[toggle title="Diaspora Entrepreneurs Success Stories: How They Did It."]
They immigrated into the US for school or work for “greener” pastures and soon got into business here. Hear from Diaspora start-up company owners who started businesses and have succeeded in them. Hear how they negotiated financing deals and how long it took them. What attracted the investors? What milestones did they have to meet to achieve success? And, hear firsthand on the mistakes you should you avoid.
Naya N. Mondo, Founder and President of Elerai Global Services for Africa LLC.
Naya N. Mondo is a prominent organizational leadership scholar and practitioner. She currently spends the majority of her time serving as founder and president of Elerai Global Services for Africa LLC, an organization dedicated to providing Internet and solar solutions to rural and pastoral communities in Kenya and IGAD states, with the goal of providing access to lighting, education and resources for all. She also serves as Director of Management Solutions in Kenya and USA, where she works to implement new business strategies, educational programs, leadership development and diversity training.
An experienced and dynamic facilitator, she also leads workshops, strategy sessions and team-building exercises. Mondo specializes in individual and group learning, business development, systems thinking, cultural competence, gender issues, diversity, inclusion and cultivating individual and team effectiveness. In 2009, Dr. Mondo was named as one of nine most influential women in the Mainline of Pennsylvania, USA. She is a founding member of Mumbi Investment, an organization that encourages financial education for women, as well as Diversity Divas, a collaborative inquiry research group. Dr. Mondo is currently the board chair for Dig Deep UK-USA, an organization dedicated to bringing clean water to pastoral areas of Kenya. She earned her Doctorate from Columbia University in New York, USA.
Nina Oduro, Founder & President, AfricanDevJobs.com
AfricanDevJobs.com is a platform for Africa-based development job opportunities and career advice. The site offers insights into African development careers with a focus on highlighting the contributions of Africans and the African diaspora in the field.
A youth employment and education advocate, Nina has worked as an education adviser, trainer, and facilitator for programs and initiatives aimed at positive youth development in the US and Africa. She is currently a Catalyst for the International Labor Organization’s Global Working Group on Decent Work for Youth and serves on the Learning Metrics Task Force Global Citizenship Education Working Group convened by UNESCO, the Brookings Institution, and the Global Education First Initiative’s Youth Advocacy Group.
As a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School, Nina advocates for improving education curricula to address job market needs and provide a pathway from school-to-work in Africa. She was honored as the 2013 DAWNer of the Year by the Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN) and has been featured in The Guardian, Afro Elle Magazine, and on Impact Africa Radio Show.
Nina received a Master’s degree in African-American Studies from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia.
[toggle title="Key Strategies for Entrepreneurial Success, in the U.S. and in Africa"]
Imagine being able to do business in a virtually untapped, 1 billion person market that is experiencing rapid economic and social growth in many aspects. This is the case in Africa, and the continent is the next frontier in entrepreneurship. With over fifty countries and countless different cultures, norms and traditions, Africa represents unique risks and challenges, but also offers incredible rewards to successful entrepreneurs.
However, while the push for more and more people wanting to do business in Africa seems attractive today, the key strategy for doing business successfully there is by first starting or growing your existing business in the USA. This panel will explore the stories of several entrepreneurs who have succeeded not only in business, but also greatly improved the lives of people and communities.
Mary Ann Juliano-Summers, President, MAS International Consulting
Mary Ann is an accomplished World Trade Professional, providing transnational consulting services to businesses that currently are, or are considering going global. With an extensive business background and cross cultural knowledge, she has been able to advance global commerce through the development and dissemination of best practices.
