The recently formed Africa Business Council plans to connect Atlanta businesspersons with potential partners in Africa and to improve Georgians’ image of the continent, said Nell Diallo, founder and president of the council.
The council is to organize business forums and networking receptions to host African trade delegations here and to expose visiting officials to the Atlanta business community, she said.
The group most recently organized a Georgia-Senegal business forum that took place May 20 with the help of Africa Voice Business, an Atlanta-based radio program that addresses African issues, and Africa Connections International Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the rights of African women.
Ms. Diallo is currently the managing director of MedShare International Inc., an Atlanta-based non-profit organization that collects and redistributes surplus medical supplies to developing nations.
A native of Birmingham, Ala., Ms. Diallo spent the last 16 years working with international organizations in Burkina Faso, Congo and Togo, travelling extensively throughout Africa. Most recently, Ms. Diallo ran an importing business in Ouagadou, Burkina Faso, where she imported goods from England, Ghana and Italy.
“Contrary to popular belief [in the United States], in every major city in Africa there is a functioning chamber of commerce,” Ms. Diallo said, noting that African business structures and legal systems often operate similarly to American ones.
Ms. Diallo, who moved to Atlanta recently, has already partnered with the Georgia African Growth and Opportunity Act Commission that works to link Georgia businesses to markets in sub-Saharan Africa. She worked with the group on an October seminar that addressed the challenges of development in the region. Guest speaker, Mamphela Ramphele, co-chair of the United Nations Global Commission on International Migration and senior advisor to the president of the World Bank, endorsed the business council’s projects during the event.
Ms. Diallo also worked with AGOA on a class she recently helped teach at Emory University that addressed issues of economic development in Mali and Senegal.
She plans to hold an African stock market seminar in September, she said.
Through the council, Ms. Diallo hopes to improve the image of Africa in the U.S., which she believes is the continent’s greatest impediment to investment, noting that famine, HIV/AIDS and tribal wars are often overly associated with the continent.
“Having lived there for 16 years, I know that the larger portion of Africa is not at all related to that, ” she said.
Ms. Diallo has worked as a consultant for the United Nations and headed development programs in Africa for the U. S. Agency for International Development. She relocated to the U.S. after collaborating with Atlantans on projects in Africa and believes the city is an excellent location for promoting the image of Africa in the U. S., she said.
For more information about getting involved with the council, contact Ms. Diallo at (404) 408-7611 or by email at email@example.com.
To find out more about AGOA or the Georgia AGOA commission, visit www.agoa.gov or contact Davidayon Mayers-Kelley at (404) 215-9267.