Africa.com CEO Teresa Clarke and Hershey’s CEO J.P. Bilbrey are two of 15 private sector executives appointed to President Obama’s new President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA), announced Friday by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The Council’s members represent the top executives from a variety of industries including energy, science, medicine, beauty, and banking. Pritzker revealed that each industry leader was hand-picked by President Obama to “provide expert counsel on strengthening our partnerships with African countries.”
As one of the Council’s new leaders, Ms. Clarke brings twenty years of experience working with businesses investing in Africa. She said she is grateful to be serving the President on something for which she has so much passion. Her credentials include being the first African-American woman in the position of managing director of Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division. Ms. Clarke is also the founder and CEO of a multi-media website Africa.com which was the only Africa-focused media group selected to be apart of President Obama’s traveling press corps during his monumental trip to Africa in 2013.
Ms. Clarke will join a prestigious list of appointees including Karen Daniel, leader of the Africa Growth Initiative, J. P. Bilbrey, President and CEO of The Hershey Company, Wale Adeosun, Kuramo Capital Management founder and Chief Investment Officer, and Shelley Broader, President and CEO of Wal-Mart EMEA. Each member brings the knowledge and expertise of their industry to the Council in an advisory position to President Obama. Their understanding of commerce and financing between Africa and the U.S. make them valuable resources to the Department of Commerce and the Council.
Upon hearing of his appointment, Mr. Bilbrey said he felt honored to be serving on the President’s Council and was excited about the opportunities available to U.S. business and government. The Hershey Company has “a long history in West Africa through sourcing our most important commodity, cocoa.” With six of the ten fastest growing economies in Africa, the Council’s new members see a great advantage in the President’s U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan African released in 2012 and the latest DBIA campaign. In addition to strengthening commercial ties, the Council is also tasked with analyzing the effect of U.S policies on U.S.-African trade and financing.
The PAC-DBIA was created by executive order (EO) earlier this year at the nations first ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum hosted in conjunction with Bloomberg philanthropists. It is one of President Obama’s strongest initiatives in the push to strengthen U.S. partnerships with African countries. The Council will provide information, analysis, and recommendations for trade and investments in Africa while focusing on job creation both at home and abroad.
Between 2009 and 2013, U.S. exports to Africa increased by 58 percent, more than to anywhere else in the world. In 2013 alone, the U.S. exported $50.2 billion in goods and services to Africa, demonstrating the increasing importance of the alliance. The increased exports represented 9 percent of the U.S. annual growth and reflect improving economies in Africa. With immense optimism, Ms. Clarke hopes that the PAC-DBIA is able to further provide unique economic opportunities for U.S. and African small businesses as well as leveraging the “untapped potential” of Africa, especially in the area of technology.
By Didi Anofienem