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Destination Africa: African Graduate Students Host Local African Business Leaders

by Prisca Enedah on 04/26/2024


The African Graduate Professional Network, a growing community of African graduate students under the Graduate Students Association (GSA), invited African leaders in St. Louis to Saint Louis University on Saturday, April 20, to speak to the students about business and commerce opportunities in Africa and other opportunities to network in the St Louis community.

The debut event, "Destination Africa, was designed to showcase Africa's rich cultural heritage, diversity, and business opportunities. Students and other attendees came dressed in various traditional and cultural attire.

President of the African Chamber of Commerce, Lynda Ogah, spoke to students about the benefits of being a member of the chamber. Photo by Prisca Enedah. Launch SlideshowPresident of the African Chamber of Commerce, Lynda Ogah, spoke to students about the benefits of being a member of the chamber. Photo by Prisca Enedah.

One of the initiative's leaders, Ashaolu Olawale, said the event was conceived from the desire for graduate students from various African countries to form a supportive community, leveraging opportunities available at Saint Louis University and St. Louis to grow academically and professionally.

"The African Graduate Professional Network is a community of African professionals at SLU that aims to support the integration of professional African students into SLU plus empower and create opportunities for them to excel academically and professionally," Ashaolu Olawale said.

The guest speakers spoke to the students on various topics ranging from how international students can take advantage of the numerous opportunities around them, such as the African Chamber of Commerce in St Louis and the African Diaspora Council, to gain support and grow their professional and business networks.

The Co-Chair of the African Chamber of Commerce and CEO of MyEvents, Arinola Sholanke, spoke about the Chamber and the many opportunities for student professionals to connect and network within the St Louis Community.

"We want to provide a holistic support system for African international students,” Sholanke said. “The African Chamber of Commerce intends to help ease the burden of moving to a new country and point you to opportunities from organizations, government bodies, and other resources in St Louis.”

Mamoun Benmamoun, Ph.D., associate professor in the Richard Chaifetz School of Business, spoke to the students about leveraging emerging technology and resources in African business environments such as, Jumia, M-Kopa to better Africa.

Several students also shared some key facts about their home countries and cultures. Mohamed Kargbo, a graduate student from Sierra Leone, shared several highlights about his country. 

"Sierra Leone is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with about seven natural resources and exports, including cocoa and gold,” Kargbo said. “Also known for its stunning landscapes, including beautiful beaches and lush rain forests, Sierra Leone is a sight to behold." 

The event was an opportunity for African graduate students to showcase Africa's cultural diversity, promote various parts of Africa, such as international trade opportunities, and connect with African business leaders and students while enjoying delicious African cuisines.

"It was a great avenue to network with successful and knowledgeable African professionals and learn about the diverse untapped opportunities for international students in the African community," said Jumoke Ajakaiye, a student from the School of Professional Studies.