Muriel Cooper & Jada Irwin
A fair in Accra selling local, organic sustainably grown produce is proving a hit among the growing middle class.
There are some things about public gatherings in Ghana‘s capital Accra that are guaranteed. A certain amount of dust and Atlantic spray on the breeze, a sound system blaring Azonto – a local music sensation – just a bit too loud, fearless children lining up to show off their moves, and an orderly row of canopies where the hot and the tired sit down on plastic chairs and take stock.
But if you looked a little closer at the fair in Ako Adjei park on Saturday, you would have found that what appeared a typical Accra event was quietly masking something quite unusual: a farmers’ market. The dozen or so small-scale producers selling their wares at The Accra Green Marketwere busily making history as participants in Ghana’s first ever fair for locally grown, sustainable, organic produce. “This is a great way to give exposure to organic, local products,” says Jeffrey Mouganie, 22, founder of Moco Foods, an organic company that produces local forest honey and fiery chilli sauce, guaranteeing a traceable supply chain and hiring workers with disabilities. “The only space we usually get to market our products are at the bazaars of international schools, where we sell to a lot of expats,” he says. “But we need more markets like this – the best feedback we have had for our products is from Ghanaians.”
Moco’s Savannah Honey, on sale here for 10 Ghana cedis – approximately £3 – is being exported to the UK where it will go on sale at Harrods and Selfridges for what the producers expect to be around five times that price. Also on sale, organic mushroom wine – said to be a treatment for practically every medical condition from sclerosis to high blood pressure, asthma and “sexual weakness” – pak choi, gloriously frothy-leaved heads of broccoli, watermelon, small, knobbly carrots, and tough-skinned, tangy nectarines full of seeds and sweet-sour juice.
The organisers of the market believe they are part of a new trend towards sustainable, organic and local food, which they say goes hand in hand with the growth of Ghana’s new middle class. “Things in Ghana are changing – it is no longer a poor country but a middle-income country. And because of that, people are more interested in what they eat,” says Edison Gbenga Abe, 29, founder of Agripro – a mobile application company that provides farmers with access to marketplaces and which organised the Accra Green Market. “In East Africa, farmers’ markets are already really popular, but in West Africa, there is nothing like this. We plan to take it to different locations in Ghana, and we have had interest from Nigeria too.”
Constance Korkoi Tengey, founder of Immaculate Gold Beads, Mushrooms and Snails, is typical of the kind of small-scale grower whose products the market is designed to showcase. An energetic 62-year-old who carefully dishes out mushroom sandwiches, mushroom salad and mushroom gari foto – a veggie version of a popular Ghanaian dish made from cassava tubers – Tengey began growing mushrooms in her back garden seven years ago and says sales are on the rise. “I eat a lot of mushrooms as a substitute for meat, and I’ve noticed that I don’t gain as much weight, and it keeps me looking younger,” Tengey says. “People in Ghana are becoming more health-conscious these days, they are really showing an interest in my products. It’s a profitable business for me.”
But it’s not only shoppers who are fuelling Ghana’s new interest in organic food. The city’s ever expanding directory of hotels, restaurants and cafes has an insatiable appetite for local products and high quality produce. “There are a lot of new eateries bringing in foreign chefs, and as a result the quality is getting higher,” says Sadiq Banda, an organic grower in Accra who supplies some of the city’s five-star hotels. “Chefs are always looking for the best produce, and there is a great need for more local food producers to supply them. The Ghanaian middle class is growing too, and becoming more interested in quality. But Ghanaians are still mainly interested in conspicuous consumption – they do not tend to spend money on hig-quality things unless other people can see them doing it, and fresh produce is not yet a priority.”
Ghana may still have some way to go in grasping the concept of organic, whole foods. Alongside the organic avocados on one stall were tins of corned beef, canned sardines and mayonnaise, where young women were zealously composing “salad” – a concoction of oily, processed products with a dash of fresh vegetable to top it off.
And Ghana being Ghana, there is a strong affection for the deep-fried. My taste award went to Tengey’s “Kentucky Fried Mushrooms” – not blessed with a name that conjures up all things fresh, small-scale and local, but they tasted quite simply amazing.
