BAO talks to Joyce Akpata, the new Director-General of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce on her new role and what makes NACC stand out from other foreign business relations initiatives
Question 1: Congratulations on your new job. Can you provide us with a sneak preview of what Nigeria-America Chamber of Commerce is all about?
Thank you. The Nigerian- American Chamber of Commerce is Nigeria’s premier bilateral chamber whose primary focus is the promotion of trade and investment between Nigeria and the United States. This is a task it has efficiently carried out since its inception in 1960. It has over the years sought to continually promote the best of Nigeria to the US and vice versa. We are also committed to offering windows of opportunities and potentials for export of non-oil products to the US and the attraction of foreign direct investments into critical sectors of the Nigerian Economy.
Question 2: How does Nigeria-America Chamber of Commerce work?
As a Business Membership Organization, membership is only open to corporate bodies. We currently have over 300 members spread across 8 chapters, 7 in Nigeria and 1 in Houston, US. We create value for our members continuously and facilitate business-to-business relationships. The services we offer to our members include:
- Business matchmaking and networking between Nigerian and American businesses
- Organizing trade missions into both countries,
- Organizing training programmes, conferences and seminars addressed by leading authorities in different fields, affording members and non-members a platform for quality engagement and knowledge sharing.
- Providing avenues for Nigerian and American businesses to showcase their products and services
- Advocacy engagements to relevant policy and decision makers
- Supporting the non-oil export aspirations of manufacturers, agro-producers, etc. through off-taker engagement schemes and strategic relationships.
We also partner with organizations and departments of government in the execution of their corporate objectives.
Question 3: What in your opinion makes NACC stand out from other foreign business relations initiatives?
Our rich pedigree, diverse membership base nationwide, an impressive branch network and membership which cuts across various industries. As a Chamber, our members are our pride and we strive to continuously improve the quality of membership and strive to strengthen our relationships with members by supporting and adding value to their businesses.
Question 4: How has trade evolved between Nigeria and U.S.A?
The United States is one of Nigeria’s greatest trading partners and is undeniably a most important diplomatic partner. The United States established diplomatic relations with Nigeria in 1960, following Nigeria’s independence. The United States is one of the largest foreign investors in Nigeria, with U.S. foreign direct investment concentrated largely in the petroleum, agriculture and wholesale trade sectors. U.S. exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, refined petroleum products, civilian aircraft and parts, and plastics. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which is a great incentive for Nigerian industrial growth and value creation and export of the Nigerian non-oil products. U.S. imports from Nigeria include cocoa, rubber, returns, antiques, shea butter, garri etc. The United States and Nigeria have a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
Question 5: In which sectors are American investors more involved in Nigeria? What are the major challenges they face?
Nigeria has the largest market in Africa with a population of more than 180 million people. It is also the gateway to the West African market with a population of nearly 400m people. The Nigerian claim to leadership of much of Africa is not fanciful. As recently as 2014, McKinsey and Co. had predicted that Nigeria had the makings to grow 7.1 percent yearly until 2030 and build a $1.6 trillion economy. In March 2016, PwC published a report, “Nigeria: Looking beyond Oil,” that raises the Nigerian economy to the top 10 in the world in 2050 with a projected GDP of $6.4 trillion. To be able to achieve these objectives, Nigeria will need friends beyond herself.
American investors are involved in the following sectors;
- Consumer goods and the retail industry (including online shopping);
- Real estate
- Information and communications technology;
- Food and agriculture; and
- Infrastructure (especially power and transportation).
- Oil and gas
Question 6: What are the expectations for Nigeria-America Chamber of Commerce for 2017?
We are optimistic that 2017 will be a good and rewarding year which will see the Nigerian economy begin a gradual recovery from the recession from which it has suffered in the past 2 years. Being a membership organization, our sustainability depends largely on the success of our members businesses so it is our hope that in this year business will thrive beyond expectations. As the Nigerian economy looks beyond oil, the U.S offers a unique market for its non-oil products, technology, agriculture, trade etc. We are currently working on a two city trade mission to the U.S which we expect will connect many businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. Nigeria is also expected to grow stronger in the IT sector and to draw a lot of its inspiration from the Silicon Valley. Lately, Mark Zukerberg the Facebook founder paid a landmark visit to Nigeria which was not only a great inspiration to the local IT industry but also to the Nigerian business sector at a time of low business morale. The visit underscored the potentials of the Nigerian market and the significance of the relationship with the American economy in developing the potentials. We of the NACC were very pleased with this symbolic development and intend to build on it and to encourage similar exchanges. We would continue to work with the Commercial Department of the American Embassy to develop trade between the two countries. In the next few years, we would intensify the opportunity offered by AGOA, mentioned above, to develop trade between the two countries significantly.
