Africans need cultural awareness to advance in economy


ADDIS ABABA – Africans have to retell their stories in their own way to reclaim their beautiful culture and speedup their economic development through it, says a social entrepreneur.

Communication and Studio Art specialist turned activist and social entrepreneur, Tebabu Assefa told The that the best way ahead for Africans to boost their economy and conquer poverty is to streamline cultural awareness.

He said that the anti-colonial struggle enabled Africans to gain only political independence. Still the people suffer from the consequences of cultural colonization as they value more European products than their own.

This makes them to pay more to European products enriching the former colonizers than their own. According to Tebabu, Africans both at home and in the Diaspora need to reawaken and cherish that Africa has a beautiful culture.

“If Africans value their culture, they can invest in their own local cultural items like food, clothes and related items. This will increase the jobs and market opportunity for Africans,” he explained.

He elaborated that the African Diaspora, which is about 5 million in USA alone, can play a meaningful role in boosting the continents share of benefit from the global market.

This can be realized when the Diaspora invests in items that produce and add value to the local and cultural products of the continent.

Therefore, while promoting the culture, it is important to put in place a suitable business model for the African Diaspora to invest in as well as an effective market value chain which supplies the products to the target market.

For this purpose Tebabu suggested that, he will do his best to promote the concept of Benefit Corporation. Benefit Corporation is a concept which activities in the U.S. State of Maryland, including Tebabu developed following the 2008 global economic crisis.

The activists were able to lobby the State Senator to write a relevant legislation in 2009. Tebabu said that the legislation is by now replicated and implemented in 38 U.S. States.

The initiative aims to correct the greed driven market culture which only aims at profit maximization by the final actor at the cost of impoverishment of those in the lower end of the chain.

This culture has been proven to cause economic crisis like that of the 2008. So benefit corporations aim to correct the  culture by putting in place a market value chain that ensures equal or fair benefit for all actors in the value chain.

According to Tebabu, he has proven the effectiveness of benefit corporations as a model using a prototype, Blessed Coffee, which corrects the coffee value chain. He has worked with Unions of Coffee Growers Cooperatives enabling them to roast and sell their coffee gaining better revenue.

At this moment, he noted, he has signed a Profit Sharing Investment Partnership (PSIP) agreement with Keffa Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, and Yirga cheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Unions which enables them to become 50 percent shareholders, or receive 50 percent of the profit earned from the coffee roasted by Blessed Coffee.

This business model and value chain is dubbed globally as the best innovative idea next to micro and small business, Tebabu said adding it can be replicated to many other local African products like gold, cocoa … etc, he indicated.

Therefore Africans must develop the culture of investing in their own local items as well as buying local brands. He further indicated it is a new model for Africa-America trade that transforms the relation from aid to trade.

Based on the experience, he is working to replicate the profit sharing initiative here in Africa by coming up with his own initiative, called Benefit Corporation for Africa (BCA).

To realize this, it is important to promote the beautiful and worthwhile culture, wealth of Africa which was largely smeared by the western media as place of poverty, war and backwardness. “We should retell our stories in our own way,” he reiterated.

If they do so, he noted, Africans in the U.S. have a capacity of investing up to a hundred billion USD annually which is much higher than the 40 billion USD which the U.S. has envisaged to invest in Africa through its newly established Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

The launching of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a conductive initiative to improve intra African trade which is at its lowest level compared to other continents. Therefore, African countries can implement BCA initiative along with AfCFTA, provided they enact all the remaining necessary policy measures.

The February 4/2022

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