By Felicia Vance
The next time you reach out to shake someone’s hand, consider this finding: A recent study of hand-washing habits found only 5 percent of people who used the restroom scrubbed long enough to kill germs that can cause infections.
Thirty-three percent didn’t use soap, and 10 percent didn’t wash their hands at all, according to the study, based on Michigan State University researchers’ observations of more than 3,700 people in a college town’s public restrooms.
“These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate,” lead investigator Carl Borchgrevink, an associate professor of hospitality business, said in a university news release.
Among the other findings:
- Men were less likely than women to clean their hands. Fifteen percent of men and 7 percent of women didn’t wash their hands at all. When they did wash their hands, only 50 percent of men used soap, compared with 78 percent of women.
- People were less likely to wash their hands if the sink was dirty.
- People were more likely to wash their hands earlier in the day. This may be because when people are out at night for a meal or drinks, they are relaxed and hand washing becomes less important, the researchers suggested.
- People were more likely to wash their hands if they saw a sign encouraging them to do so.
Hand washing is the single most effective thing a person can do to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Failure to sufficiently wash hands contributes to nearly 50 percent of all foodborne illness outbreaks, the agency says.
It takes 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water to effectively kill germs, the CDC says, but people only wash their hands for an average of about 6 seconds, according to the study, published recently in the Journal of Environmental Health.
The findings have implications for consumers and restaurant and hotel owners.
by Derek T. Dingle
When Starbucks decided to continue its global expansion by opening 1,500 coffee shops in China, CEO Howard Schultz consulted Ariel Investments L.L.C. President Mellody Hobson and former PepsiCo executive Olden Lee, along with its other nine board members. As CBS Corp. locked horns with Time Warner Cable over broadcast fees, retired senior executive Bruce Gordon was among the corporate directors briefed by top management. Verizon Communications’ proposed acquisition of Canadian telecoms requires input from board members such as Darden Restaurants CEO Clarence Otis Jr.
Hobson, Lee, Gordon, and Otis represent the business elite responsible for oversight of some of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies. These corporate directors are charged with the fiduciary responsibility to increase shareholder value by making decisions—from acquisitions and divestitures to executive compensation and layoffs—that will maximize earnings, dividends, and the stock price. As such, these corporate watchdogs ensure the continued viability of American industry, including trillions in assets and millions of managers, employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
These days, corporations that don’t have black directors on their boards are operating in the Stone Age of business. Shifting demographics and the burgeoning black consumer and business markets mean corporations cannot afford to be governed without the presence of African Americans in their boardrooms. “There are a lot of gifted, diverse directors who have been shut out over the years,” asserts John W. Rogers, Jr., chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments L.L.C. (No. 7 on the BE ASSET MANAGERS list with $4.9 billion in assets under management), who joined forces with Hobson and Charles Tribbett III, a senior partner with executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, 11 years ago to create the Black Corporate Directors Conference. “If you have diverse perspectives and diverse points of view, you’re going to get better decisions made. If you have better decision making, it will ultimately increase the value of the common stock.”
We created our exclusive BLACK ENTERPRISE Registry of Corporate Directors to place a spotlight on those making contributions as some of the nation’s most powerful guardians of shareholder value. Our roster represents 177 board members from a universe of the 250 largest companies on the S&P 500 based on market capitalization as of June 14. Spending several months reviewing proxy statements and annual reports as well as contacting investor relations departments, corporate governance experts, and professional organizations such as the Black Corporate Directors Conference and Executive Leadership Council, a network of the nation’s most powerful African American execs, our editorial research team found that roughly 30% of the S&P 250 do not have a single black board member.
Read the rest of this story on BlackEnterprise.com
by Todd Johnson
It was only a matter of time before Gabby Douglas‘ incredible story was made into a movie.
Lifetime has decided to greenlight the Olympic gold medalist’s incredible career into a TV biopic.
Deadline.com reports that actresses Imani Hakim and Sydney Mikayla have been cast to portray Douglas in her early and teen years. Veteran actresses Regina King and S. Epatha Merkeson will play Gabby’s mother and grandmother, respectively.
