African immigrant organization to host second annual leadership summit



Ethiopian-born politician Eskinder Negash and PLO Lumumba, director of the Kenyan School of Law, will be keynote speakers at the Virtual National Conference on African Leadership organized by St. Paul-based African Economic Development Solutions, in Minnesota, December 9-10, 2021. Photo: Courtesy
Ethiopian-born politician Eskinder Negash and PLO Lumumba, director of the Kenyan School of Law, will be keynote speakers at the Virtual National Conference on African Leadership organized by St. Paul-based African Economic Development Solutions, in Minnesota, December 9-10, 2021. Photo: Courtesy

An economic development agency serving the African immigrant community in the Twin Cities is bringing back a leadership conference after the inaugural conference held in 2020 became a success.

On December 9 and 10, the African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) will host the 2021 African National Leadership Conference, which will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The theme of this year’s conference will be “Rise as we rise: Unlocking the potential of African leaders”, and will feature solution-focused conversations regarding the economic issues plaguing the African immigrant community in Minnesota, according to conference organizers.

“We’re back by popular demand,” said AEDS President Gene Gelgelu.

AEDS works by connecting African immigrants to resources to help them access homeownership, start businesses and achieve financial security. The Leadership Conference brings together African immigrant leaders and leaders from across the state to tackle economic disparities.

African Americans lag behind their white compatriots in home ownership, which is the foundation for generational wealth creation and economic independence. According to the Brookings Institution, only 46.4% of black Americans, compared to 75.8% of whites, own a home, and homes in predominantly black neighborhoods were valued at 48,000 less than similar homes in white neighborhoods. Because of this racial disparity in home ratings, black families are worth much less than white families. A research report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that in 2019, the median net worth of a black family was only $ 23,000, while that of a white family was 184. $ 000.

Gene Gelgelu. Photo: Courtesy of the Bush Foundation

Lately, organizations like AEDS have tried to close this wealth gap. Minnesota has one of the biggest racial disparities in the country’s economic success, according to NPR News. The state has the second largest income inequality gap between blacks and whites in the nation – just behind the District of Columbia. Many African immigrants to Minnesota lack the resources and connections to improve their economic well-being and close the wealth gap. By bringing together immigrants and African leaders, AEDS hopes to gather ideas on how the community can accelerate the fight against economic inequalities.

This year’s National African Leadership Conference will feature Ethiopian-born politician Eskinder Negash, who served as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under President Barack Obama’s administration. Negash has been a public servant for over 12 years, helping to uphold the rights and improve the future of voluntary and displaced immigrants.

PLO Lumumba, professor who is director of the Kenyan School of Law and founder of the PLO Lumumba Foundation, will be the keynote speaker. Its Nairobi-based foundation is committed to tackling issues such as poverty, education and health.

Tickets for the event are available to the public on the African Leadership Conference website.


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