The Need

  As identified in the late 1990ís, there is a tremendous need for infrastructure development in Sub-Saharan Africa. From the early days after colonial rule, the impression gathered over the last year after speaking with Africans who left the continent for better opportunity as well as those who remained on the continent through the struggle, is that America left the African Continent to the Europeans and others. It is also believed that the United States has not taken advantage of its competitive edge of human resources in the Black and Hispanic communities in winning over the population of Africa.

In America after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, disadvantaged individuals were given more opportunity to get involved in the economic mainstream. It was not until more than twenty years later that the benefits actually began to show in the economy of the predominant minority groups in America.

It was relatively easy to see the benefits in sports where brawn and natural talent was the order of the day. However, once the previously disadvantaged became more educated in areas that led the economy, the U. S. began to experience unprecedented growth in the economy. The fears and concurrent resistance to support minority involvement in the economy finally gave way to the recognition that more wage earners translate into more houses being sold, more refrigerators and cars being bought and more profits being made by the corporations.

Diversity became the order of the day for both economic and moral reasons. The request of The President as he prepared to sign the reauthorization bill to assess the extent of minority participation in projects funded by Overseas Private Investment Corporation, suggest that there continues to be an interest in utilizing all of our human resources to expand our positive influence around the globe. The more involved we as a nation become in addressing economic as well as social needs of developing nations, the more we can develop positive attitudes towards the United States and our citizens.

We believe the required ingredients are available to establish an economic link between Blacks, Hispanics and the faith community in America and Blacks in Africa. We also believe that Uganda or Mozambique can become an economic leader on the continent of Africa by taking the bold step to initiate a private equity fund and serve as a magnet to funds from other countries as well as the United States, which can change the economic landscape on both the African and North American Continents.

Since independence began spreading on the continent of Africa in the 1960ís, there has not been enough effort to match the transfer of skills with adequate financial resources to create a meaningful change in the economic landscape of Africa. We have spent the last year assessing strategies with various leaders in the trade and commerce sectors of Africa and The United States. The strategy also included meeting with large corporations with a widespread presence in Africa to get their input relative to involving the previously disadvantaged in the economic mainstream.

Some of those we met with were:

The C.E.O. of Daimler Chrysler, South Africa
The Chief Operating officer of Anglo American
A managing Director of Standard Corporate and Merchant Bank
A Delta automobile dealer in Botswana
The Managing Director of CSIR, the standard board for South Africa
The Managing Director of Group 5, the third largest contractor in South Africa
The Assistant Director Small Scale Mining, Department of Minerals and Energy, South Africa The Executive Mayor of Pochefstroom City Council
The Mayors of Pietermaritzburg and Durban in Kwa ZuluNatal
The Minister of Labor for Uganda
The National Advisor for ABSA Bank
Historically disadvantaged business owners in the Road Building Sector
Historically disadvantaged business owners in the Home Construction Sector
The Executive Directors of Public Pension Funds
The former Director General of Public Works
The former Premier of the Northwest Province in South Africa

There were many others in addition to the above list that were interviewed.

We also spoke with regular citizens in shopping centers, stores, churches, on airplanes and in airports, in an effort to get a clear understanding of the perspectives associated with economic involvement of the previously disadvantaged. We learned from differing racial backgrounds that there were significant obstacles to involving the historically disadvantaged. With a few exceptions, whites tended to believe that their forefathers had fought the colonialists and therefore they deserved what they had acquired and should not have to give up their superior positions in the economy. Blacks tended to believe that they would continue to be exploited within the economic sectors because they would need the group that wanted to hold on to the economy to involve them through teaching and sacrificing. They also felt that since there had been many years for the advantaged to voluntarily demonstrate their willingness to share resources and it had not happened in a meaningful way, it was not likely to improve without coercion by governments.

Our task is centered around the idea of creating the opportunity for the advantaged to see the economic benefits of involving the previously disadvantaged in the economic mainstream. We have chosen to identify resources within the global environment that would demonstrate a win-win situation for both groups. We concluded that OPIC and other OPIC type organizations around the world could be an ideal supporter of the catalytic private equity fund contributed to by African Countries and Pension funds in America with high minority enrollments. We also believe that the faith community, having sat quietly for so long while God was relegated to a persona-non-grata status in our schools, courtrooms and government, can continue to show its displeasure with trends in America, by becoming involved in the economy in a very meaningful way.

We believe that job development and beneficiation, such as allowed under AGOA for export to one of the largest economies in the world, the United States, coupled with the exportation of technology, excess capacity from the United States at both the small business and large business levels along with the introduction of U.S. goods and services in a meaningful and reinvigorated way, would also create a win-win for both economies.
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