Mary Ann launched her career in corporate domestic sales and transferred her extraordinary ability to create effective relationships across the globe, generating business in the international consulting arena. She is proficient in sales, international and cross-cultural marketing. Her proven leadership, multicultural talents and expertise in the global market has made her one of the top performers in her field. She has been a successful advocate and coach to clients who were considering the leap into international business as well as those looking to energize an existing market share. Beyond her domestic sales experience, Mary Ann has worked throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Mary Ann has been recognized, more than once, for her professional work by her peers:
- Delaware Small Business (awarded three STEP Grants, two for China and one for Brazil), 2012
- Interviewed for the OMB Initiative in Washington by Chris Liddell-Westerfield, 2011
- Awarded Excellence in International Trade, 2011
- Awarded World Trade in Motion, 2011
- Delaware Small Business, (awarded STEP Grant to Brazil), 2011
- Awarded Faces of Trade, 2010
Mary Ann holds an Associate’s Degree from Salem Community College (N.J).
Vance Kershner, President and Founder, LabWare
As president and founder of LabWare, the industry leader in providing Laboratory Information Management Solutions (LIMS) around the world, Vance has been doing business in Africa since 1996, and has an office in Johannesburg. In addition to LIMS, Vance has an extensive game preserve in South Africa, along the Botswana border. The preserve is an operating game farm, which is recognized as one of the best breeders in the area. Vance employs over 60 people in Africa, and understands the nuances of doing business there.
Matthew Meyer, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ecosandals
With Benson Wikyo, Matthew co-founded Ecosandals in 1995, using a grant generously provided by the Samuel Huntington Fund. A Jefferson Award winner, along with Condoleezza Rice and two others, for the Greatest Public Service by and Individual 35 Years or Under, Matthew is a corporate attorney, at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, as a Skadden Fellow, providing free legal assistance to low-income residents in Delaware, and as an elementary school teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, initially through Teach For America. Matthew serves on numerous boards of organizations which address needs varying from cancer research to assisting immigrants. Matthew has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a law degree from the University of Michigan. Fluent in Swahili, Matthew resides in New York City, and he stays mentally healthy by visiting Korogocho every year, engaging the sandal-makers in computer lessons and by trying to ride his bicycle every single day.
William Rawheiser, Certified Design and Installation Professional, Sun-In-One
William is an expert in the areas of Photovoltaic, Micro-hydro, and Solar hot water and Wind energy systems. Since 2003, he has designed, engineered and installed a variety of grid tied and off grid systems in the United States and internationally. His extensive experiences in off grid installations include developing micro grid photovoltaic installations employing battery backup technology on the continent of Africa. These installations have served to provide electrification, refrigeration and communications in areas that otherwise would be inaccessible.
Mr. Rawheiser is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and holds degrees in AS in Finance and Investment, BS in Business Administration and BS in Business Management. Upon graduation from Johnson and Wales, he began his career in the banking industry and specialized in commercial and international lending.
In 2003, upon identifying the need for financial expertise pertaining to the investment quality of various renewable energy technologies along with a lack of experienced installation teams, Mr. Rawheiser founded Wise Power Systems. To date, he has designed, engineered, and installed systems employing various renewable energy technologies that have produced in excess of 350 megawatts of power. Wise Power Systems has installed stand-alone multi-megawatt solar systems as well as micro-hydro and wind systems. He is factory certified by Sharp USA in PV installation, as well as Solar Energy International in solar hot water systems, wind design and installation.
Mr. Rawheiser has served on various professional boards and committees and is a voting member of Delaware’s state DNRE Committee of Planning for the Future of Renewable Energy as well as The Middle Atlantic Solar Energy Society Delaware Committee. He has also generously donated his time to work with the MS Society of Delaware. He resides in Wilmington, Delaware, with his wife and their daughter.
Kenneth Anderson, Director, Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support, Delaware Economic Development Office
Since 2007, Ken has been with the Delaware Economic Development office (DEDO) where he created and launched an array of Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development programs including the Delaware Emerging Technology Center (ETC) virtual incubator, the ETC Boot Camp and Business Plan Competitions, the ETC Secrets of Success Seminar Series, the DEDO GrassRoots Plus Program, Delaware’s Kauffman FastTrac Entrepreneurial Training programs for new, expanding and Veteran owned businesses, as well as launching of what would be four (4) Governor’s Entrepreneurial Business Conferences where Ken served as Chair.
