Celebrating the Life of Nelson Mandela

December 10, 2013:

As the OIC International family reflects on the legacy of Nelson Mandela we are comforted by the fact that positive and transformative change can happen, particular in the lives of the most vulnerable. Nelson Mandela’s life is the perfect testimony of servant leadership. We are reminded of a proverb, “the test of a true leader, is at the end of the day, when the battle is won, the people will say, look what we have done.” Mandela’s life is the best representation of the strength of a people’s struggle for dignity, and ownership of their own destiny.

As I reflect on my time in Johannesburg, representing survivors of apartheid before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I understood then that my life would be forever focused on the lives of the most vulnerable. President Mandela served as my standard bearer for what was possible and inspires my work today with OIC International. In his own words, President Mandela said, “the ideals we cherish, our fondest dreams and fervent hopes may not be realized in our lifetime. But that is beside the point. The knowledge that in your day you did your duty, and lived up to the expectations of our fellow men is in itself a rewarding experience and magnificent achievement.”

Mandela’s decision to maintain his fight despite the great odds created the space for others to act courageously and seek justice and fairness. Our late founder Rev. Leon Sullivan, moved by the struggle for freedom and dignity traveled to South Africa as a member of the board of General Motors, during the height of apartheid and returned to the United States to organize Fortune 500 CEO’s to draft the Global Sullivan Principles of Corporate Social Responsibility.  This is just one example of the many the world family continues to share.  As we prepare to say goodbye to the physical body of Mandela, we remain empowered by his legacy and his courage and conviction is ever present in the work we do every day.

Thank you Madiba,

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Crispian Kirk
President and CEO
OIC International

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Mourning the Loss of Mandela


Today, we mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela – activist, revolutionary, president, Madiba.

Starting his life campaigning against colonial politics, Mandela was best known for his tireless efforts against apartheid.

Despite being jailed for 27 years due to activism against this devastating regime, upon his release Mandela did not seek vengeance against the individuals that had so condemned him; spearheading peaceful negotiations to abolish apartheid and establish democratic elections, Mandela oversaw an end to government-supported segregation, and the beginning of a new era for South Africa, and the entire continent.

As an organization that works extensively across the African continent, OIC International has seen the impact of Mandela’s fortitude, convictions, and actions on the millions in Africa and around the world. We send condolences to Mandela’s family and country, and join the world in mourning.

Nelson Mandela’s passing has made the world dimmer, but his legacy will give us light for decades to come.

Sincerely,

Jasmine Latalliade
Program Development Associate

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Youth Investment Summit

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This Summit taking place is Accra Ghana, May 16, 2013, explores the “how” for unlocking human potential in unemployed and underemployed youth throughout Africa. According to the World Bank 200 million people in Africa are between the ages of 15-24. The youth bulge in African countries, with over 60 percent of young people unemployed at 40 percent of the total population, the impact of this population could serve as the catalyst to revolutionize development as we now know it. This scenario has unfortunately played out recently, in Tunisia, where tragically, a young unemployed man set himself on fire in protest over his and others economic prospects—this spark led to the collapse of governments throughout North Africa, creating the contagion called “the Arab Spring”. In sub-Saharan Africa the threat is equally strong on the one hand, for unemployed youth to stray toward death and destruction, rather than harness and nurture this incredible asset as a driver of economic growth and prosperity, on the other.

But how do you get there?

The African Union adopted a youth action plan in 2011 to address high youth unemployment in Africa (AU 2011). Recommendations from the plan include stronger concentration on Technical and Vocational Education Training, also known as TVET. As a leader in human development training and TVET for over 42 years, OIC International is convening this Summit in Accra, Ghana to facilitate stakeholders’ solutions on how to harness the youth bulge as a driver for economic growth. OIC International’s, Youth Investment Summit is designed for senior-level government and private sector officials, the donor community, TVET implementers and trainers as well as entrepreneurs and investors and others interested in human potential.

Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OIC International) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since 1970, OIC International has differentiated itself by creating indigenous NGOs in developing and transitional countries. OIC International uses a sustainable, community-based affiliate model by which an “owner/operator” method is used to instill ownership, consistency and sustainability. OIC International’s locally registered affiliates embody the philosophy of self-reliance and operate with an independent local board and staff. This unique affiliate model was born out of the belief that the best way to foster economic change is through the empowerment of the local community. Today OIC International is building the capacity of communities through technical and vocational training in agriculture livelihoods, health and nutrition. OIC International is a global organization with affiliates and training centers in 19 countries.

Sponsors

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AGCO is lead sponsor for OIC International’s Youth Investment Summit:

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Contact: Rashida Petersen, (202) 499-2380 ext. 288 or rpetersen@oici.org

AGCO is lead sponsor for OIC International’s Youth Investment Summit: The Road to Economic Growth in Accra, Ghana

agco_logo_typeWASHINGTON, DC, USA (MAY 23, 2013)— AGCO was the lead sponsor at a May 16th Youth Investment Summit: The Road to Economic Recovery, in Accra, Ghana. Over 200 government and business leaders – including the Honorable Nii Armah Ashitey, Minister for Employment and Labor Relations and Social Welfare for the Government of the Republic of Ghana — as well as entrepreneurs, donors and community representatives, convened at the La Palm Royal Hotel to examine the “how” for unlocking human potential in unemployed and underemployed youth throughout Africa.

Louisa Parker, Manager of Institutional Funding and Stakeholder Relations for Africa and Middle East (AME) for AGCO, joined Crispian Kirk, President and CEO of OIC International for a panel titled “Remarks and Conversation.” In her presentation, Ms. Parker provided an overview of AGCO’s Africa Strategy and Initiatives. In her remarks, she referenced the findings of a company report that details how and why more African youth are turning to farming as a career choice. Sahra Ibrahim Malin, Strategic Assistant & Project Coordinator, Sales EAME for AGCO, also addressed the Summit, speaking at Workshop 4, “Opportunities for Ghanaian Youth in Agriculture.”  Both AGCO representatives emphasized the importance of how farm machine technology along with investing in education are the key are the key for long-term rural development.

picFarm machinery boosts efficiency and helps yield, while also relieving workers from the boredom of manual labor currently employed in many areas to cultivate the land and tend crops. This practice is highlighted in the song “Youth in Agriculture.” The catchy tune and memorable lyrics aim to convey the message that a country’s health and development more often than not depend on farming. By taking an active role in agriculture, African youth can help in the fight against hunger. The song, which was played during the Summit, was written by the MEGA Fame Foundation, an NGO based in Ghana.

Stated Crispian Kirk, “Make no mistake. The technical and vocational training of Africa’s youth will equip the private and public sectors with the skilled workforce needed to support their investments and enhance their operations. AGCO recognizes this and I want to personally thank them for being our lead sponsor for the Summit. The presentations by Louisa Parker and Sahra Ibrahim Malin were impressive and OIC International is looking forward to partnering with AGCO on similar initiatives moving forward. With out the support of AGCO, the Summit would not have been the success that it was.”

OIC International is a non-profit organization headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Since 1970, OIC International has differentiated itself by creating indigenous NGOs in developing and transitional countries. OIC International’s locally registered affiliates embody the philosophy of self-reliance and operate with an independent local board and staff. This unique affiliate model was born out of the belief that the best way to foster economic change is through the empowerment of the local community. Today OIC International is building capacity of communities through technical and vocational training in agriculture livelihoods, health and nutrition.

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OIC International Press release

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Contact: Rashida Petersen, (202) 499-2380 ext. 288 or rpetersen@oici.org

OIC International enlists support of government of Ghana for Youth Investment Summit: The road to economic growth, Accra, Ghana, May 16, 2013

photo1WASHINGON, DC, USA (MARCH 19, 2013)— Recently, Crispian Kirk, President and CEO of Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OIC International) met with His Excellency Mr. Daniel O. Agyekum, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States. The purpose of the meeting was to brief Ambassador Agyekum on OIC International’s Youth Investment Summit: The Road to Economic Growth. This one-day Summit will take place at the La-Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra, Ghana, on May 16, 2013.  Government and business leaders as well as entrepreneurs, donors and community leaders will gather to examine the “how” for unlocking human potential in unemployed and underemployed youth throughout Africa. The Summit will also focus on the importance of training and investing in Africa’s youth to help the continent strengthen its local communities and reach its economic growth goals.

