On March 9th, at the request of the Delegate General Mr. Inza Camera, Denise Thomas from the World Trade Center Arkansas made a reverse trade mission to Abidjan, the capital city of Cote d’Ivoire. The trip was a result from the November 2014 signing of a MOU between Arkansas and Cote d’Ivoire. During her week-long stay, Denise attended meetings with Abidjan Chambers, the Director General of SIAM Services Ms. Bintou Bakayoko, Universite Nord Sud and Institut Famah, the Administration of Modernization, and the General Director of Commerce Crafts. At the request of Mr. Camera, the Director of Communications, Mr. Mamadoue Kone, accompanied Denise to the meetings for translation and briefing before and after each meeting.
African businesses and universities in Cote d’Ivoire are looking to partner with Arkansas businesses and universities to expand production and breadth of exposure and sales. Contrary to common belief, American business ventures in Africa can be very advantageous, and Cote d’Ivoire has much to offer Arkansas companies. Primarily, they are looking for a packaging processing company that would partner with them to sell and export goods such as coconut, coffee, poultry, and shea butter products, to name a few. While some businesses are solely looking for a packaging company, others are hoping to establish lasting educational and mentoring relationships, with the businesses and students in local universities. Universities, such as Universite Nord Sud and Institut Famah, are looking to launch an exchange program with Arkansas schools in several areas of study. Upon creation of such a program, participating students would have limitless opportunities to experience cultural differences in business and everyday life – an asset becoming more desirable with the prominence of globalization in business. Arkansas business and universities seeking international contacts and trade partnerships will find a surplus of opportunities and willing partners in Cote d’Ivoire.