Africa is an important investment destination for some of the top industries and fortune 500 companies contributing to the area’s health and employment in St Louis. Some of the corporations benefiting from Africa ties include Anheuser-Busch, Cargill, Bunge, Emerson, and Danforth Plant Science center. Major agricultural and health care biotechnology companies like Bayer and Pfizer, are doing great business in Africa.

Many Universities in St Louis are involved in Africa. An example is Webster University opening its campus in Accra, Ghana, Washington University study abroad programs in South Africa, and Student exchange program in Kenya. Through the Africa initiative, Washington University has 128 faculty members working in over 36 countries in Africa, focusing on research, education, and innovation.

African Immigrants also contribute to St Louis cultural life like the annual Festival of Nations, St Louis African Arts festivals, St. Louis International Film Festival, and other events across the region. World Trade Center St. Louis sister city program, includes Saint-Louis and Senegal help to connect the locals with international business contacts. St Louis Mosaic Project, Greater St Louis Inc, and the wonderful people of St Louis are doing a great job of attracting and retaining great talents in the region.

African Immigrants Scholars and entrepreneurs are making great economic impacts in the St Louis region. A few examples include: Ola Ayeni, president and CEO of Claim Academy, founded a premier developer boot camp that offers programs in software engineering and cybersecurity in St. Louis. Arinola Solanke, founder and Executive Director of My Events Coordinator Party Rental runs a full-service event management company in St. Louis.Oliver and Betty Chibwe operate African restaurants and now supply African food at Schnucks stores in St. Louis.

Many prominent leaders in St Louis have personal ties to Africa. This include: Dr. Yemi Akande, Nigerian Native is the President and CEO of FOCUS St Louis, Amadou Yattassaye, a native from Mali is the president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri. Judge Shirley Mensah, a native from Sierra Leone is the chief magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Missouri. During the Pandemic, African Immigrants have been at the forefront of providing exceptional services as essential workers( ie as nurses, doctors, truck drivers, and police. Dr Matifadza Hlatshwayo, is an instructor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University School of Medicine, also serves in St. Louis City Board of Health. Dr Nhial Tutlam, is the Chronic Disease Epidemiology Manager at Saint Louis County Department of Public Health.

Non profit organizations led by African immigrants are making a great impact in the region through workforce development, youth empowerment, women empowerment, business startups, and housing. Some examples include: Vitendo4africa, Mission to welcome, connect and empower African immigrants and refugees is serving over 20,000 Immigrants in St Louis. Arrey Obenson, the Cameroon native, is the president and CEO of the International Institute. Yinka Falati served as vice president of United Way St Louis, the Lead catalyst of Forward Ferguson, and was the first black African to run for Missouri Secretary of State in the last election. You can help to change the narrative about Africa by doing simple things. Be intentional to source the right information about Africa, travel to Africa, share your stories, and connect with people outside your common network. Whatever information you learn, please be generous and share to educate others.

Vitendo4Africa Building Momentum speaker Series and Bridging Culture Forums provide a platform for many Americans to learn WHY AFRICA MATTERS TO ST LOUIS. Credit to Judd Devermont and CSIS Africa Program. Africa Matters to U.S. Cities | Center for Strategic and International Studies (csis.org)

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