About 250 entrepreneurs, investors, influencers, and government leaders took part in the investment-focused ‘Innovators Gathering’, honouring the influx of two-way investment and trade opportunities set to be announced and catalysed during the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit.
The Innovators Gathering, with its theme as ‘Investing in U.S.-Africa Cultural and Economic Ties’ was hosted on December 12 by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken under the banner of the whole-of-government Prosper Africa initiative. The event was hosted in partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, with support from Google. Speakers included Idris Elba, Yvonne Orji, Tony Elumelu, Mayors Muriel Bowser and Eric Adams, Secretary Blinken, and more – with virtual remarks from former President Barack Obama. All came together to celebrate and catalyse partnerships between U.S. investors and African and Diaspora innovators, influencers, and entrepreneurs.
Former President Barack Obama highlighted Africa’s role as an investment destination driven by a thriving start-up culture. Obama noted that U.S. investors have closed more than 500 deals in Africa since 2017 totalling about $30 billion dollars, and he closed with an invitation and a challenge: “To anyone looking for investment opportunities, I encourage you to look to Africa. Because something special is happening there.”
“This gathering is part of our desire as Prosper Africa to strengthen cultural and economic ties between the U.S. and African nations. We are committed to driving investment in innovation and highlighting the opportunity and dynamism across the U.S.-Africa investment ecosystem,” said Chief Operating Officer at Prosper Africa, Leslie Marbury.
Sharing his organisation’s vision, Tony Elumelu said: “At the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are pleased to have co-hosted this event on the eve of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit. The Foundation is delighted to launch a Coalition for African Entrepreneurs for foreign governments and development agencies in need of reaching last mile and vulnerable targets, and we look forward to a continuation of this partnership with the U.S. Administration.”
“At Google, we believe that digital transformation is critical to economic growth and opportunity across Africa. We’re excited to work with U.S. and African leaders from the public and private sectors to support African-led innovation and the people and businesses powering it,” added Senior Vice President of Technology and Society at Google, James Manyika.
The evening included a panel discussion moderated by Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Dorothy McAuliffe with panelists including Dr. A.V. Elumelu and Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurs on “The Power of Investing in Africa,”; a pitch competition hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, featuring dynamic African entrepreneurs; and a reception hosted by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and catered by celebrity chef and entrepreneur Pierre Thiam.
The event kicked off the week of President Joe Biden’s U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, held from December 13 – 15, by highlighting the United States’ longstanding commitment to Africa and the investment ecosystem they share. A key pillar of the Summit is the U.S.-Africa Business Forum on December 14, which is co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Corporate Council on Africa, in partnership with Prosper Africa. The Forum will include a Deal Room, hosted by Prosper Africa, where announcements of bold, new investment commitments between U.S. and African business and government leaders will be made public.