About the Conference

U.S. companies are finding substantial trade and business opportunities in Africa. U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa top $21 billion per year, and the region is growing at 5-6% annually. How can U.S. firms best understand these markets, find opportunities, and manage the challenges of doing business there?

The University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and the George Washington University Center for International Business Education and Research (GW-CIBER) are hosting a one-day conference focusing on 8 dynamic economies: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania. The U.S. Commercial Service is hosting the Trade Winds–Africa mission to these countries in September 2015.

Key conference topics include:

  • Current and emerging business opportunities in countries of focus
  • Challenges that U.S. companies face in these markets – myths and realities on the ground
  • The competitive environment, including the role of China, India and indigenous African companies
  • Understanding and leveraging diaspora communities
  • Uncovering resources to help with finding and vetting business partners, financing, and logistics

Keynote Speakers and Panel Moderators

James Newlands, Partner, Ernst & Young, Americas-Africa Business Center. Mr. Newlands leads EY’s Americas-Africa Business Center based in New York. He works with key EY accounts to assist them in developing, stress-testing and executing their Africa growth strategies. He has more than 32 years’ experience in providing assurance and advisory services to some of the firm’s leading clients in the oil and gas, retail and consumer products and life insurance sectors.

Antwaun Griffin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of U.S. Operations, U.S. Department of Commerce. Mr. Griffin was appointed by President Obama to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Operations at the International Trade Administration (ITA) in May 2012. In this role, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the U.S. Commercial Service’s network of 108 U.S. Export Assistance Centers whose trade specialists work closely with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide to help American businesses develop or fine-tune their global growth strategies. 

Irving Williamson, Commissioner, U.S. International Trade Commission. Mr. Williamson is the Chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission. He has more than 40 years of experience in the international and trade policy fields. As a consultant, he worked with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other donor-funded projects, advising countries on World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, compliance, and participation; he has also conducted WTO and other trade-related training programs all over the world.


Yohannes Assefa, Director, Stalwart Management Consultancy PL. Mr. Assefa is a business lawyer with business management experience in the United States and Africa. He is currently the Managing Director of Stalwart Management Consulting PL, a Dubai-based management consulting and investment advisory firm focusing on the development of financial markets in emerging markets, including Africa. Previously, Mr. Assefa served with the USAID-funded Ethiopia WTO Accession Project and was a member of the team of professionals who established the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX).

Liesl Riddle, Associate Professor of International Business and International Affairs, George Washington University. Dr. Riddle is an Associate Professor of International Business and International Affairs at The George Washington University School of Business. She has written extensively about diasporas and development, international entrepreneurship, and trade and investment promotion. Dr. Riddle has conducted research among 17 different diaspora communities in the USA and Europe originating from countries of origin in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East.