Posted at 11:13 AM
Created on June 30, 2014
Candace Shiver, Special Advisor to the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency
I recently participated in the 2014 Agribusiness and Food World Forum in Cape Town, South Africa from June 17-19. The forum, hosted by the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association and the Corporate Council on Africa, brought together more than 500 business leaders, government officials, industry experts, students, and academia from more than 30 countries.
The forum’s presentations and discussions emphasized the importance of U.S. private sector involvement and investment in the critical agriculture and agribusiness sectors of the region. In sub-Saharan Africa, the industries are projected to collectively grow from $313 billion today to $1 trillion by the year 2030.1 Contributing to Africa’s food systems will help to build capacity in emerging markets, enhance food security, and promote U.S.–Africa relations through the imparting of best practices and technical and business knowledge between farmers and entrepreneurs of all sizes.
In support of the Department of Commerce’s ”Open for Business Agenda” and the NEI/Next campaign, MBDA seeks to increase opportunities for U.S. minority-owned firms to export their products and services by gaining access to the growing new markets in agriculture and agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa. We are building new relationships across the region, while also promoting the value of strategic partnerships among minority firms in the U.S. and Africa, which are keys to successful exporting.
While in South Africa, I had the privilege of meeting Vivian Kleynhans, CEO of Seven Sisters Wines, who developed a partnership with Selena Cuffe, co-founder and CEO of Heritage Link Brands, which is based in the United States. The partnership shared between the two black entrepreneurs represents a remarkable model of how together, minorities can penetrate new and even unexpected markets in a country where blacks represent 80 percent of the South African population, yet the country’s $3 billion wine industry has less than 2 percent black ownership. Seven Sisters is an exceptionally successful company that now supplies wine to more than 300 Wal-Mart stores nationwide, and is seeking expansion across Africa and new export opportunities throughout Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
We believe in the importance of such collaboration, and we are committed to expanding opportunities for minority firms to participate in international trade in industries including agriculture and agribusiness, through which business and economic growth, global competitiveness, and significant job creation can be achieved.
We encourage you to visit www.mbda.gov/africa to keep up with our latest efforts to help connect U.S. companies to contacts and markets in Africa.