2014: Moving Forward – From the President

2014: Moving Forward – From the President

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.

1023 Filing

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.

Events

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.

Media 

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

African Community Business Roundtable with State Treasurer Steven Grossman

African Community Business Roundtable with State Treasurer Steven Grossman

On August 27th 2013 Africans in Boston was pleased to invite the current State Treasurer for Boston and candidate for the next Governor of Massachusetts Steven Grossman, or as he likes to be called Steve, to a roundtable event hosted by one of our local member businesses Addis Red Sea on 544 Tremont Street in Boston, MA.

The purpose of the event was to bring African business and community leaders together to have a candid discussion with Mr. Grossman on the state of doing business in Massachusetts and to discuss services currently available to assist individuals and groups with their entrepreneurial ventures. The gathering brought in 20+ participants. Mr. Grossman was kind enough to devote his time and energy to the AiB community at a very opportune moment as he recently announced his candidacy for Governor of Massachusetts in the 2014 election.

The event began with introductory speeches from the founder of AiB, Mr. Voury Ignegongba, and one of its prominent board members Mr. Samuel Gebru. Both Mr. Ignegongba and Mr. Gebru discussed the importance of members of the African diaspora community building their relationship with the state and taking full advantage of all the services at their disposal. The Treasurer is committed to working with immigrant entrepreneurs and community leaders to learn how the Government of Massachusetts can work with them to further their economic successes and enhance their civic engagement.

Mr. Grossman and the attendees engaged in a lively discussion and he stated from the outset that his intention for the gathering was to listen more closely to the issues that we all face in our daily lives. A large portion was centered on many of the 28-35 year olds who attended, understanding the various challenges, from taxes, to job training, to transportation, and the opportunities that the State of Massachusetts afforded individuals and what areas could be improved to further attract and retain young, talented individuals. The discussion then shifted to African diaspora community building in Massachusetts and the important role that capital generation played; including how to establish a pool of funds and target promising business ventures. Mr. Grossman with his extensive experience as State Treasurer and accomplished businessman previously, added a wealth of knowledge to the discussion. A further item of discussion included the role of academic institutions and community organizations in fostering bonds and educating the community, especially the youth. The night was capped off with an impassioned plea for greater political representation at all levels of government as a way of furthering the interests of the African diaspora community and was an issue that Mr. Grossman acknowledged and supported fully.

In summary, the event sparked a lot of insightful debate and interesting ideas posed from our incredible member community and left all attendees with something to think about.

Business Spotlight | South African Airways

Business Spotlight | South African Airways

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For citizens of the cradle of liberty, there is no better way to reach the cradle of mankind than through South African Airways (SAA), Africa’s most awarded airline.

A proud member of Star Alliance, SAA offers the fastest and most convenient service between Boston and Africa. Code share services through United and JetBlue ensure that SAA will get Bostonians to the continent quickly and comfortably via its morning non-stop service from New York and its afternoon direct service (via Dakar, Senegal) from Washington, DC (Dulles) to Johannesburg.  From Johannesburg, South African Airways provides travelers with the ability to connect to more than 40 cities in South Africa and throughout the continent, including Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, and Zambia.

SAA’s service is designed to make the hours fly by, and the journey has never been more comfortable, with state-of-the-art, wide body Airbus A340 aircraft, featuring individual, on-demand audio/visual entertainment systems at every seat on board. In Premium Business Class, sit back and relax in Skytrax 5-star comfort-rated, fully-flat bed seats, or enjoy SAA’s industry-leading legroom in Economy Class.  Every traveler on board is offered delicious international cuisine and the finest South African wines that have won the airline accolades from industry experts.

For more information and to book your flights, call 1-800-722-9675, or visit www.flysaa.com.

 

Africans in Boston Founder Voury Ignegongba and OCR Capital President Paul Mondello on MYOB

Africans in Boston Founder Voury Ignegongba and OCR Capital President Paul Mondello on MYOB

There were 1.4 million foreign born from Africa residing in the United States in 2007.

The 1960 census counted 35,355 African immigrants, a number that increased over 40-fold to 1,419,317 African immigrants in 2007. In 1970, there were 80,143 African immigrants in the United States, which grew to 199,723 in 1980, 363,819 in 1990, and 881,300 in 2000. This trend is especially true in Boston.

Business opportunities are also increasing and Rick Brutti looks at the dynamic growth sector and doing business in Africa with Voury Ignegongba President of Africans In Boston and Paul Mondello President of OCR Capital.

Voury, originally from Chad Founded Africans in Boston in 2010 with Akouassi Yao ( Cote d’Ivoire) and Arne Hessenbruch ( Denmark) to provide Africans and friends of Africans in Boston a platform that transcends the cultural, educational and professional barriers between different African communities living in the Boston area.

