30 year old Leti Arts CEO Eyram Tawia was actually surprised when he received an invitation to the largest gathering of American and African business leaders in history. Co-founded as an interactive media studio in 2009 by Eyram and his Kenyan partner Wesley Kirinya, Leti Arts develops mobile games and digital comics based on African history and folklore . The Ghanaian CEO had spoken at GOC in California last year, but this was no match to the magnitude and potential of the 3-day US-Africa Business Summit.
Of course it had in attendance Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton who chaired the first session on the big day. A gamut of high-leveled American delegates from the government, private sector and civil societies were also present to rub palms with African leaders. This time, Africa was not receiving hands out; it received handshakes. Africa was not receiving aid; it was wooed.
The continent was represented with pride. Sudanese billionaire and Celtel Founder Mo Ibrahim reportedly labeled American businessmen “misinformed” for being unaware of the new wave of economic opportunities in Africa. Shockingly, during a stage session, a 21-year old Zimbabwean entrepreneur also boldly challenged President Obama to review US sanctions negatively affecting entrepreneurs in his country. Even young Eyram Tawia was invited to a dinner in honour of UN Ambassador Young’s lifetime achievements.
“There, I met Presidents Clinton and Kigame, co-anchor and managing editor PBS newshour Gwen Ifil , Chair of Coca Cola Foundation Lisa M Borders, and many more,” Tawia says to enterprise54.com.
“I also interacted with Funke Opeke, CEO of Main One, Papa Yusupha Njie Exeutive Director of RLG Gambia, Mr Aliko Dangote, and Mo Ibrahim,” he adds.
The networking opportunities, for Tawia, were enormous. The young Ghanaian interacted with Togbe Afede the XIV, one of the most powerful chiefs in his home country whom he naturally wouldn’t have access to. He says, talks are ongoing about a possible app development for Bloomberg after meeting Mr Oke Okaro, Bloomberg Mobile Division President.
“I had some great interactions but wouldn’t like to make that public until it yields something,” he explains.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t have a handshake with Obama. I just stole a glance while he addressed us on stage,” he adds, smiling.
Aside the great alliances made and the unforgettable experience gained, Tawia was dissatisfied with non-interactive nature of the panel sessions. He had had interesting questions to ask Wal-Mart CEO Mr McMillon during one of the panels but there were no question and answer sessions for the audience to be included in the discussion.
“I did get my quote displayed on the screen though.”
“The IT Industry has the most potential considering the increasing number of the smart phones and rising numbers of the African middle class – Eyram Tawia,” the quote read.
“In all, I think it was a very good conference to show the other side of Africa to the world. Africa needs to move away from the traditional news of war. There is a lot more at the other side. We want new Africa. New Media and that is why Leti Arts was selected out of the 100 shortlisted African companies,” Eyram explains.
“What you do is unique and has the greatest potential. When I looked at what you did and the vision, I realised you guys were the most unique and represented Africa differently,” Bloomberg’s Mobile Division’s President Mr Okaro, said to Eyram.
In his Arise TV interview, Eyram Tawia summed up Leti’s future this way: “When Walt Disney decides to invest in Africa, what cool characters would he use? Our heroes and folklore should be ready well packaged waiting for him.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post first appeared on Enterprise54.com