Speech for Deputy Chief of Mission – Entrepreneurship Expo, West African Research Center November 13, 2017

DCM Martina Boustani
Entrepreneurship Expo
 West African Research Center
 Monday, November 13, 2017, 1730

(As prepared) 

Thank you for coming to this event in recognition of Global Entrepreneurship Week.  I would first like to thank Ousmane Sene and the staff of WARC—the West African Research Center—for hosting this event.  We value WARC’s partnership on a wide range of programs including events like this, exchange programs between Senegal and the United States, and WARC’s collaboration with the Young African Leaders Initiative—or YALI—Regional Leadership Center.

From November 28-30, entrepreneurs and investors from around the world will gather in Hyderabad, India for the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit.  I am pleased to announce that two alumni of the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship program will be attending this year’s summit.  Aboubacar Kemo Toure, who is with us today, will represent Senegal and his jobs platform site, Wutiko.com.  The U.S. Embassy in Dakar also covers Guinea Bissau and Adulai Bary, a YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship alumnus from Guinea Bissau, will be attending the summit as well and will represent his incubator, Innovalab.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is held before the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, but entrepreneurship is something that the U.S. government supports throughout the year.  Along with Senegalese partners, we support entrepreneurship and economic growth in many ways.  We work with the agricultural sector to boost productivity and increase access to markets.  We are also committed to expanding trade and investment opportunities through AGOA—the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

The U.S. Embassy supports budding entrepreneurs through exchange programs such as YALI, the International Visitors Leadership Program, the SUSI program on social entrepreneurship, and others.

Through these exchange programs we target future business leaders.  They expand their skills and networks during their exchange programs and return to further develop their businesses and their careers.

Today, we have assembled a group of alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs who are entrepreneurs, business owners, and experts in the fields of information technology, agriculture, fashion, and professional development.  They are ready and eager to talk to you about their businesses and career paths and to answer your questions.  I thank all of the volunteers for taking the time to be here at this event.

But this is a two-way street.  You have your own experiences to share and I hope that you will expand your networks during this event.

Senegal’s future is bright, as young people like you work to expand employment opportunities and contribute to economic growth.

Sustainable economic growth is not possible without an investment in education, so it is appropriate that Global Entrepreneurship Week is also International Education Week.  To that end, we also have a table on education opportunities in the United States—both short-term exchange programs and degree programs at U.S. colleges and universities. Additionally, there are several students who earned their university degrees in the United States who will be happy to share their advice on the application process and their experiences in the United States.

Receiving international students from diverse backgrounds at U.S. institutions strengthens ties between the United States and other countries.  U.S. colleges and universities welcome international students from a range of racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds for the unique and varied perspectives they provide both in and out of the classroom.

The U.S. Embassy offers EducationUSA, a free service that provides information on the U.S. higher education application process.  I encourage you to visit the education table for more information.

Whether you are interested in learning more about entrepreneurship, or studying in the United States, or both, I hope that this event will be useful for you.  As the entrepreneurs and business owners here can attest to, starting a business or launching a new career isn’t easy.  It takes dedication, determination, and a strong network.  I encourage all of you to keep up the hard work you are doing and to keep pursuing your goals.

I wish you all the best.