U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Women’s Ownership

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We are pleased to announce that the African Union Expo 2015 has been formally chosen to host one of the Innovate HER business Challenge events. the Challenge constant we take place after the formal sessions for the Expo have concluded from approximately 5:30pm – 7:00pm on 11/17/2015

About the InnovateHER Business challenge 

Building on the success of the SBA’s inaugural 2015 InnovateHER Business Challenge, which we piloted in early 2015, Administrator Contreras-Sweet and the Office of Women’s Business Ownership are pleased to announce the launch of the SBA’s InnovateHER 2016: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit.  The InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition aimed at unearthing products and services that impact and empower the lives of women and families through local business competitions that culminate in a live pitch Final Round. During the InnovateHER Finals, up to 10 Finalists will compete for the Top Three cash prizes totaling $70,000 provided by Microsoft.  This year, the national InnovateHER Finals will be held on March 16 & 17, 2016 in the Washington, D.C. metro area as part of a larger Women’s Summit.


About SBA Office of Women’s Ownership 

Mission Statement

The Office of Women’s Business Ownership’s mission is to enable and empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education and support. Through the management and technical assistance provided by the WBCs, entrepreneurs, especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged, are offered comprehensive training and counseling on a vast array of topics in many languages to help them start and grow their own businesses.

We are pleased to announce the support of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) for the African Union Expo 2016

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We are pleased to announce the support of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) for the African Union Expo 2016. the SBA SDBCs they are as follows:

  • Columbia University Business School, Harlem 
  • CUNY, York College 
  • CUNY, City Tech
  • CUNY, Lehman College

Visit AfricanUnionExpo.org for more information for Merchants and general Attendees or email  info@africanunionexpo.com or phone 646-502-9778 Ext. 8002

U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) will be delivering the sessions related to export finance, and export  strategy, Business planning, Marketing and e-commerce.

About the SDBCs

The Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (CHSBDC) has been part of the community of Upper Manhattan since 2009. Funded partially by the United States Small Business Administration, the CHSBDC is one of 900 centers across the country that offer free business advice and training provided by qualified small business professionals to existing and future entrepreneurs.

Unlike other small business assistance programs, we offer intensive one-on-one counseling to our clients, allowing us to truly build a strong relationship with them. We have thus cultivated a network of experts, mentors and program alumni in all industries, some of which are willing to assist new clients in need. Our connection to Columbia Business School also gives our clients access to world-renowned faculty members, business students, and alumni business leaders.

Located in Columbia Business School, the center is committed to supporting the economic sustainability of New Yorkers—one business at a time.



Brooklyn Small Business Development Center

We think New York is great for small business — and so do our clients.

Since our start in 1986, the expert advisors of the Brooklyn SBDC have worked directly with 14,114 businesses, helping them to invest $83,219,174 in the area’s economy, and create or save 3,862 jobs.

If you or your business reside in New York, the SBDC can maneuver you around the obstacles to success.  Among other things, we help our clients:

  • understand the importance of a business plan
  • discover sources of funding
  • prepare for e-commerce
  • identify avenues for exporting goods & services
  • develop marketing plans
  • assess an invention’s viability
  • comply with licensing & regulations

And thanks to our partners in the public and private sectors, our services are free of charge.



Small Business Development Center, York College 

Since our start in 1988, The New York Small Business Development Center at York College has achieved over $125 Million in economic impact through loans they helped their clients obtain. The expert advisers have worked with 14,468 businesses, and have created or saved 3,979 jobs.




U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

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We are pleased to Announce that the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is supporting the African Union Expo and Martin Ezemma, MBDA Business Development Specialist,  the Agency’s expert in the African Diaspora will be leading the Q&A discussions and his extended team will be delivering several of the sessions related to Exports/Imports, Trade and Investment.

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a job-creating agency, leads Federal efforts to promote the growth and global competitiveness of America’s minority business community. This summary includes a small portion of our overall accomplishments during the first three years of the Obama Administration.


Increasing Exports of Minority-Owned Firms



Today, the importance of minority-owned businesses as a key component of U.S. international trade has nev-er been greater. Minority-owned firms have the most favorable export attributes of any sector of the U.S. economy and represent the future of export growth. They are:

  • twice as likely to export their products and services;
  • six times more likely to transact business in a language other than English;
  • three times more likely to generate 100% of their revenues from exporting;
  • more likely to have international operations than non-minority owned firms; and
  • substantial contributors to exports in manufacturing, retail trade, technology, and educational services.

