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Second Annual Afrifest: Enlightenment, Diversity and Unity


Monday, September 8, 2008
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Minneapolis, MN– Afrifest, the summer’s second Pan African festival in the twin cities, continued its second annual festival celebrating African arts and culture.

This year the festival’s theme Enlightenment, Diversity and Unity to continue in the Afrifest spirit of celebrating Africa’s contribution to humanity.

Nathan White, Afrifest’s founder, Nathan White organized a four-day event that included a Pan African Business Expo, a concert by Congolese musician Awilo Longomba, friendly soccer matches and a Pan African history display.(See separate story)

During the Pan African Business Expo, a small but energetic group of African immigrants met with members of the African business community where they discussed how African immigrants can make a significant impact in the US economy.

The Executive Director of African Chamber of Commerce, Somali-born Martin Mohammed called on African immigrants whose collective economic worth is “now estimated at $ 45 billion” to work together as a vibrant “consumer segment” with a voice.

Yvonne Cheung Ho, President and CEO of Metropolitan Economic Development Association advised African immigrants to look at a few role models like Kwaku Addy (owner of Pan African Mall) for inspiration, underscoring the fact that America is a land of immigrants.

Richard T. Venegar, President and CEO of Milestone Growth Fund with vast experiences in food, packaging, media, consumer goods, telecommunications, printing, consumer retail and electronics emphasized on the need for emerging African entrepreneurs to look for strategic partners to team up with and enroll in their boards.

Venegar said that businessmen must display a clear image of commitment and show an unquestionable life of integrity, accept their shortcomings and team up with smart people who bring into the business a wealth of their experiences and network contacts.

He said, “don’t be afraid to partner with organizations that may need you as much as you need them,” adding that in business we are dealing with a block building process, step by step. People with specialized skills should be included in our business circles and “we should take advantage of the volunteer spirit of the American people.”

Prior to joining Milestone, Venegar was senior vice President of Pacesetter Capital Group, a $ 250 million private equity fund based in Dallas, Texas.

Addy was singled out as an exemplary role model for a successful African immigrant entrepreneur.

Addy’s entry into the business world was no easy task as he had to sacrifice, not only capital, but also a well-paying job. His carefully charted efforts have been well rewarded.

What was anticipated to be the biggest annual Pan African Arts, Culture and Music Festival with talent shows, fashion displays, food, merchandize and other rare items that make Africa “unique and diverse” turned out to be a poorly attended event.

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About Swallehe Msuya

Swallehe Msuya was a senior staff writer at Mshale with extensive media experience in his native Tanzania. He was a general assignments writer. Investigative stories that Mshale undertook were normally his responsibility. Swallehe passed away in Sept. 2009 at the age of 61. Mshale will forever miss his tenacity and wisdom.

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