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The Vice President of Special Projects for the National Black Chamber of Commerce, NBCC, is Co-Chair of the Economic Opportunity Committee for the US Colombia Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality, CAPREE.
By Alejandro Maldonado for Fundación Color de Colombia
Charles H. DeBow, III is the Vice President of Special Projects for the National Black Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization founded in 1993. He spoke to us about the organization and its relations to Colombia in the following interview.
¿What is your role within the NBCC?
The NBCC continues to evolve as a global organization. Over the past 10 years we have made many new relationships with partnerships and affiliates around the world. Founded chambers in Paris, Suriname, Colombia, and affiliations with 35 countries in Africa.
My responsibility has become to act as a liaison to all the chamber and affiliate organizations around the world. Colombia has taken the front position in our global initiatives.
My other responsibilities include direction of internet policies and initiatives, oversee the development of our online network, and develop e-commerce initiatives. I represent the NBCC on various governmental and nongovernmental committees.
I also have co-directed NBCC trade missions to Brazil, Cuba, Ghana, Kenya, Costa Rica, Bahamas, and Jamaica. We are planning meetings in Colombia this year as well.
¿How large is the organization? What is your purpose?
We have over 140 affiliated chapters across the United States and international affiliate chapters in the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, France Botswana, Cameroon, and Jamaica.
We reach 100,000 Black-owned businesses. Our goal is to economically empower and sustain African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States. We do this by increasing business development and growth via procurement, capital access, and international trade.
¿What plans does the NBCC have for Colombia?
Colombia is the apex for a period of exponential growth and economic development. With the prospect of real peace the stage is being set for the country to emerge further as a global leader in many sectors.
The NBCC has been in discussions with leaders of the private sector to help businesses gain the resources to build and have more participation in the economic boom about to occur.
I serve as the Co-Chair of the Economic Opportunity Committee for the US Colombia Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality (CAPREE). It is a US / Colombia initiative of the US State Department and Colombia Government. It is still struggling to get going on the Colombia side.
It is made up of what is known as civil society. People representing many aspects of society. I represent the Economic Opportunity. It focuses on the creation of jobs from business development from the smallest to the largest companies working with American companies and our global partners to partner, joint venture, mentor, and train Colombians interested in expanding their business or simply becoming game-fully employed.
The beginning of activities will start with the USAID Grant to IOM (International Organization for Migration) to begin some of the programs. I anticipate being in Colombia to meet perspective program participants this summer. I am excited to get started.
¿How did the organization come to be?
In January 1989 Harry C. Alford Jr. starts heading the Minority Business Development Office for the State of Indiana at the request of Governor Evan Bayh. After historically raising participation from 1% to 6% and dealing with the public backlash from his impactful actions, he went on to appeal to the Black Caucus and the Businessmen for Good Government to form a bipartisan coalition and thus they come together in 1993 as the National Black Chamber of Commerce.
¿Who can join the NBCC?
Anyone interested in the organization can apply for membership. It may be done individually, as a Member Chapter, business, Student Chapter or a major corporation. See www.nationalbcc.org for more details.