International business leaders from several African nations along with faculty experts from California State University, Dominguez Hills and other institutions met during the third annual Pan African Global Trade and Investment Conference held at the university on Oct. 18 and 19.
The conference was designed to establish a U.S.-based public/private coalition that serves to develop and implement policies and strategies for bilateral economic development between the U.S., the African continent, and the African Diaspora. Munashe Furusa, executive director of the California African American Political and Economic Institute (CAAPEI) and acting dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at CSU Dominguez Hills, said since its inception, the conference has successfully connected people internationally from public and private enterprises by providing a forum for discussion.
Conference panelists included representatives from Los Angeles Operation HOPE, California Black Agriculture Working Group, L.A. District Office of the Food and Drug Administration, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and African Marketplace, The African Times-USA, Long Beach International Trade Office, Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports, U.S. Department of Commerce-Los Angeles, U.S. Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, to name a few.
Salim Faraji, associate professor and chair of Africana studies served as a panelist for the session “Health, Justice and Food Sovereignty for Africa & People of African Descent.” Along with Faraji, other CSU Dominguez Hills faculty who served as panelists were M. Keith Claybrook, Jr., lecturer of Africana studies, who helped lead “The Decade of the Diaspora;” Jim Katzenstein, assistant professor, management, who paneled on Pan African business opportunities showcase and workshops; Charles Hunt, senior program development specialist for the College of Extended and International Education, paneled on “Trade Connect Resource,” which was moderated by Tayyeb Shabbir, professor of finance, accounting, finance and law.
Opening the two days of sessions, keynote speaker Soren Peterson of Orbisun International Holdings, Inc., a leading company that focuses on humanitarian efforts through employment and entrepreneurship, analyzed conventional business strategies and the range from profitability to philanthropy.
CSU Dominguez Hills alumna, Congresswoman Karen Bass served as the second day keynote speaker. She is the ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Sub Committee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. Bass stated that one of the reasons she sought office was to work on African issues, noting that during the ’70s and ’80s she had been active in supporting antiapartheid and liberation struggles and recently had returned to African American and African Diaspora-related issues, including establishing an alliance that helped to pass the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
“The timing of your conference is really critical because we need to begin to work on the extension of that trade agreement, which expires in a couple of years,” Bass said.
The conference was originated and moderated by Al Washington, executive director of the Africa-USA International Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
For more information about the conference or CAAPEI, call (310) 243-2175 or visit www.csudh.edu/caapei.