Michael Tahiru ’22 portrait

In addition to starting the Lehigh Africa Business Club, Michael Tahiru ’22 began a venture capital company in his home country of Ghana, which conducts business throughout the African continent.

 

Lehigh Soccer’s Michael Tahiru ’22 Starts Club to Discuss Business in Africa

Michael Tahiru ’22 created the club, which will hold its second annual conference in April.

Photography by

Christa Neu

The COVID-19 pandemic shined light on the importance of people from different places and backgrounds working together to solve problems. For Michael Tahiru ’22, it created an opportunity to form a club that did just that.

In his first year at Lehigh, Tahiru dreamed of starting a club geared toward creating opportunities to give back and improve development on his native African continent. When the pandemic struck and most were forced to press pause on their daily lives, Tahiru, a member of Lehigh’s men’s soccer team, felt the timing was perfect. He founded and became president of the Lehigh Africa Business Club.

"As an athlete, you get the opportunity to incorporate yourself into the campus community quite easily," says Tahiru. "However, for the normal African student on campus, it can be difficult to make friends from different parts of the world, so I was thinking about a platform that could enrich the experience of Africans on campus and non-Africans as well, to learn about each other and learn about business on the African continent and around the world."

An Africana Studies class helped Tahiru begin thinking about the club, but he specifically wanted to incorporate business in Africa into Lehigh’s College of Business. Business and economics, he says, are good ways to bring people together.

Michael Tahiru ’22 playing soccer

In addition to playing for Lehigh's soccer team, Michael Tahiru ’22 founded the Lehigh Africa Business Club, which he says has essentially turned into a full-time job. (Hannahally Photography)

"Business is a language that everyone understands, regardless of your background, race or ethnicity,” Tahiru says.

Now with more than 50 members, and events open to all, the club meets once a month in a hybrid format. They host a speaker series and organize fireside chats with business leaders where they discuss everything from technology to the supply chain.

"We bring people and companies on board, who can provide internships for students,” says Tahiru. “We also bring leaders who talk about policy all over the world. So all these leaders from Africa, America and Europe are able to engage each other, compare their ideas, connect with each other and create networking opportunities. Students can use that platform to also gain some ideas, ask questions and build their networks."

Tahiru is hoping their main event, the Lehigh Africa Business Club Annual Conference, grows to become one of the first conferences people think about in America and world-renowned. This year’s conference, the club’s second annual, will be April 23 at the Zoellner Arts Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is also a virtual option for those who wish to attend via Zoom. The conference will host business leaders and professionals from around the world, who will discuss “Africa Forward: Building Global Alliances for a Sustainable Future.” It will also feature panels on the economy, innovation and health.

In partnership with the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation and companies around the world, the club is also starting a venture competition, which Tahiru says is bringing numerous institutional and individual investors on board.

"This new competition will give entrepreneurs from the African continent and companies (from early-stage startup to medium-sized businesses), the opportunity to pitch their ideas through a year-round process.”

The club has essentially turned into a full-time job as Tahiru says he has been traveling to Africa and working with business leaders and governments across the continent. Separately, he has started a business, a venture capital company conducting business throughout the African continent, in his home country of Ghana.

Tahiru’s work ethic—and success—does not come as a surprise to Lehigh’s men’s soccer coach Dean Koski. With the way Tahiru spoke and carried himself during a recruiting visit to Lehigh, Koski believed that the finance major would also make an impact in the campus community.

"I had no idea how or when,” Koski says. “I just knew he had some special qualities that would exceed what he was capable of achieving on the soccer field."

One of the more memorable moments for Koski was when Tahiru introduced him to the Rear Admiral for the Ghanian Navy. Koski was impressed, to say the least.

“Of course, Michael just smiled humbly,” Koski says. “In a nutshell, that's who Michael is—a humble leader, an entrepreneur, a teammate and someone who has the ability to change his community and his nation. … I continue to be amazed, impressed and in awe of his ability to connect with so many different business leaders in the U.S. and Africa."

Tahiru’s focus isn’t on himself though. He says it’s all about helping others.

"I've grown in knowing that success in life is not just about myself, but also giving back to other people. In this case, creating a platform where people can learn about Africa, get internships [and more],” Tahiru says. "Impacting other people's lives has been a really, really transcendent experience."

Story by Justin Lafleur

The Lehigh Africa Business Club Annual Conference
Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Zoellner Arts Center/Zoom

There is no cost to attend the conference, but advance registration required. In-person seating is limited. Livestreaming will be available. Register at go.lehigh.edu/labc2022. For those who wish to attend virtually, a Zoom link will be provided at registration.

The conference program includes panels on economy and private equity, Innovation and healthcare. Speakers include: 

Dr. Alfred Braimah, auditor-general of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Dr. Blessing Mudavanhu, CEO of CBZ Holdings Group 

Dr. Dennis Ouma, COO of Cello Capital Management 

Thomas Bonos, Chief Revenue Officer & COO of Applause 

Dr. Joe Atta-Mensah, Principal Policy Adviser, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Bryon Rubin, CFO & COO of CBS Entertainment Group 

Mrs. Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, Founder of LEAP Africa, co-founder of ACCE FOODS, and director of Sahel Capital 

Michael Miller, Co-Founder, US - Africa Opportunity Network 

Carlo Kobe, Co-Founder & CEO of Fizz 

Randall Tinfow, managing director of REACHUM & CLICKCHAINZ 

Dr. Michael Obeng, president of Global Health Solutions , director of MIKO Plastic Surgery & MIKO Surgery Center 

Dr. Christine Martey-Ocholla, co-founder of Sub-Saharan Africa Chamber of Commerce

Leon D. Caldwell, senior director of health equity strategy and innovations at American Health Association 

Dan Donovan, Founder & CEO, rareLife Solutions

Photography by

Christa Neu

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