TheGrio’s 100 | Gabby Douglas, gold medalist with an Olympic-sized smile (VIDEO)
At the 2012 Olympics in London, Douglas became the first African-American gymnast to capture the individual all-around gold medal and the first American to take gold in both the individual and team competitions. Now 17, Douglas recently told USA TODAY Sports’ Kelly Whiteside she is getting “back to the grind” in the gym in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Her ‘grind’ however, will be without the coach who helped guide her to gold in London – Liang Chow. Douglas decided she was moving to Los Angeles to be with her family and to cut ties with Chow’s gym in Iowa where she had been both living and training.
Since the London Games, Douglas’ popularity has soared. She’s written two books and appeared on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, alongside first lady Michelle Obama.
TheGrio | Gabby Douglas, ready for Rio Games (VIDEO)
The Associated Press named her its female athlete of the year in 2012. She has been a fixture on red carpets at awards shows, courtside at the NBA All-Star Game and even made a cameo on “Vampire Diaries.”
A now-iconic image emerged from the Washington Navy Yard shooting Monday: A civilian helping a blind colleague exit the building to safety.
As bullets flew, civilian employee Omar Grant took his unidentified co-worker’s arm and led him out of the building. A photo capturing the moment was posted by Yahoo! News reporter Chris Moody on Twitter.
“As soon as we got outside the cafeteria doors into the hallway, we saw people panicked, running for the exits,” Grant told TODAY’s Carson Daly in an Orange Room phone interview Tuesday. “They were shouting. I couldn’t make out exactly what they were shouting, but I knew it was something serious. I told my colleague there that we were going to get out of the building, and I was going to help him because normally he’s got somebody with him there, and this morning he was all by himself.”
Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old civilian contractor, is suspected of killing 12 people before he was shot dead by police.
Grant, an IT technician who works in network support at the Navy Yard, described the scene as civilians and military first heard the gunfire.
“I heard the first two shots while I was in the atrium near the cafeteria where I saw my blind colleague also,” Grant said. “After we heard the first two shots, we were wondering where the noise came from because sound echoes and travels there in an atrium area. You go up from the first floor of the building all the way up to the fifth floor. I proceeded to take his arm and led him into the cafeteria, and people started wondering as they also heard gunshots.
“We heard three more shots while we were inside the cafeteria and then we saw the alarms go off to evacuate the building.”
U.S. Navy Commander Tim Jirus was warned about the danger by a stranger.
“He came up behind us and was talking to me, basically saying, ‘Hey, there’s a shooter in your building,’’’ Jirus told TODAY. “Then I heard two more shots, one of them hit him, he went down in front of me, and then I took off from there.”
Alexis was an employee of “The Experts,” a subcontractor to a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy/Marine Corps intranet network, according to Hewlett-Packard spokesperson Michael Thacker.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard,” Hewlett-Packard said in a statement. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those who have been affected. Aaron Alexis was an employee of a company called ‘The Experts,’ a subcontractor to an HP Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) network. HP is cooperating fully with law enforcement as requested.”
Alexis had been suffering from paranoia, sleep disorder and hearing voices in his head, U.S. law enforcement officials told the Associated Press. He had been receiving treatment for his issues by the Veterans Administration since August, officials said on condition of anonymity.
In 2004, Alexis was arrested for allegedly shooting at a vehicle in a “black-out fueled by anger,” according to court records. His father told police that Alexis had “anger management problems” and was stressed from being “an active participant in rescue attempts of September 11th, 2001,” according to the arrest report.
Milwaukee-based private equity fund Generation Growth Capital, Inc. (“GGC”), announced today the sale of Martell Construction, Inc. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Based in Green Bay, WI, Martell is a construction services company specializing in sidewalks, curb and gutter, and concrete pavement. The company acts primarily as a subcontractor on larger projects and is highly regarded as the premier concrete construction business in its core markets, including the Fox Valley, northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan with customers in commercial, municipal, residential, industrial, heavy highway and marine segments.
“We are very pleased with our investment in Martell and wish the ownership group continued success in taking the company to the next level,” said Cory Nettles, Managing Director of GGC.