Ken also led DEDO’s first Delaware Small Business Summit focusing on minority and women owned businesses and chaired two Delaware Base Realignment and Consolidation (BRAC) conferences. For the last two years, Ken has served as Chair of the Governor’s Supplier Diversity Council (GSDC). Under Ken’s leadership, the GSDC developed Delaware’s first non-race, non-gender based Small Business Focus Program.
Ken also serves as a member of the Senior Advisory Council of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Small Business Alliance, member of Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board, the Kent County United Way Advisory Board, and Board of Trustees of the Centennial United Methodist Church. Ken is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, CA.
[toggle title="How Africa’s Startups are Using Lean Startup Principles"]
Richard Chowning, Founder and Director of Africa Mentor.
It is my mission to help you put YOUR best foot forward in Africa. I am confident that I can guide you efficiently and successfully place your product or service into the exciting African marketplace.
I have twenty-five years of in-resident experience in Africa and have been involved in African ventures for more than forty years. I know the challenges that you will, no doubt, encounter working in Africa. More importantly, I have a tool box of options to help you meet those challenges. I have mentored scores of individuals and teams who are presently working, or have worked, in African in such countries as Kenya, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Benin and Togo. I have taught Africa Studies, Swahili and Cross-Cultural Communication at several universities in the United States including Abilene Christian University, Johnson University and Mid-Atlantic Christian University. Depending on the specifics of your needs, I am able to put together a personalized team (where necessary) to deliver you actionable steps that you can implement with confidence.
I own and write almost all of the content for the following Africa-oriented websites:
- Africa Missions Resource Center
- Stories of Africa
- Religion In Africa
- Terrorism In Africa
Writings of mine have appeared in many print journals and websites. Here are some samples:
Africa’s Colonial Borders: In the Process of Costly Change- BermudaQuest; Relationships: The Heart of African Life – LifeLine for Africa; Selected Research Bibliography for Africa – Journal of Applied Missiology
Richard has a B.A. from Pepperdine University, a M.A. Abilene Christian University and is a Graduate of Newspaper Institute of America. He has language fluency in: English, Swahili, Kalenjin (Kenya), Ajagbe (Benin).
He has held many positions and distinctions including Distinguished Christian Service Award, Pepperdine University (2007); Founding Chairperson, Electronic Technology Group of the African Studies Association (1992-1996) – A Professional and Academic peer association, Chair, African Missions Fellowship Strategy Group at Abilene Christian University (1993-1997), Associate Board Member, Pioneer Bible Translators (1995 – 2007), Managing Editor, Journal of Applied Missiology (1989-1996), and Editor: Missionary Anthropology (1984-1989).
Tebabu Assefa, Blessed Coffee, Co-Founder & Chief Storyteller
Tebabu Assefa, a native of Ethiopia, came to the US in 1981. He studied photography, film production and communication at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In 1991, Mr. Assefa moved to the Washington, DC area where he worked in fine art photography, film/video production, and communication and marketing in the commercial and educational markets.
As a cultural promoter and communication consultant, Mr. Assefa supported enterprise in the local African-American, and Caribbean markets with emphasis on cultural and economic development including the Ethiopian Cultural Museum of Chicago. Tebabu is the founder and the principal producer of the Annual Ethiopian Festival in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The third Annual Festival, on September 2013, was a massive success, which showcased a five-hour-long culture show and community market that attracted over 25,000 attendants.
Mr. Tebabu Assefa is a recipient of champions of change award from the Obama administration in 2012. He is a community Leader and Social Entrepreneur and founder of Blessed Coffee(BC) a social business that supports 200,000 coffee farmers in Ethiopia improving their social capital through a new model of business called Virtues Exchanges (VE) that connect small farmers and producers with the consumer directly. BC is the second company to register as a Benefit Corporation (a public corporation chartered and produces public benefit as well as profit), a hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit models that aims for community benefits as well as profits in the State of Maryland.
