Washington, DC - On February 7th, 2012, the DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs invited local African business owners to participate in an intimate and interactive “African Business Roundtable.” The purpose of this convening was to provide a space for businesses to explore their shared experiences and challenges, and learn about policies and regulations that may be of unique interest to them.
The event was facilitated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy’s Regional Advocate, Ngozi Bell. As the Regional Advocate for the DC area, (as well as Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia), Mrs. Bell works to identify new issues and concerns around policy and regulations that affect small business owners.
The event was a great success as 11 African small business owners – representing an eclectic mix of ethnic backgrounds, tenures as well as lines of business – attended the two hour session. Participants were able to discuss issues and challenges that are unique to African businesses, and learn about regulations that may affect them. The businesses appreciated the opportunity to connect to others in the business community, and to articulate the kind of support they would need to grow their businesses in order to further contribute to the economic development in the District. Some examples of the most resonant themes that surfaced during this convening include access to capital and certification support.
The African Business Roundtable is one of the OAA’s burgeoning initiatives to further nurture a vibrant African business community in the District. Next on the calendar, is an African Business Seminar on April 6, 2012, an event designed to connect businesses of all sizes to resources, programs, and opportunities that are available through District agencies and beyond. As one of the participants mentioned in the meeting, “the convening was a great start which clearly illustrated the need for a network of businesses within which to offer support and share information with one another.”
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