 

Click Here to Listen to the Podcast of the Interview
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Boston Marathon 2013 Bombings

Boston Marathon 2013 Bombings

On Monday April 15, 2013, two explosions disrupted the Boston 117th marathon killing three and leaving over 175 injured. The blasts occurred moments after the elite runners finished the race. The men’s winner was Lelisa Desisa Benti, a 23-year-old native of Ethiopia. He won in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 22 seconds. Micah Kogo of Kenya was second in 2:10:27 with Gebregziabher Gebremariam of Ethiopia third in 2:10:28. Wesley Korir, last year’s winner, was fifth in 2:12:30. Jason Hartmann of the U.S. was fourth in 2:12:12. The women’s division winner was Rita Jeptoo, a 32-year  Kenyan mother who also won in 2006. Jeptoo finished the race in 2:26:25.Meseret Hailu of Ethiopia was second in 2:26.58 and Sharon Cherop, the Kenyan who won last year, was third in 2:27.01. Shalane Flanagan of Marblehead, Mass., finished fourth.  Voury Ignegongba, President of Africans in Boston issued the following statement following the blasts:  “ Today's tragic event in our beloved town of Boston is a reminder of the crazy world we live in. There is no justification for these acts. We are reminded today about how fragile life is and how we should constantly reevaluate our interactions with one another. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims. Boston will prevail”. Voice Of America’s Ndimyake Mwakalyelye talked to Mr.  Ignegongba about the African Diaspora being affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.

The full version of the interview can be seen here:

 

Massachusetts State Representative Carlos Henriquez meets Africans in Boston

Massachusetts State Representative Carlos Henriquez meets Africans in Boston

On Sunday April 7, 2013 Massachusetts State Representative Carlos Henriquez  was the special guest of the Africans in Boston bi-weekly mixer Hakuna Sundays.  The event took place at Merengue restaurant located on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester. The gathering brought in 25+ participants who joined in to listen to Mr. Henriquez, enjoy the food and drinks on the menu and mingle. Africans in Boston members, guests, visitors started arriving at the venue around 6:30pm. At 7pm Voury Ignegongba, the President of Africans in Boston opened the session by welcoming everyone and highlighted the need for the organization to engage with local public officials to explore and find avenues to work together. Mr. Ignegongba’s remarks were followed by Mr. Samuel Gebru, Africans in Boston Board member who introduced the State Representative.  Mr. Henriquez talked about himself, his family and growing up in the area and how he ended up in the State House thanks to a mentor after failing to win a seat on the City Council. Mr. Henriquez also talked about the challenges faced by Dorchester such as violence and prostitution and the need for diversity in the police department. The State Representative noted that Dorchester and the area needed better branding. Mr. Henriquez indicated that the local newspapers such as the Bay State Banner and the Dorchester Reporter were great assets but more media work were necessary as the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald emphasized the negative news more frequently than the many success stories of outstanding young children graduating from high school and furthering their education by entering college. He went on to propose that high schools students from the Boston area be granted 10% of admission seats at the local colleges and universities since Boston is the world leading hub for education. Mr. Henriquez also spoke about his efforts to bring more businesses to the area citing Merengue Restaurant as a great example of what could be done. He pointed out the current need for a bakery on Blue Hill Avenue. He added that business incubator spaces were available that could boost employment in the area. He hinted that the focus should be on encouraging investments on small initiatives and diversifying the types of businesses so that the area could see more in addition to liquor stores, restaurants and barber shops.  During the Q&A that followed his intervention, the State Representative talked about his past involvement with the youth mentoring kids commenting that people under 30 lead movements. When asked if he would consider running for Mayor of Boston, Mr. Henriquez said that he was not ready and as a young 36-year-old politician, he would first focus on starting a family. He also indicated that raising $0.5 Million to run was not a small task.  He noted that he was motivated as an elected public official to get small things done such as fixing street lights or improving public health. Mr. Henriquez concluded the session by lecturing the audience on the mechanics of how things were done in the State House. He first made the distinction between activists and politicians saying that politicians are more tactful as they need to work with other elected officials that hold different views in order to pass a bill. He added that for example when the $32 Bn state budget needed to be allocated, politicians negotiated to decide the priorities. He went to explain the importance of super voters during the primaries indicating that were located in West Roxbury and South Boston and how the three neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan would play a critical role in the elections of the next Mayor of Boston. Representative Henriquez stressed the need for organizing the community urging churches to raise money to create a fund and negotiate a deal with a local bank. He touched upon initiatives that could bring more money to the City in addition to property taxes and parking tickets by questioning the fact that hospital, schools and universities pay limited taxes. He also discussed foreclosures and housing by emphasizing the need to protect homeowners. He cited the National Land Trust as a promising initiative. Mr. Henriquez ended by giving an example of some the issues that he and the other 159 representatives in the State House had to vote on such as the Governor $1.9Bn tax plan proposal for early education and transportation. The event ended around 10:30pm.

