Michigan Black Chamber President/CEO to Visit Africa



 Detroit, Michigan, May 8, 2013 – The Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce President/CEO Kenneth Harris’s plans to research the role of innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as how they impact urban economic growth, in Africa from May 9-28, 2013.

Harris, a Ph.D. candidate in African American Studies with a specialization in Entrepreneurship in the Eli Broad School of Business at Michigan State University, hopes to conduct original research on the continent of Africa that will make a significant contribution to the field of entrepreneurship. While preparing for his dissertation research, Harris will participate in a unique international service learning and research-intensive course in South Africa. For Harris, the course presents an opportunity for immersion in real-life contexts, because it will directly examine, discover, and engage the African worldview in practice as a prerequisite for the research. Harris will visit Johannesburg, Pilanesberg, Port Elizabeth, Tsitsikamma, Oudtshoorn, and Cape Town in South Africa, all of which constitute dynamic sites for studying the intersections of race, identity, and historical legacies that inform the country’s current rapidly transformational entrepreneurial, political, cultural, and economic structures.

At the University of South Africa in Pretoria, the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, and the University of Johannesburg in Soweto, Harris’s primary goal is to conduct a study of innovation-driven entrepreneurship in South Africa that identifies and analyzes South African economic development successes in order to construct contextual views of entrepreneurship in the urban marketplace. Of particular interest are South Africa’s positive economic experiences over the last decade. What are the root causes of these developments? To what extent are they sustainable and transferable to other African countries and to Black-owned businesses in the United States?

Other goals of the project are to significantly add to the quality of research on the entrepreneurial impact of South African economic development and to establish linkages between the country’s businesses and African American businesses in the United States. Harris particularly wants to learn more about the South African entrepreneurial mindset, culture, and environment with the aim of making serious studies of South Africa more mainstream endeavors in the fields of applied economics and entrepreneurial development.

The final goal of the research is to systematize the available data on South Africa. Harris hopes to establish a website that will act as an inventory and clearinghouse of economic data on the South African cities and townships he will visit during this project and that will also host datasets about topics on which existing public data is not otherwise available online. This website will function as a space to store the information collected to accelerate the dissertation process.

“The global opportunities and impactful trends of innovation-driven entrepreneurship in Africa are increasingly auspicious and encouraging, which simultaneously could add value towards the objectives of Chambers of Commerce throughout America and globe, said Harris, this is a unique opportunity to measure the impact of global economies in Africa, while also investigating how economic agencies influence, foster and cultivate such innovation.”

The Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) serves as a statewide economic engine with access to more than 79,000 Black-owned businesses in Michigan. The MBCC has become one of the largest and most influential chambers of commerce in the country, with chamber representation in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Southfield, and Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti. For more information, visit HYPERLINK “https://www.michiganblackchamber.com/” https://www.michiganblackchamber.com/.

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