Redesigned MBDA Business Center Program

In 2011, MBDA successfully launched a redesigned MBDA Business Center program. The new nationally focused program combined the traditional Minority Business Enterprise Center (MBEC) and Minority Business Opportunity Center (MBOC) programs into one. Significant changes include an increase in funding and the elimination of geographic borders, allowing business centers to provide services to minority-owned businesses anywhere in the Nation. Additional changes include longer funding terms, reduced paperwork burdens, the addition of merger, acquisition, joint venture and strategic partnering support, and enhanced export services.

NYC Council Member, Inez Dickens District 9

Inez Dickens

A lifelong resident of the 9th Council District that includes Central Harlem, Morningside Heights, parts of the Upper West Side and part of East Harlem, Inez Dickens is highly respected as a tireless fighter for basic civil and human rights, justice, equity, inclusion and diversity.   She is committed to improving the quality of life for everyone in her community and in the City of New York.  Moreover, for over 30 years beginning as a student activist at the side of her father and mentor, the late Harlem businessman and NYS Assemblyman, Lloyd E. Dickens, Council Member Inez E. Dickens has taken an active role in economic development, small business with a focus on minority and women owned business enterprise, and political landscape of New York’s celebrated village of Harlem.

Ms. Dickens was first elected to office in 1974 as a County Committeewoman, County Judicial Committeewoman and State Committeewoman and eventually rose in party ranks to become the highest-ranking African American woman in the New York State Democratic party serving as the First Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Committee.  Ms. Dickens stepped down as First Vice Chair when she took the oath of office on January 1, 2006, after winning a hotly contested City Council race.  She became the Council Member for the 9th Council District serving the communities of Central Harlem, Morningside Heights, part of the Upper West Side and East Side.  As a newly elected Council Member, Ms. Dickens hit the ground running after Speaker Christine Quinn appointed her to the leadership position of Majority Whip and Chair of the Standing Committee on Standards and Ethics.  During her tenure in office, Inez  E. Dickens has brought millions of dollars in services and resources to her community, the 9th Council District and to economically distressed communities throughout the City of New York.  She has also fought to make our great city a welcoming port-of-call to all and to build futures of promise for her constituents and all New Yorkers.

Ms. Dickens is a product of the New York City public school system, where she was educated at P.S. 133 and Julia Richmond High School. She did undergraduate studies in real estate and land economics at New York University and later at Howard University.

NY State Senator Adriano Espaillat ( Democratic candidate for New York’s 13th Congressional District)

Adriano Espaillat Headshot

New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat is the Democratic candidate for New York’s 13th Congressional District in the 2016 general election. He is currently the Ranking Member of the Senate Housing, Construction, and Community Development Committee, and Chair of the Senate Puerto Rican/Latino Caucus; he is also a member of the Environmental Conservation, Economic Development, Codes, Insurance, and Judiciary committees. Prior to becoming a state senator, he served in the New York State Assembly, and was the first Dominican-American elected to a state legislature when he first won his seat in 1996. In 2002, Espaillat was elected chair of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, and helped to reunite the group after years of division.


Throughout his tenure as a public servant, Espaillat has been a vocal advocate for protecting tenants, improving schools, and making serious, smart investments in economic development, job creation, and environmental protection. As state senator, he currently represents the neighborhoods of Marble Hill, Inwood, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, West Harlem, the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Clinton, and Chelsea.


Senator Espaillat has sponsored and helped to pass landmark laws encouraging the construction and preservation of affordable housing, developing free legal services for tenants, giving 35,000 low-income day care workers access to healthcare and the ability to join the UFT, providing workers’ compensation for 40,000 livery cab drivers, and improving hospital translation services. Espaillat has also worked to protect landmarks, taking legal action to protect the Palisades when the LG Tower threatened to permanently mar its natural beauty. After the July 1999 blackout in Upper Manhattan caused financial damage to restaurants, bodegas, and other small businesses, Espaillat helped to secure an agreement from Con Edison to invest an additional $100 million in Upper Manhattan’s electrical infrastructure at no cost to ratepayers—and when customers were billed for expenses related to an Indian Point Energy Center shutdown, Espaillat fought back and got their money refunded.


As congressman, Senator Espaillat will bring new energy to Washington and will be a steadfast champion for working- and middle-class New Yorkers. He will fight for a fair living wage, immediate and effective investments in affordable housing, meaningful criminal justice reform, infrastructure improvements, expanded youth programs, and better educational opportunities. Prior to entering public service, Adriano served as the Manhattan Court Services Coordinator for the NYC Criminal Justice Agency, a non-profit organization that provides indigent legal services and works to reduce unnecessary pretrial detention and post-sentence incarceration costs. He later worked as Director of the Washington Heights Victims Services Community Office, an organization offering counseling and other services to families of victims of homicides and other crimes, and as the Director of Project Right Start, a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to combat substance abuse by educating the parents of pre-school children.


