Three Black Executives Discuss Using African Business Growth To Close The Corporate Board Gap

Three Black Executives Discuss Using African Business Growth To Close The Corporate Board Gap

Three Black corporate executives with B-Direct, a corporate board preparedness and executive search firm, discussed closing the corporate board gap in a virtual forum.

Shoppe Black reports B-Direct executive team members Larry Yon, Andrá Ward, and Henri Ward joined the virtual forum to discuss why Black professionals should pay more attention to the business environment in Africa and the mutual economic value of culturally connecting Africa to its U.S. diaspora.

The continent of Africa is home to over 430 businesses with $1 billion in annual sales. When it comes to those businesses, 50% have a local origin, 40% are publicly listed, and 60% are privately owned. Africa is also home to the world’s richest Black man, Aliko Dangote.

Yon, who has more than 20 years of business experience working with and advising governments, corporations, and influencers on various issues in the U.S. and the continent of Africa, talked about the difference between B-Direct and other board search firms.

“Our program pulls on the interest of a number of different stakeholders to be successful,” Yon said during the panel.

“One obviously is the benefit to the board candidate, it’s gonna accelerate their exposure and their access to the information that makes them valuable, not just to African boards but also to U.S. boards, and that’s why we don’t see ourselves as competitors with a lot of the great organizations that have been doing work to diversify corporate boards here in the U.S.”

The panel also discussed what U.S. corporate executives should consider when taking on a board position in Africa and how building relationships in Africa will play a part.

“I think one of the challenges that is really resonating with folks is this notion that we call cultural economics,” Andra Ward said.

“When you think about cultural economics in relationship to board placement, those are aspirational positions. Most of us want to aspire to be paid in addition for our skill set, for our intellect, for our knowledge, for our ability to grow businesses and grow them at scale and to assist other people to do the same. That could also be the same truth for Black entrepreneurs in the U.S. who are looking to expand their markets as well.”

“There are 54 countries on the continent of Africa, and in many of our US corporate and entrepreneur relationships, we’ve only been looking at the 50 states and North America, so relationship building is absolutely essential and key.”

B-Direct is currently in the process of expanding its network to South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya, according to Henri Ward and already has business and government relationships in those countries.

“Outside of that we are also looking at other countries on the continent, whether that be Tanzania, Ethiopia, and other countries on the Western side of the continent.”

Black U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs have been increasingly looking to Africa, which is one of the most untapped markets with the potential to generate billions in revenue for even small businesses. In addition to Black customers in the U.S., Africa can give Black enterprises, large and small, a chance to help build a significant international presence.

The full discussion can be seen on YouTube.