OIC International has had a presence in Ghana since 1971 through affiliate OIC Ghana. Through this affiliate, OIC provides training in vocational skills and offers counseling, job-placement, and follow-up services to disadvantaged, unskilled, and unemployed Ghanaian youth. Youth constitute approximately 37 percent of the total labor force, but make up approximately 60 percent of total unemployment. Youth in Africa hold great potential as drivers for economic growth through participation in labor markets. However, a large youth population that is not gainfully employed can also be a liability, further undermining growth prospects. This Summit will be an opportunity to discuss ways to strengthen youth and community empowerment, one of the 21st century challenges confronting the continent.

Stated Crispian Kirk, “Technical and vocational training of Africa’s youth will equip the private and public sectors with the skilled workforce needed to support their investments and enhance their operations. Training today’s youth in Africa is a key strategic component of development and economic growth policy. I am looking forward to working not only with Ambassador Agyekum and the Government of Ghana to ensure a successful and productive Summit” For more information on and to register for the Youth Investment Summit: The Road to Economic Growth, visit www.oici.org

OIC International is a non-profit organization headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Since 1970, OIC International has differentiated itself by creating indigenous NGOs in developing and transitional countries. OIC International’s locally registered affiliates embody the philosophy of self-reliance and operate with an independent local board and staff. This unique affiliate model was born out of the belief that the best way to foster economic change is through the empowerment of the local community. Today OIC International is building capacity of communities through technical and vocational training in agriculture livelihoods, health and nutrition.

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Staff Announcements

OIC International is announcing staff additions and is excited to introduce two new members to our organization, Dewardric L. “D. L.” McNeal and Christina Yantis.

Dewardric L. “D.L.” McNeal joins the Executive Office of OIC International as the Director of Global Strategy and Policy.  He will be responsible for evaluating market size, competitors and industry structures, and making recommendations to senior management to assist in the development of OICI’s goals and priorities. Continue reading

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Condolences for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Washington, DC,– OIC International would like to offer our condolences to the people of Ethiopia and the family of His Excellency Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

OIC Ethiopia has been providing community-based informal skills training and employment, throughout Ethiopia, since 1973. OIC Ethiopia is nationally recognized by the Ministry of Justice and operates under the umbrella of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Ethiopia. Working in the community for so long, the OIC family has been deeply saddened by this loss. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will long be remembered for his courage and devotion to his country.

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Condolences for President Mills

Washington, DC, July 25, 2012–OIC International joins leaders and organizations from around the world in expressing our sincerest condolences on the sad occasion of the passing of His Excellency President Atta Mills.

OIC International through its affiliate OIC Ghana has been providing training in vocational skills and counseling, job-placement, to the Ghanaian people, particularly the youth since 1971. “We mourn President Mills’ passing and pray for comfort for his family and the people of Ghana” said OIC International’s President and CEO Crispian Kirk, “President Mills’ contributions to skills development and training and employment for the youth will be remembered, as one of the pinnacles not only for strong economic growth but for building the future of prosperity for Ghana.”

To the bereaved family of President Mills, we extend our heartfelt sympathies.

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OIC International Celebrates International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day, we would like to share President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s call to action for women around the world (reposted from the African Development Bank Group’s website):

Question: Madame President, you remain Africa’s first and only female president. Could you please tell the women of Africa how you manage to balance family life and the responsibilities of being president of Liberia ?

Answer: I look forward to the day when I will no longer be referred to as the first and only female president in Africa.

The women of Africa are empowering themselves and taking on leadership roles in all facets of society, and I am happy to serve as a role model and trailblazer for those who will come after me.

As for balancing family life and my responsibilities as President, let me say that by the time I became President in 2006, my sons were all grown men, pursuing successful professional careers and with families of their own.

Remember, I was seventeen when I married. Because I had my four sons when I was still very young, I was more like a big sister to them than their mother; we grew up together, playing ball, swimming, riding our bikes.

When my marriage broke up, and I was separated from them as I tried to build a career, not to mention the political upheavals in that career, there was some disconnect with my sons. But I am grateful to God that all of them came out of those times very well. I am proud and honored to be their mother and the foundation of their own success.

