Politician, businessman, and iconic civil rights activist Andrew Young was the keynote speaker for “Africa@Baruch: Africa’s Role in the Changing Economy: Trading in Continental ‘Futures.’” Fourth in the College’s annual series of business-focused multicultural evenings celebrating emerging markets, the March 14 event drew a huge, engaged audience of students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Africa@Baruch also welcomed a panel of experts who spanned industries, trends, and backgrounds: moderator Dana Reed, interim CEO, The Africa Center; Jake Bright, author of The Next Africa and TechCrunch Africa contributor; Melissa Cook, founder and managing director, African Sunrise Partners, LLC; Nadayar Enegesi, cofounder of Andela, a tech training and development outsourcer;
and Abiola Oke, CEO and publisher of media company OkayAfrica.
Ambassador Young’s keynote talk offered both personal and historical perspectives. Foremost, he challenged the audience to abandon preconceptions: “Whatever you know about Africa—or think you know about Africa—forget it… Don’t look at Africa through a European lens, as many Americans do.” Advocating for a focus on private-sector opportunities, the ambassador cautioned,
“Don’t think you’ll go there and make money quick and leave, because the Africans will outsmart you.” He advised instead collaborating and committing for the long term. Each panelist echoed the ambassador’s enthusiasm. African Sunrise Partners founder and director Ms. Cook may have said it best: “It’s already antiquated to speak of ‘Africa rising.’ The world’s growth is coming from Africa. If you’re not there, you’ll miss it.”