In early April, a group of businessmen participated in a US Trade Mission to Qatar, organized by the US-Qatar Business Council. The Council is a US-based non-profit trade organization, and a key player which is improving bilateral understanding, trade and investment between Qatar and the United States.
The mission met for five days. A diverse group of public sector and private sector businesses were represented by executives who spent time meeting with Qatari business leaders and representatives of Qatar government agencies. The goal was to learn about improving US-Qatar business relationships as well as new opportunities for collaboration.
The group met with the Minister of Economy and Commerce; the Finance Ministry; the Qatar Business Chamber; the Development Bank of Qatar, which focuses on fintech and technology in general. They also met with representatives from one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, Q|A; and the Qatar Foundation, which gives hundreds of millions of dollars to US communities in dire straits, such as New Orleans and cities in Texas that were hit by several natural disasters over a short time.
Included among the delegates were important African American leaders representing real estate development, venture capital interests, private equity and entertainment. The president of the NAACP and CEO Derrick Johnson, and President of Xavier University Dr. C. Reynold Verret participated, as well as people from the National Minority Quality Forum.
“I now have a better understanding of the region and the priorities of the Qatari government and business leaders. I was impressed by their development of Education City, which hosts top U.S. universities including Georgetown, my alma mater, and which graduates more women than men. I was equally impressed by their passion across business growth and on issues around economic inequality — an issue at the heart of what LendUp is looking to solve,” said Sasha Orloff, co-founder and CEO of LendUp, a fintech company which participated in the mission.
“Like the U.S., Qatar has a large workforce population similar to what we call the Emerging Middle Class — the half of Americans without access to traditional financial services,” said Jotaka Eaddy, Vice President of Policy, Strategic Engagement and Impact at LendUp, and a former longtime NAACP executive. “The country’s commitment to new financial technologies and financial inclusion is compelling. I was encouraged by Qatar’s interest in working with business and community leaders in the U.S. focused on bringing impact to financially under served communities, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue and exploring areas of collaboration.”