Question: How do you feel about being one of three women 2011 Nobel Prize Laureates? Do you believe that this can be an entry point for changing the lives of the women of Africa for the better?

Answer: Along with the announcement that I been selected as one of the three women to be awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Peace came the realization that my life was forever changed.

With such distinction comes great responsibility to work even more for women’s participation, empowerment and leadership.

Winning the Prize places me under a microscope at all times, and everything I do or say is judged within the context of the highest honour I have received for peace. Yet the burden of the Nobel Peace Prize is a welcome responsibility that strengthens my conviction and commitment to continue to advocate for human rights, for women, equal opportunity,  and for a better life for all Liberians. The Nobel Peace Prize is not a licence to speak for women; rather, it is a platform from which to speak to women, women around the globe, whatever their nationality, their color, their religion, or their station in life.

Winning the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize will not change the plight of the women of Africa, or elsewhere, but it provides a platform from which the women of Africa can find a voice to continue to denounce injustice and inequality and to pursue peace.

Question: If you have just one proposal to share with your colleagues, the Heads of State of Africa, in order to promote a sustainable gender equality process, what will be this one key action?

Answer: I would propose to my peers to increase the level of women’s participation in leadership roles and decision-making in all levels of society.

The women of Africa must be empowered to play a more prominent role in decisions that affect their lives. The gender gap looms large, continentally and globally. The world needs to be reminded again and again that where women have overcome enormous challenges and achieved political participation, their countries have advanced.

We need to redeploy energies and resources towards pursuing not only gender equity but women’s participation in decision-making to generate the desired change. At the same time, we acknowledge the positive developments in our continent, with women occupying and rising to top-level economic and political management portfolios, and demonstrating clear and formidable leadership skills.

But more needs to be done, and this would be my appeal to my fellow Heads of State and Government.

Question: And what would be your message to all women on this International Women’s Day
2012?

Answer: My message to the sisters of the world is this: determine your role, determine what your goals are, and pursue them relentlessly. Stand by the courage of your convictions.

We are different in many ways, but let us celebrate the differences with our goals in harmony. The pursuit of peace and justice, the struggle for representative democracy, human rights and social justice is a difficult journey. It requires our voices, many voices. Our shared sacrifices are essential to achieving the justice that we seek.

Question: Any particular message for the women of the African Development Bank?

Answer: My experiences from working at the World Bank, a sister development financial institution, have helped me to focus on development in Liberia, and to choose the policies and programs that might be more suitable for overall economic development in Africa.

The women of the ADB, being professionals, should utilise their time there not only to contribute, on a broad level, to development throughout the 54 African countries,  they should also use that time to hone their skills in order to contribute to their respective nation’s development.

To our sisters from the non-regional member countries, let me say that women’s contributions to the development of nations is indispensable; women constitute, in both developed and developing countries, half of the population, and can rise to leadership positions at the highest levels in any country by dint of determination.

On this International Women’s Day, I call upon the women of the AfDB, indeed the women of Africa and the world, to stand tall in our quest for equality, sustainable development, peace, justice and prosperity.

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OIC International Mourns Passing of Representative Payne

Washington, DC, March 6, 2012 – OIC International extends condolences to the family of U.S. Representative Donald Payne.

Representative Payne served for over two decades in the United States Congress. He showed exemplary representation of the 10th Congressional District of New Jersey and the entire country to the global community. OIC International and all International NGOs based in the United States owe Representative Payne a great deal of gratitude for his leadership in international affairs on the Hill. His interest and work promoting human rights, access to healthcare and education for individuals all over the world was truly visionary. In particularly, Representative Payne’s commitment to economic development, peace and prosperity in the nations of Africa set the stage for the investment of over $100 million dollars for health-related initiatives such as malaria prevention and the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

“We mourn Representative Payne’s passing and pray for comfort for his family and loved ones. Representative Payne set an example for all of us by using his God-given intelligence, experience, and passion to serve others” said OIC International’s President and CEO Crispian Kirk, “in our work to empower individuals and enhance communities through economic development, we will remember Representative Payne and his legacy of standing up for those suffering from poverty and oppression.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Representative Payne’s family.

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