PORTLAND, Ore. -- A group of women entrepreneurs from Africa is in Oregon to learn about how to run a business.
On Monday, they heard from business legend and whole grains guru Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill. He told the group that the most important quality to running a successful business is tenacity.
“Persistance is so important when you are getting a business going,” said Moore. “You have to be able to recover from bad things happening, because they will.”
The group from Africa is here as part of an international exchange program run by the State Department and local partners. The World Affairs Council of Oregon is helping with the Portland phase of the trip. The group has already visited Chicago and will stop in Kansas City and Washington, D.C.
Sylvie Dessande is from Bangui, the capitol of the Central African Republic. She runs a startup company, with 23 employees, that harvests rubber trees for use in manufacturing latex. Through an interpreter, Dessande praised Portland and its residents.
“You can see right away that the people here have a deep connection with nature and health, and you can see the result of that in how they do business here,” she said.
The group visited farmer’s markets over the weekend, and will be very busy the rest of the week. They will visit a women-owned cranberry farm, New Seasons market, the Small Business Development Center at Portland Community College, and an organic farm in Marion County. And that’s just a partial list.
The group came to the United States as part of the International Visiting Leadership Program. The decades-old program has built relationships with emerging leaders from countries all over the world. The program’s list of alumni is impressive: former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Nelson Mandela, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (and current P.M. Theresa May), former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and many others. Many diplomats have praised the program as an extremely effective tool in creating international understanding between the U.S. and other countries.