By Essie Wambui
Friendly competition is an anomaly except maybe within the confines of a golf course, where competition and business alliances happen simultaneously. That was the thought behind the creation of the annual Canada East Africa Chamber of Commerce (CEACC) Business Networking Golf tournament.
The 3rd Edition of this dinner and golf was held on September 10, 2015 at the Turnberry Golf Club in Brampton, ON.
Like other CEACC events, this one was geared to provide an opportunity for Canadian businesses, investors and friends to meet with the East African community and some of its business leaders for issues of mutual benefit.
The Kenya High Commissioner to Canada and Cuba, Ambassador John Lanyasunya was the keynote speaker and presented awards to the tournament winners. In his address, Amb. Lanyasunya acknowledged the Chamber and other participants for their common goal to promote the interests of East African countries in Canada.
“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. 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 people from various sectors, who have an interest in East Africa. They include corporate, not-for-profit organizations, governmental agencies and individuals in search of mutual benefit.
Harvey Shoemaker and Daivid Gross are such businessmen representing two of the four directors of Trillium Global Humanitarian Developments Inc., an organization dedicated to growth and development in affordable shelter, food and energy in developing countries.
Shoemaker said he enjoyed the event’s “like-minded camaraderie.” Laying out the operations of Trillium Global Humanitarian Developments Inc, Shoemaker described their programs as well suited for the East African region.
“All these are efficient, turnkey, start to finish programs that are needed to improve lives by creating employment, high quality shelter, education, food for the hungry and to convert local garbage into energy.” Shoemaker pronounced. “In addition, our programs include training and management assistance to local populations, to ensure sustainable long-term success for each community.”
He asserted that their housing structures, for homes and schools, for example, are and water proof, built to withstand extreme weather conditions and are fungus, mold and mildew resistant. The food ‘Grow Centres’ require less land than conventional farming. “Another program involves converting waste, wood and coal into electrical energy with zero emissions to the environment.” He explained.
Introduction of Wave, a new player in international remittances market
In attendance also 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.
Instant, no-fee money transfer sounded too good to be true for many in the room. And that, Fogel clarified, 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 banks are trading money at the real rate of KES 79 per CAD, all money-transfer companies will offer rates in the 76-77 range. Wave therefore makes their profit on the exchange rate margin. However, because Wave is a web-based company that has automated the entire process, that exchange rate income is all they need, according to Fogel.
The Wave representative also addressed some concerns regarding the security of the app. “Wave encrypts customers’ data using a 128-bit encryption, currently the most sophisticated encryption on the market.” He assured.
He closed by urging people to download the app from sendwave.com and give it a try by sending $1 to someone in East Africa. And by the reaction of those who tried this, it was clear that Canada’s money transfer market has a new competitor.
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 African member countries of Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania & Uganda. Others are Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles. It promotes businesses 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).