is a great way to remember the people you’ve met and begin developing relationships. But don’t just throw those cards in the corner and forget everyone you’ve met. Use this opportunity to follow up with the person within 2-3 days after the event. Don’t just send a quick email but take the time to mention and share something you discussed and also even connect with them on LinkedIn or Twitter. Be careful to not include those emails in your general friend list because you don’t want to tarnish your professional image by forwarding messages only meant for your closest mates.