BC connects the farmers with the specialty coffee consumer in the US market and shares profit to support the Farmer’s Union social program opening schools, health clinics, safe water wells and other social programs in the coffee-growing region. Tebabu aspires to present the Blessed Coffee as an alternative business model to the African community in the US, to encourage them to follow suit and establish businesses that advance US-Africa cultural and economic ties for development in Africa, and here in our American communities.
Dr. Hafeez Fatumbi, CEO, Separation Methods Technologies.
Dr. Fatumbi is the Director of Research and founder of Separation Methods Technologies, Incorporated (since 1993 until Present). Adjunct Professor of Chemistry: Lincoln University, Cheney State University and University of Delaware (since 1989 until Present). BS degree with honors in Chemistry and Mathematics-Lincoln University; MS degree in Analytical Chemistry-University of Pittsburgh; and Ph.D in Analytical Chemistry-University of Delaware. Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Indiana and the University of Delaware.
Dr. Fatunmbi’s expertise spans liquid chromatography (LC), gas chromatography (GC), capillary electrophoresis (CE), and spectroscopic characterization of molecules and chromatographic surfaces. Dr. Fatunmbi is a laboratorian with extensive experience in the Physical-analytical science, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Materials engineering and Surface chemistry. He holds two U.S. patents on innovations in molecular surface architecture and has been named several times as the author and/or co-author of books and articles in leading physical and analytical science journals. He is a member of American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement in Sciences, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Phi Lambda Upsilon honorary chemical society. He is a frequent speaker at regional and international conferences covering his area of interest.
Before starting his own company in 1993, Dr. Fatunmbi has held senior research appointments in the GC application division of Hewlett-Packard Company (now Agilent Technologies), Little Fall Site (Wilmington, Delaware) and the Paper division of Pittsburgh Plating Glass (Barberton, Ohio). Dr. Fatunmbi has earned several awards in physical sciences including American Chemical Society’s award in Analytical Chemistry, and The Smith Kline & French Laboratories’ 1984 James Birnie Memorial award for outstanding academic achievement in Chemistry. Dr. Fatunmbi’s research projects have been supported and funded by the prestigious United States of America’s National Science Foundation.
John Currie, Principal & Founder, ITERATE Ventures.
John is an accomplished entrepreneur, investor, and senior executive who creates value from disruptive technologies. Since 1994, John has led many technology commercialization efforts, transforming innovations from R&D into successful commercial products.
John formed ITERATE Ventures in 2004, to accelerate science-based companies and entrepreneurs with the difficult tasks of entering new markets and sourcing new innovations. ITERATE provides both innovation strategies and the specific tactical execution required to develop strategic partnerships around technology-based assets. ITERATE’s virtual accelerator model is to partner as a cofounder for an equity stake. ITERATE’s value proposition is focused on quality, speed and results. Success stories can be found on ITERATE’s web site: www.iterateventures.com.
From 1994 to 2004, John’s venture and technology commercialization background was accomplished at Sarnoff Corp., the former RCA Laboratories. John commercialized 40+ Sarnoff technologies by developing strategic partnerships and licensing disruptive technologies. John also played a key role in creating and spinning out four new technology ventures based during that time period, which are still changing the world.
John is also involved in educational pursuits being a practitioner of Lean Startup Principles. John was an adjunct faculty instructor of “The Lean Startup Xperience” offered at the University of DE Horn Entrepreneurship Program (2013). John was very active in DE’s First State Innovation Angel organization, from 2008-2013.
John has a BSEE from Drexel University and an MBA from Villanova.
[toggle title="Youth and Entrepreneurship: Achieving Your Dreams"]
In today’s global market, small businesses are the cornerstone of economic empowerment, and our youth are tomorrow’s innovators, risk-takers, and achievers, and eventually, tomorrow’s business leaders. During this moderated discussion, we will hear from youth who have taken the leap of faith into business and social entrepreneurship, and how they have unleashed entrepreneurship keys of Entrepreneurial Education, Technology and bridging gap between generations to advance their ventures.
