The world’s two largest cocoa producers want you to buy their chocolate, not just their beans (Quartz)

I care about many things, but chief among them are food and all things Africa. With that, I share my first piece for Quartz Africa on Ghana and Ivory Coast's growing local chocolate industries.

Image courtesy of Midunu Chocolates

Image courtesy of Midunu Chocolates

In a bid to meet the budget shortfall of their struggling economies, Ivory Coast and Ghana have accelerated efforts to support local grinders and producers of finished producers. Instead of selling raw materials for export, both countries now hope to make their chocolate just as iconic as their cocoa. New policies and initiatives aimed at local entrepreneurs may help them move up the value chain.

A few of the Ghanaian and Ivorian chocolatiers mentioned in this piece: Instant Chocolat, Midunu Chocolates, and '57 Chocolate. If you find yourself in Abidjan or Accra, be sure to check them out and let me know what you think.

Image courtesy of '57 Chocolate

Image courtesy of '57 Chocolate

 

 

Why American Sikhs Think They Need A Publicity Campaign (NPR)

I wrote this piece for National Public Radio (NPR) on the National Sikh Coalition's new campaign, "We Are Sikhs." 

"Nearly 60 percent of Americans admit knowing nothing at all about Sikhs. That lack of knowledge comes at a deadly cost. In the wake of recent incidents from the 2012 Oak Creek Massacre to a shooting of a Sikh man in Washington this March, the Sikh community is taking a more vocal stand against hate.

This month, the National Sikh Campaign, an advocacy group led by former political strategists, launched a $1.3 million awareness campaign, "We are Sikhs." Funded entirely by grass-roots donations, the campaign's ads will air nationally on CNN and Fox News as well as on TV channels in central California — home to nearly 50 percent of the Sikh American population — and online."

You can find the full piece here on NPR's website.

Black-Jewish Relations Intensified And Tested By Current Political Climate (NPR)

I wrote this piece for National Public Radio (NPR) on how black and Jewish are working together with renewed vigor as both groups face racist and religious discrimination in today's fraught political climate.

"With hate crimes on the rise, old coalitions between blacks and Jews are being rekindled and tested. According to a recent survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), 57 percent of Jews support Black Lives Matter, the second highest percentage of any faith group following Muslims. Although blacks and Jews worked closely to advance social justice during the Civil Rights Movement, the strong ties between the two groups have waned since the end of Jim Crow.

But the election of President Trump has contributed to a marked increase in hate crimes, while racist and anti-Semitic attacks had already been on the rise for years."

You can find the full piece here on NPR's website.

Afropreneurs: This Startup Is Helping Millennials Find Hassle-Free Apartment Rentals

OkayAfrica's theme for April is "Hustle." My latest piece for their Afropreneurs series is a profile of Ofo Ezeugwu, co-founder and CEO of Whose Your Landlord. You can find it via the OkayAfrica website and preview a short excerpt below:

For most students and young professionals, first apartments are a painful rite of passage. The lessons often start after the first week: a sputtering air conditioner or the sinking realization that mice are noisy roommates. While not all landlords are exploitative, the fierce competition for housing in America’s largest cities puts young tenants at a disadvantage.
Read more here

Afropreneurs: How These Coworking Spaces Navigate Ghana’s Startup Ecosystem

OkayAfrica's theme for April is "Hustle." My latest piece for their Afropreneurs series takes a look at the people who hustle to help grow Ghana's start-up ecosystem. You can find it via the Okayafrica website, and preview a short excerpt below. 

Co-working, a trend pioneered by companies like WeWork, is a trend common in major American cities in New York or San Francisco. Across Africa it remains a new concept. However, as investment across the continent picks up steam, more startups are taking advantages of collaborative workplaces. According to data firm Social Workplaces, in 2013, there were only 24 coworking spaces across the continent. By 2015, the number grew up to 250. In Accra, there are over five today. They range from collaborative workspaces like Workshed to more full-fledged hubs and incubators with an even more expansive range of services.

Co-working, a trend pioneered by companies like WeWork, is a trend common in major American cities in New York or San Francisco. Across Africa it remains a new concept. However, as investment across the continent picks up steam, more startups are taking advantages of collaborative workplaces. According to data firm Social Workplaces, in 2013, there were only 24 coworking spaces across the continent. By 2015, the number grew up to 250. In Accra, there are over five today. They range from collaborative workspaces like Workshed to more full-fledged hubs and incubators with an even more expansive range of services.