The fifth Africa CEO Forum

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Over 1000 participants from more than 40 African countries, CEOs of the largest African and international companies and political decision makers, gathered in Geneva on March 20-21 for the fifth edition of Africa CEO Forum.

As one of the most important events on the African business calendar, this forum offers a unique platform for decision and debates around the economic and industrial challenges facing the African continent.

The advantages are numerous: businesses and people can find new financial partners, expand their networks, become a driving force in the development of Africa’s private sector, share learning experiences, gain strategic insights on the latest trends in Africa, promote business in Africa and internationally, and much more.


Why Geneva?

The Africa CEO forum was actually created in Geneva in 2012. Geneva was chosen to highlight the dynamism of African capitalism in an international city.

Since the global economic slowdown brought new challenges to Africa, it has been even more important to highlight the continent as a place for investment and for finding investors. As the host city of the forum as well as a major financial center in Europe, Geneva has a vested interest in helping African growth.

The fifth edition of this event focused on revitalizing the economy on the continent, and encouraging financial flows and international investment. In partnership with the Swiss government and the authorities of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the event also had a large component aimed at motivating Swiss firms to invest and expand activities in Africa.


Invest in Senegal

Capitalizing on the visit the President of Senegal Mr. Macky Sall at the Africa CEO Forum, Capital Emergence SA, a swiss fiduciary company, organized a promotional pre-event called “Invest in Senegal” at the CCIG (Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services). This event was managed in collaboration with the Senegal Mission in Geneva and the Senegalese state company APIX SA, which is responsible for investment, promotion and major projects in Senegal.

Capital Emergence, who works in corporate management and structuring transnational businesses, also has expertise in various domains like  medical robotics and green technologies. Capital Emergence plays a major role in promoting Senegal to SME/SMIs within the CCIG. The company presents opportunities for investment in the country and  facilitates Swiss-Senegalese cooperation. To help with the structuring of project governance, they work to match project holders with partners and/or investors.

Around 30 participants from different industries and areas attended the event. Following a welcome speech by Vincent Subilia, CCIG Deputy Director on International Affairs and Arbitration, Mr. Amin Kébé, Development Economist at the World Health Organization, delivered a brilliant presentation on Senegal’s economy. Mr. Malick Diallo, First Adviser at the Permanent Mission of Senegal to the UN, presented the global business environment of Senegal. Finally, Anne-Laure Héritier, Founder and Managing Director of Capital Emergence SA and Treasurer of the Association Women for the Planet (AFP), represented APIX and discussed the various investment opportunities in Senegal.


Cooperation and development are key

A presentation of “Karitédiéma”, a brand of 100% natural cosmetics made with shea butter and created by Ndiémé Ndiaye, who is Senegalese-Genevoise, ended the event. Mrs. Ndiaye’s objective is to fight against poverty in Senegal. To do so, she trained and organized more than 2000 women into cooperatives in the rural areas of Kédougou and Tambacounda. The cosmetic brand is a success story for fair and sustainable business.

Speaking on behalf of Capital Emergence, Anne-Laure Héritier said “We need to further capitalize on our capacity to manage transnational projects and financing. The idea was launched to create a platform for SME/SMIs with a virtual showroom to promote Swiss and Senegalese products in the two countries. We really want  to help facilitate investments between Switzerland and Senegal, to become the gateway for  SME/SMIs who are looking to invest in one of these two markets.”

Capital Emergence also facilitated the signature of a general cooperation agreement between the CCIG and the UNCCIAS (Union des Chambres de Commerce et d’Industries et d’Agriculture du Sénégal). The agreement, which opens new promising active cooperation between the two countries, was officially signed on March 21st during the Africa CEO Forum.


Business development in Africa and China

Philippe Zwahlen is founder of SST (Selective Synergies Transnational), a consulting company based in Shanghai and Hong Kong. “There is a lot to do in Africa, similar as how it was for China long time ago,” he told GBN at the networking cocktail. Zwahlen witnessed the change and fast economic development of China over the past 30 years during his professional experience.

Partnering with Capital Emergence, Zwahlen’s company serves as an “in-the-know” conduit for transnational business opportunities between Europe and Asia. Together, Capital Emergence and SST have developed an investment match-making service specially designed for SME/SMIs.

Given his experience, Philippe Zwahlen found it easy to make the comparison between China and places like Senegal. As co-founder of “Swiss Week” in Shanghai, he integrated Senegal as an emerging market into this event. His focus will now be on taking the concept of “Swiss Week” and creating a “Senegal Week” in Switzerland, possibly in 2018.

Carmen Gretler Carmen Gretler

As a Swiss based business representative, I am experienced in building and managing strong Chinese social and business networks in Europe and China and acting to partner and support companies in Switzerland and China.

I know who to coordinate with to deal with a situation. I base my judgements so I look after the needs of the company and the clients.

My communication skills are central to what I have done, particularly promoting Swiss destinations, products or services. In addition, I am an active freelance journalist having published in various Chinese and Swiss media.

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