GGC invested in Martell in December 2008. During GGC’s ownership, Martell maintained solid margins and steady growth in a difficult construction economy. The transaction realized an approximate two times cash on cash return, and an IRR in excess of 20% over a nearly five-year period.
“GGC was a great partner that helped us establish operational and financial systems that allowed us to better manage the business,” said Mike Carney, former President of Martell. “GGC’s approach to investing for growth worked out well for the company.”
“GGC took a good company and made it much better. We look forward to growing the business and creating more good-paying jobs in our community,” said Brian Begotka, VP/Treasurer at Martell.
GGC is a Milwaukee-based private equity firm that invests in lower middle market companies. It also has an office in Chicago, IL. GGC does growth and buyout investments in control and non-control situations. GGC focuses on companies with sales in the $5mm to $50mm range and enterprise values under $30mm. For more information, please visit www.generationgrowth.com or call 414-291-8908.
MILWAUKEE (September 17, 2013) — More MPS schools are meeting or exceeding expectations on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s school report cards, showing more students are on a path to college and career success.
Thirty-four MPS schools are rated meets expectations, exceeds expectations or significantly exceeds expectations in the second year of DPI report cards, up from 29 schools in the first year. Those 34 schools served about 18,000 students in 2012-13 and are a mix of neighborhood, specialty and charter schools spanning grades K-12. The 34 schools and their ratings are:
Significantly Exceeds Expectations: Fernwood Montessori School
Exceeds Expectations: Academia de Lenguaje y Bellas Artes (ALBA), Honey Creek Continuous Progress Charter School, Milwaukee German Immersion School, Golda Meir School and Walt Whitman Elementary School
Meets Expectations: Academy of Accelerated Learning (AAL), Louisa May Alcott School, Luther Burbank School, A.E. Burdick School, Clement Avenue School, James Fennimore Cooper School, Craig Montessori School, Jeremiah Curtin Leadership Academy, Dover School (now part of Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts), Escuela Fratney, Greenfield Bilingual School, Hawley Environmental School, Hmong American Peace Academy (HAPA), Fairview School, Humboldt Park School, I.D.E.A.L. School, International Peace Academy (IPA – Now part of HAPA), Rufus King International School, Lowell Elementary School, Maryland Avenue Montessori School, Milwaukee French Immersion School, Milwaukee Spanish Immersion School, Morgandale School, Parkview Elementary School, Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School, Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities (now part of Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts), Escuela Vieau and Whittier Elementary School.
At the same time, fewer MPS schools are rated by the state as failing to meet expectations with that number dropping to 49 this year, down from 60 last year. However, Milwaukee Public Schools’ overall district report card shows that much more work remains to be done.
As a district, MPS is rated as not meeting expectations, which reflects the challenges that remain as well as the opportunities to improve academic achievement in Milwaukee Public Schools. The district has seen slight growth in reading and math achievement across all student groups over the last five years, which, in a district as large as MPS, represents a large number of students achieving at higher levels. MPS has also seen a decrease in suspensions, more schools recognized for successfully reinforcing positive behavior through Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports; and more schools recognized by the state as Wisconsin Schools of Recognition.
In addition, the district is seeing improvement in critical areas that are not reflected in the current DPI report cards because the report cards are based upon older data. For example, the district has continued to see growth in student attendance through the 2012-13 school year. The most recent attendance data on the report cards dates back to 2011-12.
“We are committed to sharpening our focus on the work that remains, learning from our successes, continuing to implement innovative reforms and seeking additional opportunities to put all students on the path to college and career success,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said.
Many district efforts are aimed precisely at the critical measures evaluated on the report card, including college- and career-readiness programs aimed at boosting academic achievement, graduation rates and closing achievement gaps; and other efforts to improve attendance rates.
Key MPS initiatives for 2013-14 include:
– The launch of the College Board’s SpringBoard pre-Advanced Placement program in seven MPS schools: Audubon Technology and Communication Center Middle School, Bay View Middle and High School, Humboldt Park School, Golda Meir School, Milwaukee School of Languages, Morse•Marshall School for the Gifted and Talented and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning.