William Kendima, System Engineer/CEO, TechNet-9 Electronics, Inc.
William loves technology. Growing up in Monrovia, Liberia he knew nothing about technology but he always wondered how things worked. When he entered into the United States in 2005 from Liberia, he says that it was very challenging for him in high school. In Africa, he had never touched or worked on a computer but he had to do everything for school on a computer here, but he was determined to advance himself whether through education, training, or studying. The first computer class he took in high school was word processing and admits not knowing how to use a computer or even type, but he was very eager to learn. William worked very hard to learn as much as he could about computers so that by the time he got to college, things would be easy for him. All of his hard-work in high school and college has paid off. He has worked for some of the Top IT organizations in the United State for 4 years now and he is still working. His goal is to go back to Africa and start up a School/Program that will help his African brothers and sisters become computer smart by teaching them the basic PC configuration, Cisco Networking skills, Troubleshooting techniques, Customer service and helping them with their communication skills as needed. He believes that he will do something great in the IT field, and his goals require action which he is excited for this opportunity with StartUpAfrica.
Today, William is a System Engineer/CEO for TechNet-9 Electronics, Inc. a company that he started in February of 2013. At TechNet-9 Electronics, he installs system security camera, repairs computers (Laptops, Desktops, Servers, Apple Mac, and Projectors), reimages computers, builds and customizes personal computers (Desktops only), setup small businesses computers and networks. William also serves as a Service Technician at IPR International.
Simeon Ogonda, United States’ State Department Fellow.
Simeon, 26, is a United States’ State Department Fellow on the Community Solutions Program and a Youth Enterprise Development Consultant from Kenya. He has been involved in various leadership positions over the past six years, beginning his learning as a student volunteer in community outreach project for rural enterprise development in Kenya and Uganda, including team President of the Enactus University Chapter in Maseno University, Managing Director of Spring Break Kenya and Operations Manager for StartUpAfrica. He also serves in the Board of Youth Challenge-4-Change, a Ugandan based community organization of African Leadership Academy alumnus with a mission of fostering youth enterprise development through entrepreneurship education. He has supervised and coordinated eight community outreach projects, played a critical managerial role in the establishment of Spring Break Kenya and established a mentorship program for Enactus Maseno University as well as mentored University Students from different Universities in Kenya. He is currently the Chief Operations Officer of Jualight Technologies (www.jualight.com) aimed at promoting low cost lighting to rural families in Kenya and the Operations Manager for StartUpAfrica.
Simeon, a Community Solutions Leader, holds a degree in Arts (Philosophy and Political Science) with IT from Maseno University and training in Entrepreneurship Development, Project Management, Leadership and Community Service. His active service in Junior Achievement’s Company Program and Enactus leadership and community outreach educational projects span a period of six years.
He is currently participating in the Community Solutions Program, a Program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the United States Department of State and Implemented by IREX (International Research & Exchanges Board)”.
Moses Mwaura, President; Enablis Africa Region.
Moses, 45, is the President of Enablis Africa Region, a Canadian NGO that develops entrepreneurs across Africa and most recently in Argentina (www.enablis.org). He has been in various leadership positions in Enablis in the last five years including Regional Director for Enablis East Africa, and Chief Operations Officer for Enablis Africa. Previously, he was the Managing Director of Multiple Skills Consultants for Africa (MSCA) in Kenya and Rwanda, where he provided leadership on a young CEOs development programme for the region and was on several consultancy assignments in Rwanda and Kenya.
Before that, he was working as a Management, Information and Corporate Governance Consultant in Kenya for seven years, where he was involved in both consultancy assignments and in running management-training courses. He is passionate about the potential and future of Africa, and in the development of young leadership to actualise that potential.
Moses is a B. Ed., Non-Degree MBA trained and is also a certified director and qualified corporate governance trainer by the Commonwealth Association for Corporate Governance.