NYS Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner – Assembly District 77

Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner – Assembly District 77

Assembly  represents the 77th Assembly District, which includes Claremont, Concourse, Highbridge, Mount Eden and Morris Heights sections of the Bronx.A prior member of Community Board 4 and the Neighborhood Advisory Board, Latoya is a Bronx resident. She is also a proud product of the public educational system. Latoya is a graduate of Richard R. Green High School for Teaching and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She participated in Stony Brook’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and benefited from its dedication to grooming African-American and Latino students.

The program focuses on providing students with the necessary tools to succeed in competitive college academic environments. Striving to take the greatest possible advantage of the opportunities EOP made available, Latoya studied abroad in Ghana and participated in various internships. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology, graduated with honors and became a member of Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society and Phi Beta Kappa.Changing her life forever, Latoya interned with the office of then-state Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene, a legendary fixture in Bronx governmental circles who currently serves as Bronx Deputy Borough President. During her internship, Latoya excelled and was recognized for excellence by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Following her internship in the State Capitol, she returned to her roots in the Bronx and was promoted to serve as a community liaison in Mrs. Greene’s district office.

In this capacity, Latoya handled day-to-day constituent concerns, researched legislation, and met with lobbyist groups and community organizations.Latoya went on to study law at the University at Buffalo Law School, where she was an associate editor for the Buffalo Journal of Gender, Law and Social Policy. During her time in law school, Latoya interned with the New York State Division of Human Rights in the Bronx and her responsibilities included investigating housing discrimination claims. She saw firsthand the hardships that many persons with disabilities – particularly those with mental and psychosocial disabilities – face in securing permanent housing. Her extensive experience in protecting the rights of tenants puts Latoya in a unique position when it comes to developing legislation and housing policies that are more equitable for the families living in the 77th Assembly District.A member of the New York State Bar, Latoya will use her legal degree to serve the needs of families throughout the Bronx.

She served as a court attorney for a New York City Civil Court judge. In what has been called the “people’s court”, Latoya used her problem-solving skills to help those appearing in court – many of whom are unrepresented – to reach settlements. She dealt with matters concerning commercial landlord and tenant, premises liability, personal injury, consumer debt, no-fault cases and small claims.Latoya will focus on affordable housing, seniors and education in the 77th Assembly District.

The Honorable Professor Michael John Downie, Chairman, Arts & Culture Committee, Manhattan Community Board 10

Michael Downie

The Honorable Professor Michael John Downie is an Education Consultant specializing in performance improvement and growth strategy through curriculum development and global educational programs.  He served as Assistant Professor of English at Stevens Institute of Technology, where he instituted CAL 103, “The Freshmen Experience”, and was Assistant Professor of English & African American Literature at SUNY Westchester Community College.

In 2003, Prof. Downie founded Renaissance in Motion, a non-profit cultural organization that provides access to Harlem’s diverse artistic and intellectual scene through salons, lectures and concerts held in Harlem with performers as varied as the inimitable Eartha Kitt, Grammy Award Winner Gordon Chambers, Violinist Asmera Woodward Page, and Novelist Brian Keith Jackson.  In 2006, he moderated a discussion for the freshly minted book, “The African Game”, by Nigerian photographer, director and filmmaker, Andrew Dosunmu, and journalist, Knox Robinson, which looks to soccer to explore modern African life, culture, and, most importantly, identity.

In 2007, Prof. Downie was appointed to Manhattan Community Board 10; he is Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee, and serves the Education, Libraries and Youth Committee and the Executive Committee.  While serving the Education Committee, he was one of the first proponents to back the New York French American Charter School – the country’s first.  60% of the students are from Francophone West Africa.  Through the New York City Department of Education, he serves on the Advisory Board for the West End Secondary School for Urban Studies.

Professor Downie was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and has done research in Ghana and at the Royal Archives in London on slavery, in general, and the “razzia”, in particular.  He recently completed a novel about modern day slavery, “Slaves, Moors & me”, and wrote a play entitled “The Merry Wives of Harlem”, a drawing room comedy built on pun and stereotype, and a misunderstanding about identity.

Professor Downie holds a B.S. in Psychology from Tufts University, a M.A. in English & American Literature from New York University, and a Graduate Certificate in African Studies from Yale University.

Professor Downie is the proud father of Sophia.

