Friday, November 02, 2007

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala @ TED

Feeding further into my passion for gender empowerment and entrepreneurship, and the fact that I believe that African women are the key to Africa’s future, I recently came across this talk that Ngozi Iweala gave at the TED conference that took place in Arusha, Tanzania, early in the summer of this year. In a project I developed and presented on for an old employer that I interned with in New York, many moons ago, I was trying to make a solid case for why I thought they should set up offices in Africa and do business there. I remember calling my father in Nigeria trying to get some help and input into it from him regarding Africa and the issue with aid and trying to get him to explain some of the long-standing relationships that a lot of the older corporations such as Coca Cola, Peugeot, etc, had had with Africa and why newer companies were so resistant to setting up businesses there in spite of the seeming success that those other ones had made. He was the one who said to me all those years ago that replacing aid for trade is the more realistic way to combat a lot of Africa’s core economic issues as well as embracing the risk with open arms. That was over 7 years ago and I remember seeing the look of light bulbs going off in the room full of American executives when I said this while concluding my presentation. To be honest, as a junior in college, I don’t know how much sense it made to me then, but I really did feel like I was on to something. So did they as well.
Fast forward to now. This talk by Mrs. Iweala puts a very interesting spin on the issue of aid and trade. Brilliant actually. Check it out here.

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