– Expansion of the rigorous Project Lead the Way hands-on science/technology/engineering/math curriculum into three additional schools for a total of 34 MPS schools
– Exploration of additional International Baccalaureate schools following the lead of MPS’ Rufus King International School – High School Campus and Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School, which were named the two best high schools in the Milwaukee region in 2013 by the Washington Post
– Expanded use of the Standards-Based Report Card in K-5 and K-8 schools, which helps staff, parents and students clearly identify Common Core learning expectations in each subject, and notes where students are succeeding and where assistance is needed
– Doubling the allocation of art, music and physical education specialists to district elementary schools
Those new efforts compliment ongoing reforms continuing to show promise including MPS’ Comprehensive Literacy Plan and Comprehensive Math/Sciecne Plan, both of which are aligned to the rigorous Common Core State Standards; increasing college- and career-readiness efforts, including programming at MPS’ TeamUp College Access Centers which offer assistance in putting students on track for post-secondary success; the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program to reinforce positive behavior and improve school climate; and providing services and resources for parents at three District Parent Resource Centers located at North Division, South Division and Washington high schools.
This news is available online at http://www5.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/dept/superintendent/2013/09/more-mps-schools-meeting-exceeding-expectations/.
About Milwaukee Public Schools Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin’s largest school district, is expanding college and career readiness efforts and continuing to implement innovative reforms that give every student the opportunity to succeed. MPS’ high-quality school options for 3-year-olds to high school seniors feature school climates in which positive behavior is reinforced; certified, highly-trained teachers; 21st-century learning technology for students; and curriculum aligned to the rigorous Common Core State Standards, which set a clear, high bar for the topics students must master at each grade level. MPS’ graduation rate is 14 points higher than the rate for the Class of 2000, its Class of 2013 earned $24 million in scholarships and the district is home to some of the state’s best high schools according to the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report. More MPS news is available at http://mpsmke.com/news.
The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, a member of the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC), is pleased to announce that EILEEN FISHER, a brand synonymous with beautifully simple clothes, is partnering with specialty stores across the United States for its third Shop Local event Thursday, September 26, through Saturday, September 28. The three-day event, in conjunction with the shop local movement, aims to support the small business owners who supported designer Eileen Fisher from her company’s early days. In keeping with Fisher’s philosophy of giving back, EILEEN FISHER is also partnering with the AWBC as the brand’s 2013 Shop Local donation recipient and is generously donating a portion of the days’ proceeds to the AWBC, a national non-profit organization that represents women business owners through a network of over 100 women business centers in the United States. The AWBC’s mission is to develop and strengthen a network of women’s business centers to advance the growth and success of women’s business owners.
Designer Eileen Fisher is grateful for the independent business owners who carry her collections. “Specialty store buyers helped me get my start. They answered my questions when it came to styles,
colors and even how to price garments,” says Fisher. “I see specialty stores as valuable members of the EILEEN FISHER family and I am proud that they are creating community by engaging with customers in
their towns through our Shop Local event.”
by Pamela McClintock
The independent historical drama — headlining Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey— took in $5.4 million in its fifth weekend for The Weinstein Co., pushing the movie’s North American total to a stellar $100 million.
Daniels becomes one of only a handful of black directors to have a film clear that mark, not accounting for inflation.
One reason for The Butler‘s success is that it is playing to all audiences, according to Harvey Weinstein‘s team. On opening weekend, 52 percent of ticket buyers were black; now, 67 percent of the audience is white. The Butler is also becoming a family play.
The Butler opened in mid-August, hoping to mirror the success of The Help, another civil-rights themed drama. The Butler isn’t likely to match The Help‘s lifetime domestic gross of $169.7 million, but The Help was different in featuring both black and white lead actors.
In the film, Whitaker plays a White House butler who serves through eight presidential administrations, a character inspired by the real-life story of the late Eugene Allen.
Winfrey, who plays the butler’s wife, has provided an enormous marketing boost for the movie because of her avid fanbase. The Butler already is considered an awards contender, particularly for Whitaker and Winfrey’s performances.