The African Development Center held its second annual celebration on June 3 to highlight its achievements for the past year. ADC is a community development corporation that assists African immigrants in business planning and ventures as well as buying homes.
The event held at the Zuhrah Shrine conference center in Minneapolis featured Shawn Huckleby as the keynote speaker. He was appointed last spring as the first director of the Emerging Markets Home ownership Initiative (EMHI). EMHI is an initiative launched in 2004 by Minnesota Governor Pawlenty and is a collaborative public-private partnership that seeks to increase homeownership among the minority communities. It has participants from over 50 organizations. At the ADC event, Mr. Huckleby said EMHI has a goal of creating new homeowners among minorities to 40,000 by 2012.
ADC also used the occasion to introduce its new board president, Mahmoud Bah, a native of Sierra Leone. Mr. Bah in his maiden speech to ADC supporters said while his organization may not have all the answers “we are trying our best”. Past board chair, Tim Mungavan, introduced Mr., Bah to the guests and expressed his relief at having a native African chair the board. Mr. Mungavan now serves as the board’s vice-president.
Besides the food and superb entertainment that was provided by Nimely Pan African Dance troupe, the evening’s highlight were the testimonials from key ADC staff who explained their roles to the guests. First to go was Kris Maritz, the center’s Business Consultant. “There are days when I feel part of the African community than my own community”, Kris said of the welcome she feels from those she teaches on how to leverage community resources. Hussein Farah, who left a job on Wall Street to come to Minneapolis in search of opportunity on hearing “of the many Africans that live here”, was next. In his own unique style, he told of how he came with just $20 from New York to Minneapolis and how he met Mr. Samatar (ADC founder) and bought into the latter’s dream. Mr. Farah now serves as ADC’s Loan and investment Manager. He told the audience that ADC now has $500,000 invested in its clients up from $25,000 as of last year’s celebration. The center’s Homeownership and Financial Literacy Director, Stephen Wreh-Wilson spoke of the success stories that ADC has created outlining the challenges that new African immigrants face when trying to get into homes. He said that there have been many non African beneficiaries of ADC’s programs “because one way we make ourselves known is by welcoming everyone and not discriminating”, he said.
ADC Executive Director, Hussein Samatar, also revealed plans to expand his organization’s training facilities in order to better serve clients. He spoke of one of ADC’s recent success, the Midtown Global Market which grand opened earlier in the day. ADC was lead development partner in the project. It offered training and technical assistance to the businesses now located at Global Market. The Global Market has been dubbed as the “most public face of the $190 million restoration of the former Sears tower” by the partnership that created it.
ADC Achievement Awards were presented to mother and daughter team of Linda Caldwell and Davidlyn Moore, owners of Dollars & Sense ion Brooklyn Center and Faduma Hashi of Starlight Café at the Global Market. Bruck Nerayo of Bruck’s Café in the Cedar-Riverside area. They have all been ADC clients running successful businesses.
Check out the Gallery for pictures from the celebration