Luvuyo Hlanganani Mandela Lead Advisor; Tyathumzi Advisory, Co-Founder & Chairman; Skew Circle The Connector; Ubuntu Concepts Dropper & Blogger; Drop The Why PYP Ambassador; Brand Youth Africa Global Ambassador; Project Knapsack Inc. Ambassador; One Young World Public Speaker and MC
Luvuyo is a Social Entrepreneur passionate about Youth Development and Youth
Empowerment. A beneficiary of numerous enabling environments, Luvuyo is dedicated to building collaborative relationships between institutions and their stakeholders in order to enhance beneficiary impact. He believes in the power of collective effort and unlocking synergies through a variety of mediums including intimate engagement platforms.
A Lead Advisor at Tyathumzi Advisory, Luvuyo specialises in designing solutions that transform corporate policy requirements into effective vehicles that drive a range of social imperatives. His client-serving yet community-centric innovations embrace client ethos while articulating the needs and identity of the benefiting community. His approach results in sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives inspired by client value-systems, informed by community-drive
and celebrated by all stakeholders.
A critical thinker, Luvuyo has found practical application for his undergraduate Diploma in Philosophy from Hamilton College. He has experience in a variety of spheres within the transformation and development sectors. Luvuyo gained valuable experience as Account, Sales and Marketing Manager turned Verification Analyst for National Empowerment Rating Agency (NERA) – a
leading Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) verification agency. He has intimate experience managing networks as a Search and Selection Associate for Endeavor South Africa – an innovative entrepreneurship development Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) responsible for finding and growing high impact entrepreneurial businesses.
Luvuyo is an ambassador to various organisations whose local and global impact holds true to his passion for youth and social (re) development; each making profound impact by molding young leaders with intimate connections to their local communities while changing the global community for the better. Luvuyo is proud to have his work acknowledged by Brand South Africa; One young World; Nelson
Mandela Foundation and Project Knapsack Inc. We all have our part to play and his is infecting young people with a social entrepreneurial ethos of being a continuous contributor and effecting sustainable social impact
Xan Hong, Agent, State Farm Insurance
Xan Hong received his Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. He later also received his Master’s in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Leexan also served as a student teacher and volunteer track & field coach at a West Philadelphia high school for a year. He has since served as an adjunct professor in Entrepreneurial Finance at Lincoln University.
Xan Hong began his career in marketing 13 years ago for Cardinal Health. In 2004, Xan started his first company, a marketing consulting company. Since then, he has started several companies including a drive-thru coffee company, a real estate development company, and an e-commerce site selling custom golf bags.
Currently, Xan owns a State Farm insurance agency providing insurance and financial services. Xan lives in Middletown, DE with his wife, 2-year old daughter, and Golden Retriever.
[toggle title="Accessing Capital through Non-Traditional Sources"]
Do you need funding for your business but do not know where to start? This panel will highlight several non-bank, funding sources that are available to finance your business. Panelists will include representatives from different organizations that provide non-traditional funding to entrepreneurs. The session will begin with an overview from each of these organizations on their loan products and services, eligibility requirements, and application process and culminate with an interactive question and answer period.
William “Bill” Abernethy, Executive Director, Wilmington Economic Development Corporation.
For the past 5 years, Bill Abernethy has served as the Executive Director of two non-profit organizations: Wilmington Economic Development Corporation and the Delaware Community Development Corporation. Prior to his current position, Bill had been a commercial banker for local and national banks for 38 years in senior lending positions. The Wilmington Economic Development Corporation (Commonly known as “WEDCO”) lends to small businesses in the City of Wilmington for any reasonable business purpose such as inventory, working capital, equipment, etc. The maximum loan size is $75,000 for a term not to exceed five years.
The Delaware Community Development Corporation (“DCDC”) is a certified development company for the US Small Business Administration’s “504 Loan Program”. This SBA program funds the purchase of fixed assets such as land, building and equipment for small businesses. Under the 504 Program, bank funds 50% of the project costs, the SBA funds 40% of the project costs, and the borrowing company needs only to put 10% as a down payment. The maximum loan amount of the SBA portion of the project is $5 million. DCDC’s lending territory covers the entire State of Delaware.
