The Sharing Economy reaches Africa

Uber. Lyft. Airbnb. Ebay. These companies using cutting edge technology have transformed the way the transportation and hospitality industries operate. Dubbed as pioneers of the sharing economy, the emergence of information technology and online marketplaces have allowed for the optimization of resources or the sharing of excess goods and services. That is the core premise of these businesses.

There are now 17 multi-billion dollar companies in the sharing economy around the world with 60,000 employees and $15 billion in funding in the sharing economy. 12 of them including Lyft, Airbnb, and Uber are based in the United States. 1 is based in Europe and 4 are based in Asia and Australia. Of these companies, 46% are involved in the money and transportation industries while another 36% are in the goods and space sector.

Now, the agriculture sector has joined the bandwagon. Hello Tractor, the brainchild of Jehiel Oliver is an Anacostia-based U.S. company that follows an Uber business model in lending tractors to farmers in Nigeria. Oliver devised a business model where farmers send a text message to Hello Tractor’s U.S.-based dispatchers who then located the nearest GPS-embedded Smart Tractor and alert the service provider. The tractors typically arrive within three days. Farmers can conveniently prepay for the services through SMS messaging and mobile money. Payment is only released once the service is completed.

“Nigeria has one of the largest inventories of uncultivated rain-fed farmland. But much crops are lost because of labor shortages and lack of mechanization,” Oliver said. The “Smart Tractor” that his business provides to farmers comes with attachments that produces in one day what Nigerian farmers do manually in 40 days. While the tractors benefit the farmers by cutting their labor costs by two-thirds, the service providers get additional revenue as well. For a $75 daily fee, tractor owners could earn five times the average wage.

When Oliver was working in investment banking, he visited developing countries and saw microfinance models in play. “I wanted to serve the base of the pyramid – to support the people who simply needed tools to enable them to be self-sufficient,” Oliver said. “Despite all the negative news you read about the Boko Haram or Ebola, you can’t ignore Africa.” Sharing is big business that goes beyond borders.



Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Scheduled to Speak on Africa in Atlanta

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Spotlight on… Secretary Penny Pritzker Atlanta Keynote on Business in Africa

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Africa, Middle East, and India
San Antonio, TX         May 1-2

Los Angeles, CA        June 3-4

Free Trade Agreement Countries
Detroit, MI                  Sept. 9-10

China and Gateway Countries
New York, NY            Oct. 7-8

The Americas
Charlotte, NC             Oct. 29-31

Sub-Saharan Africa
Atlanta, GA                Nov. 5-6

Healthcare and Life Sciences
Minneapolis, MN       Nov. 17-18

Global Sustainable Solutions
Silicon Valley, CA       Feb 9-11

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“The Discover Global Markets was a huge success for us. We believe this is definitely the best approach to connecting America with Global Markets and this facet should be moved to the fore front with regular scheduled meetings utilizing as many countries as possible.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will recommend others to follow this path if they want to succeed in the Global Market. This was a job well done by all and I was extremely impressed at its execution.”

– Michael Wayne Staney
Chairman, Paradigm Shift Technologies Group, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Secretary Pritzker

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

Secretary Pritzker is a key leader of the Doing Business in Africa Initiative, connecting more and more U.S. companies to opportunities on the continent.

She’s scheduled to speak at DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Sub-Saharan Africa in Atlanta, November 5-6.

Register now to hear about how the government will continue to develop the U.S-Africa commercial relationship, creatingmore opportunities for your business.

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At this DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS event you will also have the opportunity to meet and hear from private sector experts as well as U.S. Commercial Diplomats representing the following countries:

Angola, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania

Want to meet and hear insights from U.S. Commercial Diplomats from other parts of the world?

The Americas (October 29-31, 2014)

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay

Healthcare & Life Services (November 17-18, 2014)

Brazil, Canada, Chile Colombia, European Union (Regulations), Greece, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam

Global Sustainable Solutions (February 9-11, 2015)

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nordics, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, U.A.E., and the U.K.

Global Markets for Smaller Firms

With the world’s population now exceeding 7 billion people and more of those people entering middle class status, new and innovative solutions will be needed to provide them food and nourishment.  There is increasing demand for dietary protein sources that include livestock and seafood. As a result of this and the increasing strains on natural fisheries, the aquaculture industry has been the fastest growing food sector globally.  Aquaculture is growing across Southeast Asia, in Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, India, and Cambodia, and now in Western Africa in Ghana and Nigeria.

Several hundred miles away from the Atlantic Ocean, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania seems an unlikely place for the cutting edge of aquaculture research and development.  Yet, that is where Zeigler Bros, Inc. is researching and producing innovative new products for specialty animal and aquatic diets, particularly in fish shrimp farms.  The company also operates a franchise program that transfers technology to international partner feed mills.

Zeigler Bros. grew from its origins in 1935 as  a local producer of poultry and livestock feed for Pennsylvania farmers. The company began exporting in the 1980’s and now sells its products in over 40 countries.  Since aquaculture has grown in overseas markets so rapidly, international sales now account for more than half of Zeigler’s business.  Zeigler received the Presidential E-Award for Export Excellence from the U.S. International Trade Administration in 2013 for its emphasis on exports.  Chris Stock, the International Sales Manager for Zeigler, described the importance of exports for business:  “It’s a no-brainer.  You should be exporting.  If you’re not, start learning about it, talk to other exporters and just go for it.  I think the key things to exporting are persistence and patience…If you don’t enter the export market, you’re limiting your sales in a big way, no doubt about it.

When asked about new markets for Zeigler Bros., Stock said:  “Africa is on the cusp, I think.  A lot of people see the opportunity, so it’s a great time to get in early, because it’s a huge emerging middle class that’s developing there with spending power.  They need things more than any other part of the world… And, there’s reason to take it slow when entering Africa and be cautious, but the opportunity outweighs the risk.”

Sources:  “Helping Feed the World Through Exports”, Doug Barry, U.S. International Trade Administration, September 13, 2013;, accessed November 11, 2013

Weekly Update: Top 5 International Business News Trends

The latest International Business Headlines from last week are reported to you below. Please report to their individual websites to read the full articles. Check for updates every Monday.

1.  Cyprus’ president says he expects international creditors’ latest review to approve the country’s handling of its bailout program.

2. A technological revolution is sweeping across Africa, bringing with it deep Internet penetration and exploding rates of smartphone usage.

3. The proportion of women commanding managing director roles in London has doubled

4. The U.S. may have monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel for over a decade according to reports from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

5. For the first time in 126 years, the Vatican Bank published an annual report in an attempt to be more transparent and divert allegations of corruption.

News from the USTR: Ambassador Froman Concludes Africa Trip

The Office of the United States Trade Representative stated in a press release that Ambassador Michael Froman returned on July 2 from a four-day visit to Sub-Saharan Africa. Ambassador Froman had joined President Obama in Senegal and Tanzania to highlight U.S. commitment to enhancing economic engagement with Africa.

Ambassador Froman met with country leaders to discuss business opportunities, investment, and ways that the private sector can contribute to and benefit from Africa’s rise. In addition, Ambassador Froman held discussions with African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka and Secretary General of the East African Community Richard Sezibera on cooperation for two new initiatives announced by President Obama – Power Africa and Trade Africa – which aim to increase electricity generation.

According to the USTR, total two-way trade between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012 was valued at $72.3 billion. U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan Africa were up $1.5 billion, or 7.1 percent, from 2011, and up 277 percent from 2002. African exports to the U.S. totaled $49.7 billion in 2012, and non-oil exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have more than tripled since enactment of AGOA in 2001.