Pastor Michael A. Walrond, JR. Senior Pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church

Michael A. Walrond, JR

  • Rev. Walrond, who is also affectionately known by the congregation as Pastor Mike, serves as the leader, pastor and teacher to the “ever evolving community of visionaries & dreamers” at First Corinthian Baptist Church.
  • Within two years of his leadership at FCBC, the church experienced a tremendous amount of growth, inevitably necessitating the addition of a second service. Over the past eight years, membership at FCBC has grown from three hundred and fifty disciples to over seven thousand, and has led to the creation of several new ministries and initiatives.
  • Pastor Mike’s vision for discipleship, wholeness, and community wellness has launched vision teams including- HEALED HIV/AIDS Ministry, Social Justice, DTV Drama, Clothing, Celebrate Life Recovery Ministries, and Business and Culinary Arts Vision Teams.
  • The dynamic preaching, teaching and discipleship of Pastor Mike led to the need for additional services: a third worship service on Sundays, and Freestyle Fridays, a service that celebrates the art of improvisation and creativity.
  • Pastor Mike’s foresight and passion for the Harlem community shaped the vision for the FCBC Dream Center, a transformative space designed to awaken the dreams of the community through leadership development, arts enrichment, and economic empowerment.
  • Rev. Walrond currently serves as a board member of the National Action Network, and in 2012, was appointed as the first National Director of the Minister’s Division of the National Action Network by Rev. Al Sharpton.
  • Rev. Walrond also has a strong commitment to public, private, and higher education and currently serves as a Trustee and adjunct faculty member of Chicago Theological Seminary, in Chicago, Illinois.
  • In June 2015, just last month, Rev. Walrond was chosen to spearhead the New York City Clergy Advisory Council by mayor, Bill de Blasio, where he is responsible for maintaining a direct line of communication between religious leaders and City Hall.
  • A native of Freeport, New York, Rev. Walrond did his undergraduate studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religion.
  • Rev. Walrond has a Master of Divinity degree with a focus in Theology from Duke University School of Divinity where he was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar.
  • Rev. Walrond served Duke University as the University Minister and Director of the African American Campus Ministry for eight years and as the Senior Pastor of Zion Temple United Church of Christ in Durham, North Carolina for seven years.
  • He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and Morehouse College Alumni Association. In addition to his religious affiliations and community involvement, Rev. Walrond also serves as weekly columnist for the New York Amsterdam News.
  • Rev. Walrond is married to the Rev. Dr. LaKeesha N. Walrond, who serves as the Executive Pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church. They are the proud parents of two beautiful children, Michael III and Jasmyn Dominique.Michael A. Walrond, JR

Mamadi Touré, Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea

  • Mr. Touré previously has held several high-ranking positions within the United Nations. Such as:
  • the Permanent Representative of Guinea to the United Nations;
  • Senior Political Affairs Officer in charge of the Horn of Africa Team in the Department of Political Affairs;
  • Chief of Staff at the United Nations Operations in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI);
  • Senior Political Adviser to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa;
  • Acting Chief of Staff at the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa.
  • From 2004 to 2007, Mr. Touré has served many roles including be not limited to:
  • Political Adviser to the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea;
  • Head of the Regional Office at the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH);

Special Assistant and Head of the Political Unit at the United Nations Political Office for Somalia;

  •  Senior Political Affairs Officer in charge of the West Africa Team in the Department of Political Affairs.


Throughout the 1990s, Mr. Touré served as Political Affairs Officer in such areas as disarmament affairs and Africa.

Additionally, he was Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

Mr. Touré obtained Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees from the City University of New York.

Born on 11 December 1952 in Kankan, Guinea, Mr. Touré is married, with three children.

Consul General of the Republic of Senegal Elhadji Amadou Ndao

Elhadji Amadou Ndao

His Excellency Mr. Elhadji Amadou Ndao was born and raised in Senegal, West Africa, where he attended primary and secondary school. After graduating high school, he went to the University of Dakar where he, along with other thirty two elite students in the literary track, had the privilege to be of the class that would be the first promotion of the Sociology Department newly opened at the renowned “Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines” at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar.

A year into it, he had the opportunity to travel to the United States of America in the pursuit of a higher learning. A higher leaning indeed, for beyond obtaining his B.A. in International Relations at the City College of the City University of New York, he had the pleasure to experience the American culture in its fullest sense: The New York City experience.

After graduating from City College Mr. Ndao served for various NGO’s, Action Against Hunger –USA and The Humanist Center for Cultures, in their communications  department before joining the United Nations Secretariat in 2011. At the UN, Mr. Ndao worked in the Department of Management  for two years and then joined the Executive Office of the Secretary General, Every Woman Every Child team in the Strategic Planning Unit.

His Excellency Mr. Elhadji Amadou was appointed Consul General of the Republic of Senegal by Executive Order of His Excellency President Macky Sall on January 7th 2015 and took office on January 30th 2015.