"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