by Jacky Muraba

During President Dr. William Ruto’s recent historic visit to the United States, Equity Group Holdings played a key role in strengthening private sector collaboration between Kenya and the US. In Washington, DC, Equity organized a significant event at the US Senate Dirksen building, convening US Senators, House Members, leaders from various US agencies, and private sector representatives from Kenya and East Africa for an informal hearing on private sector opportunities on the continent, a panel discussion on why including the private sector was key to the success of the US-Kenya relationship, followed by a reception for 500 attendees.

Dr. James Mwangi, Equity Group Holdings MD and CEO while highlighting the significance of merging private and public sector efforts for sustainable growth, welcomed the gathering to the event by stating , “In this historic chamber, in this historic building, men and women have come together throughout time in memoriam to progress and advance lives and livelihoods for the betterment of all peoples, everywhere. Today we bring the power and the resources of the private sector, together with the influence of the public sector to create policy with the implementers of the global economy so that we may exponentially add to the sustainable growth and development for both our peoples and for the future of our families and our families’ families in both Africa and America.”

Honorable US Senators Cory Booker and Ben Cardin, along with Esteemed House of Representative Members, along with Congresswomen Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Barbara Lee emphasized on the need to support private sector economic and social partnerships for sustainable development and Kenya stepping up onto the global stage.

Senator Ben Cardin, whom Equity Group has been building a strong relationship with since the December 2022 US Africa Leaders’ Summit in support of the `Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (ARRP) stated, “A strong private sector is vital to sustained economic growth, job creation, and resilience.”

While Senator Cory Booker, who had visited the Equity Group while in Kenya in April concurred with the comments of Dr. Mwangi during the roundtable discussion, particularly centered on changing the narrative about Africa. “I agree with your statement that Africa is a continent of endless possibilities, vast resources, and is holding solutions to all of humanity’s problems,” said the Senator.

Equity Group Managing Director and CEO, Dr. James Mwangi speaks to high-ranking U.S. congressional leaders, government officials, and leaders from the U.S. and Kenyan private sector during a roundtable discussion at Capitol Hill, hosted by Equity Group. The discussion which was held on the sidelines of the historic U.S – Kenya State Visit, sort to put forth strategies to inform U.S.-Africa trade legislation and advance public-private partnerships that achieve shared policy goals and prosperity. Dr. Mwangi spoke about the Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan and the pivotal role Kenya plays in Africa’s development

The roundtable panel discussion featured leaders from the US government agencies in charge of financial allocations to the continent as well as global and regional private sector leaders. Key participants included

  1. Dan Swift, Deputy Coordinator, Prosper Africa,
  2. Chidi Blyden, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC),
  3. Danica R. Starks, Senior U.S. Commercial Liaison and Advisor to the U.S. Executive Director at the World Bank/MDB Lead at the U.S. Department of Commerce,
  4. Jane Rhee, Chief of Staff, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the development finance institution and agency of the United States federal government;
  5. the Honorable Chair and President of the US-EXIM Bank, Reta Jo Lewis, the official export credit agency of the United States federal government; and,
  6. Philana Mugyenyi, Director, Government Affairs and Market Access, Sub-Saharan Africa, GE Healthcare;
  7. Carole Kariuki, CEO, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA);
  8. Deean Fontaine, Senior Director, Public Affairs and Regulatory, Africa, American Tower,
  9. As well as Dr. Mwangi.

Discussions highlighted the long-standing over 60 years US-Kenya relationship and framed future engagements through a private sector perspective.

Chidi Blyden, stated that, “Kenya’s Compact program is the biggest threshold program that MCC has ever done”; while Jane Rhee, clarified that, “DFC can now work with companies other than the U.S. companies on their investment projects.”

A special moment in the event came when Honorable Congresswoman, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick made the announcement that she had introduced US House Resolution 1254, a resolution championed by Equity Group and inspired by the ARRP and the historical ties of the US-Kenya relationship, which recognized the importance of President Ruto’s State Visit in strengthening the partnership between the two countries.

While in Washington, DC, Dr. Mwangi and the Equity Group delegation took part in the US Chamber of Commerce Business Forum where Dr. Mwangi was featured in a panel focused on digital platforms for financial inclusion alongside Mastercard CEO, Michael Miebach and Microsoft President, Brad Smith and where it was announced that Equity Group would be one of five founding members of the inaugural Mastercard Community Pass, MADE Alliance – funded in part by the African Development Bank and championed by US Vice President Kamala Harris – alongside Microsoft Airband, Heifer International, Unconnected.org  and the Syngenta Foundation in order to support the scaling up of small scale farmers on the African continent to agribusiness, while using digital platforms to reach the last mile.

Equity Group signed agreements with HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprises) and HPI (Hewlett Packard Inc.) for advanced technology acquisitions to acquire state of the art, advanced storage, cloud and hardware technologies to support their growth ambitions. Dr. Mwangi attended the White House welcoming ceremony and State Dinner for President Ruto. In Atlanta, the delegation visited Tyler Perry Studios, signed academic ties with Spelman University, and announced a partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control to support Kenya’s pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Mwangi’s leadership extended to the Africa Climate Summit and the African Development Bank meetings in Nairobi, advocating for private sector voice into the climate action discussion during the September 2023 Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi where the Group led the creation of a Private Sector Declaration on Climate Action with partners; and the development of the private sector focused `Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (ARRP) which the Group created and has been implementing for two years. Upon returning to Kenya, he presented the vision for a private sector-led future at the Kenya Private Sector Alliance’s (KEPSA) inaugural meeting.

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