African Bank Appoints Kennedy Bungane, CEO
African Bank New CEO, Kennedy Bungane (Press Release & Image: African Bank)
African Bank (“Board”) announces the appointment of Mr. Kennedy Bungane as the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and as an executive director of the Bank and its holding company, African Bank Holdings Limited (“ABH”) effective 14 April 2021. The Bank confirms that the appointment of Kennedy was done in accordance with African Bank’s policy on the selection and nomination of executive directors, and in order to fill a vacancy as well as add to the skillset on the Board.
Kennedy brings over 20 years of banking experience with him, having started his career at Standard Bank in 1991, holding a number of senior positions, including Head of Global Markets Sales, Head of Institutional and Corporate Banking, CEO Corporate and Investment Banking for Standard Bank South Africa, and a member of the Standard Bank Group Executive Committee. After joining Barclays Africa in 2012 as Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Limited and Head of Absa Group strategy, Kennedy led the sale of Barclays Africa Limited to the ABSA Group. More recently, Kennedy headed up the Phembani Group as its CEO. He also brings investment and strategic experience gained as the founder and chairman of Nokeng Telecoms and chairman of Idwala Capital.
Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a Master of Business Administration, and completed the advanced management program at the Harvard Business School (USA).
Commenting on Kennedy’s appointment, the Chairman of the Board, Thabo Dloti, stated, “We welcome the appointment of Kennedy as the new permanent CEO. Kennedy has a keen sense for managing complex stakeholder issues. He has a proven track record in identifying and nurturing leadership, which promotes strong teams to deliver successful results. His passion for the role that banking can play in transforming society resonated strongly with the Board.
As an experienced banker, he also critically has a good grasp of the strategic challenges facing the Bank, within a muted South African economy and competitive landscape, as well as the required regulatory and governance framework.
African Visionary Fund (AVFund) Appoints New co-CEO, Atti Worku
African Visionary Fund (AVFund) New co-CEO, Atti Worku (Source: African Visionary Fund Website)
About a year ago, African Visionary Fund launched with a bold mission to tackle the inequities and power imbalances in global philanthropy by driving unrestricted resources to African visionaries. At the heart of all they do their values of equity and solidarity, which compel them to center African voices at every level of the organization. They are thrilled to announce the Fund’s new Africa-based co-CEO, Atti Worku!
Atti brings a wealth of experience in the nonprofit world, is a strong advocate for local founders, and is dedicated to righting the historic funding inequity that can hold them back. Prior to joining the Fund, Atti founded and led Seeds of Africa for over 10 years. Seeds is an Ethiopian grassroots organization dedicated to developing the educational foundation for the next generation of African leaders. Under her leadership, Seeds grew from an after-school program serving 15 kids to becoming a full-time multi-dimensional school educating 250 students from pre-K to middle school, and working with over 150 of their mothers providing small business entrepreneurship micro-loans and resources. In just over a decade Seeds has impacted the lives of over 2,000 people, transforming the trajectories of students, teachers, mothers, and their families and creating a future brimming with possibilities beyond a poverty trap.
“My mission is to advocate for African visionaries to be recognized by funders as experts, equal partners and critical drivers of systems change. I’m excited to learn from incredible African leaders with big dreams and even bigger global potential.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO
The African Visionary Fund is built on the firm belief that proximity matters. Seeded by a group of foundations and philanthropists who wanted to not only take action on equity but also be intentional about shifting the power over resources to African visionaries, shared leadership has been part of the Fund’s DNA from the beginning.
“Co-leadership is mission critical. We cannot build new models for equity-centered philanthropy without living those values within our own institution.” -Katie Bunten-Wamaru, AVFund co-CEO
The AVFund’s organizational journey started with collective and shared leadership in mind as our Founding Working Group worked with our leadership to inform and design all aspects of our organization and funding model. This majority-African, majority-doer group considered a number of different leadership structures for the Fund but gravitated towards co-leadership because it prioritizes proximity and equity, centers the experience of African visionaries, and ultimately helps us shift power.
Our Founding Working Group proved that we can co-create new models of philanthropy centered on collective leadership that shift power and center equity – our co-leadership model is the natural, values-aligned extension of that founding idea.
Atti’s lived experience as an African founder has given her firsthand experience of the realities and complexities that local innovators face, making her a great partner in executing the Fund’s mission.
“This role is very personal to me. I see myself in the ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs we engage with at the AVFund. I hope to learn from them, and partner with them to redesign funding systems that give African visionaries an equitable chance of success.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO
The barriers for African visionaries have been well documented with data showing that less than 5.2% of US foundation giving specific to Africa goes to African-led organizations. And in Atti’s experience, sometimes philanthropy’s oversight of African founders translates into a heavy emotional toll, an internal struggle she also had to deal with in her experience fundraising for her organization. She is committed to helping other African visionaries by being “the voice that reassures and validates them in the face of injustices.”
