Anthony Anderson, Vice Chair and Midwest Managing Partner of Ernst & Young hosted Prime Minister Tsvangirai for a breakfast meeting at the Ernst & Young Chicago offices attended by past Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winners which include Chris Dalton, Chairman and CEO of Acquity Group and Doug Waggoner, CEO of Echo Global Logistics.
Acquity Group is a world leading multi-channel commerce and digital marketing firm that helps global brands create award-winning digital experiences. Echo Global Logistics is a leading provider of technology-enabled business process outsourcing, serving the transportation and logistics needs of our clients. The purpose of the meeting was to provide key information to entrepreneurs about the investment climate in Zimbabwe and also answer industry-specific questions from the entrepreneurs who are keen on exploring the emerging markets in the African region.
Chairman and CEO of Loop Capital Markets, Jim Reynolds also hosted a luncheon at the Chicago Club for Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his delegation. The luncheon was attended by members of the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE). The Alliance of Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs is a non-profit organization, founded in 1992 to establish business relationships for its members and to promote business opportunities and inclusion in the corporate community. ABLE, headquartered in the city of Chicago, is comprised of a select group of leading African American CEOs, representing a broad spectrum of business enterprises nationally, and internationally.
In aggregate, the members of ABLE generate annual revenues in excess of $3 billion. The luncheon presented a unique platform for the Prime Minister to engage the ABLE members to visit Zimbabwe and see the numerous investment opportunities available. The Mayor of Harare, Muchadeyi Masunda, in his capacity as Chairman of Old Mutual and Vice Chairman of Zimplats in Zimbabwe also shared his perspectives at the luncheon on the business climate and opportunities available for African-American investors in Zimbabwe.
Another partner of the Zimbabwe Trade & Cultural Expo, Michael Cole, Managing Director of Madison Dearborn Capital Partners hosted a dinner for Prime Minister Tsvangirai at an exclusive private club in Chicago attended by influential investors and entrepreneurs. Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP), the largest private equity firm in Chicago with $14 billion in assets, invests in management buyout and other private equity transactions across a broad spectrum of industries.
MDP's objective is to invest in companies in partnership with outstanding management teams to achieve significant long-term appreciation in equity value. MDP generally seeks to invest $100 million to $600 million of equity capital in a single transaction. MDP focuses on several specific industry sectors: Basic Industries, Communications, Consumer, Energy & Power, Financial Services and Healthcare.
At the dinner, the Prime Minister discussed how there are several policies in place to attract foreign investment including the One Stop Shop program. Many attendees expressed a strong interest in pursuing various business prospects particularly in the financial services sector. Some of the attendees at the dinner included Linda Johnson Rice owner of the renowned magazine publications – Ebony and Jet.
During his visit, Prime Minister Tsvangirai was at the world corporate headquarters of plane manufacturer, Boeing in Chicago where he met with senior corporate executives which include Rik Geiersbach, Vice President, Corporate Strategy at Boeing and Directors of Corporate Finance & Banking in the Treasury Department. Boeing gave a formal presentation on the array of planes that the manufacturer had available for commercial use.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Tsvangirai expressed that Air Zimbabwe, the nation’s airline, was currently working on updating its fleet of aircraft. Senior executives at Boeing conveyed a willingness and strong desire to work closely with Air Zimbabwe to provide them with the latest aircraft available including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Upon concluding the meeting, Prime Minister Tsvangirai was taken for a tour of the Boeing corporate headquarters where he was shown some of the company’s products which include artifacts from space craft that have been used in trips made to Mars by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In addition to Boeing, Prime Minister Tsvangirai visited Luster Products where he was met by the Chief Executive Officer, Jory Luster and taken for a tour of the company’s facilities. Luster Products, Inc. is the leading African-American owned and operated manufacturer of premium personal care products servicing people of African descent worldwide with annual revenues of approximately $400 million. Luster Products' brands include the Pink Brand, products for women; S-Curl, products for men; PCJ Pretty-n-Silky & Smooth Roots, children products; YOU, unisex products and Designer Touch, products for stylists.
In a meeting with the Luster Products top management, Prime Minister Tsvangirai commended the company’s quality standards and the company successful implementation of the Kaizen process of continual improvement which has propelled the company’s growth. During the meeting, Reginald Maynor, Director of International Sales at Luster Products discussed the company’s international operations in South Africa and Britain. He also spoke in detail about the company’s long term vision to continue expanding its operations across the African region particularly in Zimbabwe given the sound infrastructure, educated workforce and also the strategic geographic location of country in southern Africa.
Luster Products will be working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and as the company continues to grow internationally. Prime Minister Tsvangirai and the Mayor of Harare were presented with awards of appreciation in honor of their visit to Chicago, Illinois and the Luster Products manufacturing plant.
The Prime Minister and his delegation also met with the city leaders in Chicago to foster a mutual trade relationship between the State of Illinois and Zimbabwe. Prime Minister Tsvangirai met with renowned civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson Senior and Congressman Bobby L. Rush. At the Rainbow Push Coalition with Reverend Jesse Jackson, the Premier delivered a powerful speech that was televised to millions of people across the world. Furthermore, Prime Minister Tsvangirai met with the Deputy Governor of Illinois, Cristal Thomas and Warren Ribley, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to discuss economic ties between Illinois and Zimbabwe. Senior members of the Prime Minister’s delegation also met with the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White.
As a capstone to the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe’s visit to Chicago, the Zimbabwe Trade & Cultural Expo hosted the 3rd Annual gala honoring the Prime Minister at the Hyatt McCormick Place Hotel on September 17, 2011. The theme for the gala was “Chartering New African Frontiers.” Guest speakers at the black tie event included Congressman Bobby L. Rush. Prime Minister Tsvangirai delivered the key-note speech at the gala which was well received by those in attendance which included civic leaders, business executives and local Zimbabweans who are based in the United States of America.
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About Zimbabwe Trade & Cultural Expo
The Zimbabwe Trade and Cultural Expo is a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois whose primary focus is the creation of new markets, increased trade, investment opportunities and partnerships between Zimbabwean, American businesses, and international corporations. ZTCE provides a platform for investors and entrepreneurs to build long term and fruitful relationships with Zimbabwean corporations and other companies in Sub-Sahara Africa.