By Esther “Essie” Wambui
Friendly competition is an anomaly except maybe within the confines of a golf course, where competition and business alliances happen simultaneously in a social environment. That perhaps was what the thought when Canada East Africa Chamber of Commerce (CEACC) created the annual business networking golf tournament.
The 3rd Edition of the CEACC Golf Tournament and Business Networking Dinner was held on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at the Turnberry Golf Club in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
This, like other CEACC events, provided a great opportunity to Canadian business people, investors and friends to meet and network with East African community and some of its business leaders for issues of mutual benefit.
The Kenya High Commissioner to Canada and Cuba, H.E. Ambassador John Lanyasunya was the Chief Guest and presented awards to the tournament winners.
In his address, Amb. Lanyasunya appreciated both the Chamber and other participants for their common goal to promote the interests of East African countries in Canada and elsewhere.
“On behalf of other East African ambassadors, I thank and appreciate the role of the Chamber in supporting trade opportunities between Canada and East Africa.” he said. “And as the ambassador of Kenya to Canada, I’m assuring our support to the CEACC in the go-between role they play.”
CEACC events bring together many from various sectors, who have general or particular interest in East Africa. They include corporate, governmental agencies and not-for-profit organizations, all in search of mutual benefits.
Harvey Shoemaker and Daivid Gross are such businessmen representing two of the four directors of Trillium Global Humanitarian Developments Inc., an organisation dedicated to growth and development in the areas of affordable shelter, food and energy in developing countries.
Shoemaker said it was “a sincere pleasure to meet everyone and enjoy like-minded camaraderie at the Canada East Africa Chamber of Commerce meeting.”
Laying out the operations of their organisation, Shoemaker described their programs as well suited for the East African region.
He asserted that their housing structures, for homes and schools, for example, are fire and water proof, built to withstand extreme weather conditions while improving health as they are fungus, mould and mildew resistant. The ‘Grow Centres’ require less land mass than conventional farming for production of many times over, organic food capacity. “The other program ‘Waste to Energy’ involves converting waste, wood and coal into electrical energy with zero emissions to the environment.” He explained.
“All theseare efficient, turnkey, start to finish programs that are needed to improve lives by creating employment, high quality shelter, education, feeding the hungry and converting local dumps/garbage into energy.” He pronounced. “They include training and management assistance to local populations, to ensure sustainable long-term success for each community.”
Also in attendance was Will Fogel, Head of Growth for Wave, a mobile app that allows East Africans in the diaspora to send instant, no-fee money transfers back home. The app links to the sender’s bank account in North America and transfers money directly to a recipient’s account: M-Pesa in Kenya and Tanzania, MTN Money and Airtel in Uganda where M-Pesa does not exist. Launched in the USA in 2014, Wave opened operations in Canada in late August.
For many in attendance, instant, no-fee transfer sounded too good to be true. And that, Fogel said, was part of why he was in Toronto. “When we launched in the US, everyone was excited about Wave, but they were also worried that ‘no fees’ was too good to be true.”
He explained that other competing money transfer programs make money in two ways: a lot on fees and a little on the exchange rate. For instance: If the “real rate” banks are trading money at KSH 79 per CAD, all money-transfer companies will offer rates in the 76-77 range. Wave only makes that few shillings on the exchange rate. However, because Wave is a software company that has automated the entire process, that exchange rate income is all they need.
Fogel also addressed some concerns regarding the security of the app. “Wave encrypts customers’ data on their phones before it goes anywhere using a 128-bit encryption, the most sophisticated encryption on the market.” He assured.
He closed by urging attendees to download the app at sendwave.com and give it a try by sending even $1 to someone in East Africa. Many attendees tried the app during the event and judging from their reaction, it was clear that Canada’s money transfer market has a new rival.
Will Fogel and the Wave team can be reached with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 966-8603.
In addition to the annual golf tournament, The Canada East Africa Chamber of Commerce organizes many other events including investment forums and international trade shows.
CEACC is a not-for profit organization that promotes trade, tourism and investment opportunities between Canada and East Africa. The East Africa member countries include Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania & Uganda. Others are Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles. The businesses it promotes are in banking & finance, energy & mining, travel & tourism, building & construction, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, environment and natural resources.
-By Essie Wambui for The Canada East Africa Chamber of Commerce (CEACC).