Written by Natelege Whaley | From BET
When Amanda Spann received the opportunity to visit the thriving technology hubs in Africa’s most populous cities, she brought along other curious minds to make the excursion more meaningful.
A group of 15 professionals and one student, mostly women, was formed. From Feb. 1 to Feb. 15, the travelers visited Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Sponsored by Arik Air, the trip promoted global entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment and tightened bonds between African-American and African innovators.
“I said why don’t we get together as many tech founders, social innovators and young movers and shakers in the social impact space as possible?” Spann, 27, told BET.com. She is the former CMO of Blerdology, a social enterprise supporting the Black tech community. Currently, she is a specialist at IBM.
During their visit, the group saw up close how entrepreneurship is growing as a pathway of economic empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the region, youth unemployment is rising. But 76 percent of adults, ages 18 to 64, view entrepreneurship as a good career choice, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported in 2012.
The first leg of the tour was Accra, Ghana, where the participants sat with the Queen Mothers of Ghana. They also made a stop at HUB Accra, a collaborative workspace that offers business development workshops. Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria, Impact Hub of Johannesburg, South Africa, Capetown Garage, and iHub in Nairobi, Kenya, were among several destinations for the group.
Erika Norwood, 32, a participant, said a business pitch festival at HUB Accra was one of the most inspiring moments. She is the executive director of IDEX Accelerator, a global fellowship program.
“I’ve heard a lot of different pitches in person and on paper, but I think that there was a passion that came across in this pitch fest with these different entrepreneurs,” Norwood told BET.com. She kept in touch with one pitch participant, Dziedzorm “JayJay” Segbefia of Braveheart Expeditions, an eco-tourism business.
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