“Raising philanthropic dollars can be a long trauma for African social entrepreneurs and other leaders of color. On one hand, you’re doing innovative, high-impact work, but on the other, you are constantly being asked to prove yourself on a level far beyond your peers, doing so, and somehow still falling short. Aggregate data on racial inequity in philanthropy already speaks volumes, but systemic injustice is deeply personal. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t the problem,” Atti shared.
At the core, the AVFund seeks to create a bridge between global philanthropy and innovative African social changemakers and to do that, it’s critical to have proximity to both our visionary partners and our funding partners. Shared leadership makes this possible.
“There is an inherent tension in the work of the AVFund – we call it the ‘play the game, change the game’ balance. We want to support African social changemakers to play the game to access more sustainable funding now, while also challenging the status quo in ways that build a more equitable philanthropic ecosystem in the long run,” Katie explained. “There will always be a need to balance this tension – having a co-leadership model helps us balance both sides of our work and not lose sight of either goal.”
Having been on both sides of the table, Atti believes a further added benefit of co-leadership lies in the fact that representation matters. “I have been a micro-funder through Seeds and have seen the value of someone like you believing in your vision and empowering it,” she shared.
“At AVFund, we celebrate and choose co-leadership because we recognize the importance of diversity for strong, grounded and authentic leadership.” -Melizsa Mugyenyi, Advisory Board Member.
Atti joins the Fund at a crucial season of our organizational journey as we look to deepen our impact across the continent – we are more than a third of the way towards reaching our goal to raise US$10 million which will enable us to provide 35 nonprofits across Africa with unrestricted, multiyear grants by 2023.
In the near-term, the Fund is also on track to commit atleast another $US1 million later this year and partner with more African social innovators. Atti is particularly excited to work with those at the forefront of leading-edge innovations whose potential for impact is inhibited by lack of resources and buy-in from funders.
“African visionaries aren’t often given the resources they need to validate the new concepts they have which really makes innovation very difficult. A lack of unrestricted funding for the disruptive ideas coming out of Africa limits potential and slows development. I’m ready to help change that in every way we can!” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO
Rolake Rosiji, ex-Country Manager M-KOPA Solar Appointed As The New CEO Of Jobberman Nigeria
Rolake Rosiji, CEO at Jobberman (Source: ROAM)
Jobberman, the single largest job placement platform in sub-Saharan Africa, has announced the appointment of Rolake Rosiji as the new CEO. Rolake takes over from Hilda Kragha, now Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs, and will continue the work of establishing Jobberman as the primary platform for job searching, talent acquisition and transforming workplace productivity across Nigeria.
Jobberman’s technology-driven platform, which uses tools such as application tracking, data science for skills and personality assessment, connects over 1 million job seekers to employers. With over a decade of experience in the recruitment industry, the company has built a reputation of trust and strong partnerships with the country’s most coveted employers; matching talented candidates with jobs according to their skillset.
Rolake joins Jobberman with a decade of global experience in strategic leadership and operational excellence. Most recently, she led the technology and sales operations for credit financed smartphones and solar power sets as Country Manager of M-KOPA Nigeria; a connected asset financing company that makes financing for everyday essentials accessible to everyone. Prior to that, she was Head of Strategy & Business Development for Arla Foods Africa, where she developed distribution and joint venture partnerships across West Africa to rapidly scale up sales and worked in Corporate Strategy roles in Denmark and the USA. Her proven track record of business expansion projects, digital and technical transformation and executing strategic partnerships will be key to her implementation for growth and development of the brand.
Commenting on her new role as CEO, Rolake Rosiji said “This is a very exciting chapter in my career and I am delighted to be joining such a passionate and innovative team. Jobberman has built a brand of excellence by using technology to revolutionise the recruitment sector. I look forward to steering the company vision to build a market of greater technology adoption, democratic access and transparency that will tackle dominant challenges, notably youth unemployment and underemployment. It is a privilege for me to be at the helm of this dynamic team as we set out to empower job seekers with key skills and improve workplace productivity for employers in Nigeria.”
Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs added “I am delighted that Rolake has taken on this position. Rolake’s expertise, understanding of different markets and high performance is what makes her the perfect person to anchor the next phase for Jobberman. I look forward to working with her to take Jobberman to even greater heights.”
Rolake took on her role as CEO on February 1st 2021. Her focus will be to broaden the impact beyond the white-collar space and continue to work closely with Jobberman’s impact partners in tackling youth unemployment in Nigeria.