 

State Representative Carlos Henriquez can be reached at the following:

 

The Honorable Carlos Henriquez

State Representative (5th Suffolk District)

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

+1-617-722-2396

carlos.henriquez@mahouse.gov

Massachusetts State House, Room 136

Boston MA 02133

United States

Twitter: www.twitter.com/RepHenriquez

Profile: http://www.malegislature.gov/People/Profile/CTH1

Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley meets Africans in Boston

Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley meets Africans in Boston

On Sunday March 10, 2013 Boston City Councillor at-large Ayanna Pressley was the special guest of the Africans in Boston bi-weekly mixer Hakuna Sundays. The event took place at the Addis Red Sea Ethiopian restaurant located in the South End. The gathering brought 50+ participants to the venue. The diverse crowd included students, professionals, entrepreneurs, visitors and newcomers to the Boston area. Some were Kenyans, others were Nigerians, Benineses, Chadians, Ethiopians, Cameroonians, Ivorians, Haitians, Jamaicans, Americans, Caribbeans …

Ms. Pressley, a graduate of Boston University and a former Senior Aide to Congressman Joseph Patrick Kennedy II and United States Senator John Kerry  was introduced by Africans in Boston Board ‘s member Samuel Gebru and spoke for about 20 minutes on issues that she was working on such economic development, public school education, women and families, public safety. Then Africans in Boston President Voury Ignegongba made a few remarks welcoming Ms. Pressley to Hakuna Sundays and highlighting the opportunity to have a city representative for the entire City of Boston to engage with local Africans. During the Q&A sessions that followed, Ms. Pressley was questioned on the divide between Africans and African-Americans and education. She replied by emphasizing the need for understanding as it is important for communities to co-exist. She indicated that she’d happy to hear about how to incorporate programs about Africa in schools to help bridge the divide. The crowd then interacted one-on-one with Ms. Pressley while enjoying delicious Ethiopian meals.

Timbuktu Capital | 3 Steps to a Strong Financial Foundation

Timbuktu Capital | 3 Steps to a Strong Financial Foundation

TC-AIBWHEN: Tuesday,  January 29, 2013 | 6:30pm-9pm
WHERE:  Prudential Tower - 16th floor  | 800 Boylston Street - Boston, MA – 02467
WHAT: 30 minutes presentation by Ousmane Diagne, Investment Manager and Director of Timbuktu Capital –timbuktucapital.com - followed by 1-2 hour discussion and Q&A. Ousmane Diagne will cover the following: Elements of Financial Literacy ( Understanding the System); Entrepreneurial Spirit ( Rewards of entrepreneurship done the right way); Adaptive Personal Financial Plan ( applying your knowledge). Directions: Ask for elevators to go to the Top of the Hub or just Prudential Tower - same tall landmark - 16th floor-  T- stops: E Green line Prudential or C B D Green line Copley or Hynes Convention - Bus Route : 39
COST:    $99  (discounted to $0- FREE)
RSVP:  Please send your first, last name to  info@africansinboston.org – Seating is limited to 25
RSVP no later than Mon Jan 28, 2013- Bring ID because it is required to use the elevators to go up to the 16th floor -  Seating is limited to 25.

Dinner will be served: Pizza

 Timbuktu Capital Management, LLC offers financial planning and investment advice. (Financial planning includes tax planning, insurance planning, retirement planning and estate planning. Financial planning services may include consultations and/or written plans, which analyze a client's financial situation and makes appropriate recommendations for strategies and methods of implementation of the strategies.)

Ousmane Diagne has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Lafayette College, Easton PA. During his university studies Mr. Diagne recognized that his career would be in the world of investment and finance. While completing his engineering degree program, he also took numerous courses on finance, business, and investment to earn a degree in Economics and Business. Upon graduation he joined Charles Schwab, Inc., where he continued his studies in finance and financial management. He worked for several years as a trader, accumulating the market and investment knowledge and experience that are necessary to offer a complete package of financial management skills to his clients. The company weathered the difficulties of the recent recession, emerging stronger than ever.

Hakuna Sundays – 01.27.2013 | Suya Joint

Hakuna Sundays – 01.27.2013 | Suya Joint

hakunaHakuna Sundays | Africans in Boston networking mixer
WHEN: Sunday, January 27, 2013 | 6:30pm-10pm
WHERE:  Suya Joint | 25 Poplar Street – Roslindale, MA 02123
WHAT: Join us for a few drinks, tasty Nigerian cuisine and meet Africans, friends of Africans, professionals and students.

Mixer: Network and Relax.

Dress Code: Informal/Comfortable.

For more info, please contact Joycelina at 857-228-8833