Kahiga A. Tiagha, Tiagha & Associates, Ltd.
On January 1, 2013, Kahiga A. Tiagha launched Tiagha & Associates, Ltd., the successor firm of Gonzales Tiagha formed in June 2009. Mr. Tiagha manages the firm. Mr. Tiagha focuses his practice on business, investment and real estate transactions matters, domestic and overseas.
In June 2010, 2013 and 2014, Mr. Tiagha was selected by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Magazine as a Rising Star for his work as a business/corporate lawyer. Prior to forming Gonzales Tiagha, Mr. Tiagha ran TKC Group, a business consulting firm that advised clients on risk management, developing and executing business growth strategies and securing financing for various corporate and real estate transactions. Mr. Tiagha was an associate in the Business and Finance departments of Ballard Spahr, LLP and Kleinbard Bell & Brecker, LLP. His practice included representation of businesses in connection with formation issues, the negotiation and preparation of commercial agreements, in the sale and purchase of businesses, structuring of joint ventures and other strategic alliances, and in the private placement of securities. He also has experience in gaming industry law.
Mr. Tiagha earned his law degree from The George Washington University Law School where, as a first year, he received the J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Public Service Internship Award, which assisted his clerkship with the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia. He graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury with a degree in International Relations and Politics with French (B.A. Hons.). He spent a year at L’Université Pierre Mendès-France in Grenoble, France where he received le Diplôme D’Administration et Politique Internationale (Diplôme API). Mr. Tiagha is fluent in French.
Mr. Tiagha is committed to community service. Most recently, Mr. Tiagha was appointed to the Board of Directors of the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ and DE, the leading advocate for minority owned business in the Delaware Valley and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Mr. Tiagha also currently serves on the board of trustees of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia, which provides affordable back-office resources to charitable projects without their own non-profit status, or existing organizations that seek to increase management capacity while trimming costs on insurance and back office expenses. Mr. Tiagha is a Trustee of the Center of Black Culture and International Understanding, an organization that is dedicated to the preservation of the archival material and advancing research on the culture of the Black Diaspora.as and Chair of the Legal Committee of the Mayor’s Commission of African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs. Most recently, he served on the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP), a nonprofit corporation that creates opportunities for individuals and family members to effectively respond to the challenges of mental health conditions. He served as Treasurer to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s first term mayoral campaign in 2006-2007.
Mr. Tiagha is a proud member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the American Bar Association. He is admitted to the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the United States Court of Appeals for The Third Circuit.
Christopher Chaplin, Financial Consultant, Urban League Entrepreneurship Center in Philadelphia, PA; First State Community Loan Fund in Wilmington, Delaware, and Partners for The Common Good in Washington, D.C.
He has over 25 years of banking/business lending experience in the Caribbean and the United States and has worked for the Bank of Jamaica/EX-IM Bank and Trafalgar Development Bank in Jamaica and PNC Bank and the Economic Opportunities Fund in the United States. He also served as a financial consultant to the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) Emerging Loan Program in Philadelphia, PA.
Mr. Chaplin is a Director/Co-Owner of Hard Beat Communications (www.hardbeatcommunications.com and www.caribpr.com ), a minority certified pr and marketing agency based in New York City. The company also publishes News Americas Now (www.newsamericasnow.com), a daily electronic newspaper covering the Caribbean diaspora and hosts Invest Caribbean Now (www.investcaribbeannow.com), an annual private equity and investment conference held in New York City and focused on the Caribbean.
He previously served as Co-Chairman of the Philadelphia Organizing Committee of Team Jamaica Bickle and Co-Chairman of the Philadelphia Caribbean Complete Count Committee of the US Census and is currently a member of the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. He was awarded the 2010 Award of Excellence by the African and Caribbean Business Council for his leadership in the African and Caribbean community during the 2010 US Census.
Mr. Chaplin earned a BSc. in Industrial Engineering from the University of The West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and a MBA from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C