2014 – Moving Forward
Happy New Year 2014!
2014 is here and it is a milestone year for Africans in Boston. Our vision is clear and we are moving forward. Africans in Boston Inc. is an organization that fosters the socio-economic and educational development of its members by offering a platform that connects the African Diaspora in the greater Boston area and in the state of Massachusetts. Founded in 2010, the organization provides various resources. The primary function of AiB is to represent its member base; to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by the African Diaspora and to provide value through our partnerships with key businesses and organizations. In this respect, AiB is dedicated to continuously improving the lives of its members. Our integrated approach to community development enriches community members experience through programs and services, and allows members to connect in many ways through events, radio/television, and social media. Our approach educates, entertains, and fosters business relationships and good citizenship throughout the community.
In the first quarter of 2014, Africans in Boston aimed to be a fully registered 501-c(3) non-profit organization. Once finalized, members and supporters of Africans in Boston will be able to make tax-deductible contributions to the organization.
Membership registration and database
Africans in Boston’s general membership list is growing (4000+). It is critical in 2014 and beyond to finalize a database that will contain members’ information (i.e. CRM tool). To that end, a member registration system on the website portal and on tablet devices (i.e. IPADs, Iphone) will play an instrumental role in adding new members to the database and in updating current member’s information.
In 2013, we hosted 27 Hakuna Sundays with an average of 25+ attendees, 2 Khona Monthly Socials and a New Year’s Eve soiree. We met with State Treasurer Steven Grossman during an African Community Business Roundtable, City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, City Councilor Tito Jackson, City Councilor Felix Arroyo, former school committee John Barros and state representative Carlos Henriquez as part of meetings series with our local public officials.
In 2014 and beyond, we need to put our AD Net Tuesdays series on the map by hosting guest speakers that will cover topics of relevance to the Diaspora ranging from business, arts to science, technology and culture. We will continue engaging local state officials in Massachusetts and from the continent ( i.e. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers).The new year will present a great opportunity for us to roll out our AiB Annual Gala and AiB Annual Expo, two major events that will showcase the best of what Africans in the area have to offer in art, fashion, business and innovation and bring revenues to the organization.
Comprehensive list of African organizations in Massachusetts
We have made significant progress in working with the different African organizations in Massachusetts and coordinating efforts when needed. That work needs to continue in 2014 and beyond as it will inspire more and more communities to better organize themselves. As the different organizations get structured, it will be easier to get accurate statistics on our populations and organize powerful sessions between the head of the organizations and local state officials to further our agenda.
In 2013, we have seen a push for a benefit oriented membership structure with the Ghana Association of Greater Boston (GAGB) and promising cultural initiatives by Senegaleses in Boston with both organizations under new leadership. Moving forward, we need to continue our efforts for greater levels of sophistication when it comes to structuring ourselves.
Comprehensive list of African businesses
A local economy that engages the different agents that will fuel it will thrive if we fully succeed in data logging a comprehensive list of African businesses in the area. That exercise needs to reach new milestones in 2014 and beyond as we have started identifying keys partners and businesses such as Teranga Restaurant, Addis Red Sea ( food and restaurant) Keoyo Inc. ( telecommunications and remittances/finance) and Sirtetch Solutions ( IT) that will play a critical role in that economy.
Boston 30+ school initiative and AD Net
We have attained new grounds in 2013 in reaching out to educational institutions such as Harvard, MIT, BU, BU School of Public Health, Tufts, Simmons College, Northeastern, Brown, Brandeis, Wellesley, UMass Boston, Suffolk in order to introduce Africans in Boston to the different heads of African Studies Programs and Centers as well as African Students organizations. This endeavor will continue in 2014 and beyond as Africans in Boston aim to bridge that gap with all the colleges and universities in the area. This work will serve as the core foundation in building our AD Net ( African Diaspora Network ) platform.
Technology and website
In 2014, we will invest in our website to deliver a state-of-the-art portal to our membership. The Africans in Boston website will serve as the go-to location when it comes to African affairs in the area. Functionalities such as a membership area, an online store, a sophisticated event page, a space for member to access The Africans in Boston monthly Review and exchange or perform transactions will be added. Africans in Boston apps will be implemented to be used on tablet devices. For example, an app prototype was built in 2013 to register attendees at Hakuna Sundays and will be fully available on an IPad Air device by the end January 2014. And of course, we cannot talk about members without a state-of-the art database.
There are currently 3 media channels that are available to members of the African Diaspora in Massachusetts: Africa kabisa - 88.1 FM (radio), the African Television Network of New England
(atnne.org) and the African in Boston Review (Print ). It is critical in 2014 to leverage these assets and build a comprehensive broadcasting agenda to produce radio shows, tv programmings and articles that will address African affairs locally and abroad (i.e. current crisis in South Sudan and Central African Republic).
SAA partnership and future partnerships
In 2013, we initiated a partnership with South African Airways to provide air transportation to members of Africans in Boston at discounted rates. In exchange, Africans in Boston is committed to promote South African Airways by providing the air line with ad banners on the AiB website and opportunities to sponsor local events. A successful partnership with South African Airways will open the door for future partnerships with other organizations and companies in other sectors (i.e. banking, insurance, healthcare, energy) and will create AiB Business Consortium that will be the driving engine of the AiB Annual Expo.
2015 and beyond
In 2015 and beyond, our operations will be rolled out nationally and internationally with AfricansIN
(Africans in DC, Africans in NYC, Africans in Montreal).
AiB will own real estate assets with a local AiB Building ( i.e office spaces)
AiB will offer services and programs to its members in the following fields: transportation, language translations, consulting, healthcare, sports, educational services, performing arts, youth development, mining, energy, agriculture
AiB will have the leverage to initiate a PAC (Political Action Committees) to first further its political agenda but also influence local and foreign policies.
AiB will have the leverage to put together a Think tank (i.e. African Research Institute of Boston)
2014 – Moving Forward
Around this time last year, I challenged each of you to take action and get involved with the work that is taking place at Africans in Boston because it is necessary to build capacity and to tackle challenges faced by the African Diaspora. Locally challenges include immigration, employment and housing and abroad challenges include energy, education and tensions in different regions of Africa. Last year the crisis in Mali started and Congo-DRC was still in the news. Today in addition to those, the Central African Republic and South Sudan are in turmoil. Africans in Boston’s ability to influence crisis on the continent and to address them effectively depends on a successful implementation of our agenda here in Boston.
Voury Ignegongba, President
Africans in Boston