2019 Commerce Magazine Book_Cmmrc_PROOF1 - Page 7

GLOBAL INFLUENCE STOKES BROKER ASSOCIATE, GRI, CRS Partnerships Around the World The Stillwater Chamber of Commerce hosted 25 of Africa’s brightest business and entrepreneurship leaders on June 27. A s a fl agship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which began in 2014, is designed to empower young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa through academic coursework and leadership 405.612.0016 connie@teamstillwater.com WWW . TEAMSTILLWATER . COM edge on networking and building an entrepreneurial community. Chamber President and CEO Justin Minges led the session with “We’d love to share any technology and ideas we can with you,” Koemel told the Fellows. “We’re always looking to make connections in Africa, insight on how to make connections and form a network regardless and that’s not always easy to do, so we’re glad you’re here.” of where one lives. Koemel discussed his work with the Stillwater Frontier Rotary Club The Fellows, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, come from to bring fertilizer and seeds to Uganda to aid in agricultural produc- 20 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. They are part of a larger tion, something that resonated well with the Fellows. group of 700 Fellows, each hosted at one of 27 institution s. Oklahoma The cohort of Fellows also got to hear from Rebecca Eastham, imme- State University continued to host the group of 25 for the remainder diate past chairperson of the board, who discussed her work with of the six-week session. Meridian Technology Center’s incubator. “It sounds like every one of these entrepreneurs has a great story to “Meridian feels it is very important to be active with the Chamber of tell,” said Brandon Phillips, membership development coordinator at Commerce and that we’re supportive in overall economic development the Chamber. “They really complemented the entrepreneurial spirit because we know workforce is such a key part of that,” Eastham said. we have here in Stillwater.” As the Fellows visited more businesses around Stillwater, they got Each of the Fellows hosted at OSU has an interest in agriculture. to learn how entrepreneurs have been successful in the community John Koemel, a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, pro- and how to emulate that in their hometowns. vided a unique perspective with his background in crop genetics and agronomy. “It sounds like every one of these entrepreneurs has a great story to tell. They really complemented the entrepreneurial spirit we have here in Stillwater.” — BRANDON PHILLIPS BY AUBRIE BOWL AN 13 12 training. The Chamber was one stop on their journey to gain knowl-