Banyan Global operates seamlessly within four practice areas:
The 2011 Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum put a new spin on gender considerations in regional trade. With the support of Banyan Global, this year's forum, held in Lusaka, Zambia in June 2011, was marked by collaboration among regional stakeholders committed to both economic growth and gender equity. This year's forum had unprecedented participation from women entrepreneurs and female government representatives. Banyan Global supported the forum through the United States Agency for International Development-funded Southern Africa Trade Hub Project (SATH), which is managed by AECOM.
The increased emphasis on gender equity at the AGOA Forum can be ascribed to the role of the African Women Entrepreneurs Programme (AWEP) in AGOA preparations. AWEP created an advocacy campaign targeting AGOA governments, encouraging them to improve the gender equity of their delegations. The result was a large presence of women from across the African continentincluding from 24 out of 37 AGOA countries.
In parallel to the AGOA forum was the first-ever AWEP conference, attended by 200 participants representing mostly African small- and medium-sized enterprises. The AWEP forum held discussions and presentations on topics including export business opportunities, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anticorruption compliance for emerging entrepreneurs, and best practices for using social media. Guest speakers presented on requirements for importing to the United States, access to finance, and business advocacy. Notable speakers included the Bank of Zambia's deputy governor, the chief executive officers from leading Zambian financial institutions, the United Nations Development Programme, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and representatives from the U.S. government.
As part of the conference, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer, addressed AWEP. Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Verveer also toured an exhibition of products produced by Zambian women entrepreneurs, with 2010 AWEP alumni on hand to share their experiences.
The success of the conference is partly attributable to the technical support Banyan Global provided through the Southern Africa Trade Hub to AWEP's Zambia Chapter, which organized the conference. Banyan Global worked behind the scenes, providing technical and logistical support, including targeted technical support to AWEP's Zambia Chapter. With the help of SATH sponsorship, nine women-owned businesses from the Southern Africa region and Zambia were able to participate in the international trade exhibition, representing the textiles, apparel, and agriculture sectors. These women entrepreneurs showcased their products and networked with buyers from the region, the larger African continent, and the United States.
In addition to Secretary Clinton's address, highlights of the conference included
Banyan Global will continue to support African women entrepreneurs and provide technical assistance through SATH to identify market opportunities and ensure their products meet end buyers' requirements. Banyan Global also will support AWEP's initiative to institutionalize the project as a local entity.