June 1, 2015
A new report on the economic potential of African immigrants got a lot of local media attention with the top TV program TPT Almanac and the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal featuring the report on Friday, May 29, 2015 as it was released to the public. The report was released at an event attended by top community leaders in the African immigrant community in Minnesota at Snelling Café in the Little Africa business and cultural district in Saint Paul. Also attending were representatives from the City of Saint Paul, DEED, MnDOT, Greater MSP, LISC, Concordia University and Argosy University. Tweeting the report as it was released was Pioneer Press Reporter, Frederick Melo. Community leaders who spoke in support of the report included Little Africa founder, Gene Gelgelu of AEDS, Tom Gitaa – Publisher, Mshale , Mesfin Negia, Ethiopian Community of Minnesota, Hassen Hussein, Oromo Community of Minnesota, Dr. Kehinde Odusote, Minnesota Institute for Nigerian Development, Fartun Weli, Isuroon, Michael Fondungallah, Hayatham Ibrahim, Sudanese Community of Minnesota, Kwao Amegashie, Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Lamin Dibba, Gambian Community of Minnesota, Teshite Wako, Oromo Chamber of Commerce, and Rev. Isaac Mitchell, Liberia Ministers Association. The report was funded by a grant from The McKnight Foundation.
The event feature African food and entertainment that was supported by African immigrant businesses, Rift Valley Transportation, Rebecca’s Bakery, Snelling Cafe, Addis Travel, A & A Reliable Home Care,LLC as well as Little Africa and Chai.
Core messages of the report is given below together with links to the report and slides from the presentation:
African immigrants in Minnesota are an important engine of economic growth, especially along transit corridors.
This report documents their role in the almost $2 billion consumer markets, ranging from retail sales to housing markets; as entrepreneurs, workers, tax payers and in trade. Estimates are derived from a large and diverse sample of over 500 consumers and over 100 businesses. Entrepreneurship especially female entrepreneurship is high in this community. Large numbers of African immigrants live and work around the major transit corridors.
African immigrants are very strongly aligned with the core founding principle of America as a land of opportunity and freedom and demonstrate high civic engagement – the moral sentiment in the Declaration of Independence.
The report documents very high support for the core founding principle of America as a land of opportunity and the American Dream; 70 percent voter turnout with people using public transit exclusively having 80 percent voter turnout; over 60 percent volunteer. They pay at least $200 million annually in Minnesota taxes to help build the state. Strongest support for American founding principles.
Africa is a continent with many countries and diverse communities and is reflected in the diversity within African immigrants to Minnesota. Cultural intelligence is needed in the policy infrastructure of Minnesota to ensure that all people are included. Government data such as the Census, Survey of Business Owners and the Consumer Expenditure Survey does a great disservice to this diverse community by undercounting or not providing an estimate of their presence in the economy.
The report includes the diversity and offers estimates of businesses and consumer spending.
African immigrants are generous people and exercise philanthropy in unique ways, very often outside the “tax-deduction philanthropy.” Philanthropic intelligence is needed to help this community achieve economies of scale in economic development efforts and in remittance systems.
The report estimates that this community donates $14 million annually to domestic charities and $151 million to family, relatives and economic development projects in various countries of Africa.
The market for exports to Africa and African investments in Minnesota is largely untapped.
Minnesota does very little trade with Africa, $244 million. There is potential to tap the global networks of African immigrant communities to facilitate this new area.
African immigrants and business owners overwhelmingly support the concept of leveraging cultural assets as an economic development strategy
There was overwhelming support for the concept of Little Africa- marketing and branding effort, virtually and in certain destination areas of high African immigrant population.
The ethnic market for African products and services is estimated to be $281 million annually.
This is an estimate of the amount of money that circulates within the African immigrant community or the ethnic economy.
The report was produced by Dr. Bruce Corrie, economist at Concordia University together with a team of community partners.
Slides from The Market Potential of African Immigrants PR.
One page summary can be found at AFIMP summary
TPT Almanac segment can be viewed here.
The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal Article can be found here.
Photo Credit: Little Africa