AEDS Blog: News, Updates, Upcoming Events & Much More

Little Africa Launched with Community Leaders and Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright

“Lift up as you Climb” – says Justice Wilhelmina Wright to community leaders….

Little Africa – a marketing and branding campaign, that grew out of the World Cultural Heritage District in St. Paul was launched in St. Paul on November 14, 2013.

“There is tremendous economic and cultural energy in the African immigrant community reflected in its $1.4 billion buying power in Minnesota”, said Gene Gelgelu, Executive Director of African Economic Development Solutions and founding chair of the Little Africa Development Group. “This evening you will experience that vibrant energy,” he added.

“The core area of Little Africa St. Paul is the area by the intersection of Snelling and University Avenue in St. Paul. Little Africa-St. Paul will connect this core to African immigrant assets in other areas of St. Paul and in a way that will connect mainstream consumers and people to the business and cultural assets of the African immigrant community,” said Gelgelu. “We are working with partners to establish Little Africa-Minneapolis and Little Africa-Brooklyn Boulevard.”

The program began with a lively cultural dance by India Jamal – an African immigrant dancer who shared three different traditional dances from Africa throughout the program. The program also featured photographs of the African immigrant community taken by Roseville Area High School student, Cristina Corrie.

The Little Africa Development Group leaders shared insights into their communities and supported the vision of Little Africa. Hassan Hussein, Executive Director of the Oromo Community of Minnesota shared insights about the large Oromo community of Minnesota. “We estimate that there are over 30,000 Oromo people living in Minnesota,” Hussein said. “It is a very diverse community and has much to offer Minnesota. We support the vision of Little Africa” he added.

Lemlem Kebede, President of the Ethiopian Community in Minnesota also supported the vision of Little Africa in her remarks. “The Ethiopian community celebrates many festivals including its annual picnic at Fort Snelling State Park. We welcome you all to join us in those celebrations,” said Kebede.

Michael Fondungullah, Vice Chair of the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce and founding member of the Cameroonian Community of Minnesota has a long history of involvement in working to create a pan-African economic presence in Minnesota. “My vision is to see this area bustling with businesses owned by African immigrant communities. We could even host – ‘Africa Day’- on this section of Snelling Avenue,” he added.

Ghas Mends, board member from the Sierra Leone Community of Minnesota said, “We are an umbrella group of the diverse Sierra Leone community of Minnesota. We love Minnesota and our community members have many talents that could help build the state.”

Dr. Kehinde Odusote, President of the West African Collaborative and Social Secretary of the Minnesota Institute for Nigerian Development (MIND) shared information on the Nigerian community in Minnesota. “MIND is the umbrella body for all diverse Nigerian ethnic groups in Minnesota. As an organization, we promote our cultural and economic capacity as we foster unity though social, educational and economic development. Our vision is to provide a platform that allows Nigerians to become productive citizens through cultural sensitive values. We are excited about the possibilities of Little Africa initiative,” she said.

Dr. Bruce Corrie, co-founder of the World Cultural Heritage District and professor of economics at Concordia University, introduced Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright.

Justice Wright gave a powerful and eloquent presentation to the packed Snelling Café as she celebrated both the African immigrant communities as well as core American values. She articulated what community members agreed was a core value of Little Africa, “Lift up as we Climb” Justice Wright told the community. She said she was particularly happy to be at the launch of the Little Africa Free Library as literacy is so important for community vitality. She presented information on the courts in multiple languages, to be placed in the Little Africa Free Library.

In the question and answer session moderated by Dr. Odusote, community members both supported the vision of Little Africa as well as inquired about plans to engage with African immigrant groups in different parts of the city. Business owners inquired about resources to help them develop their business plans and new business initiatives.

Lisa Tabor, owner of Culture Brokers and co-founder of the World Cultural Heritage District, presented the vision of the Little Africa Free Library that adds to the many little free libraries across Minnesota’s neighborhoods. “Community members can borrow books free and lend some of their own for others to read. In the Little Africa Free Library at Snelling Café you will find books by famous African authors. Come and share these books and enjoy this beautiful Snelling Café,” she added.

Paige Joostens, a business major at Concordia University, reported results of the research on the college student market for ethnic food that was released to the public at the event. ”Our research indicates that there is an opportunity for both college students and ethnic restaurants to gain,” said Joostens. Business owners and supporters will be invited to a meeting in January to discuss these findings. The research was funded through a grant from Minnesota Campus Compact. The students will also engage in a marketing effort to bring college customers to ethnic restaurants and delivery vendors, including those restaurants in Little Africa.

Two entrepreneurs shared their story at the event. Afeworki Bein, owner of Snelling Café shared his support for Little Africa and his story of how he started from a small coffee shop to a full service restaurant in an expanded space. Participants at the launch feasted on an African buffet cooked by Afeworki and his staff.

Teshome Belayeneh, owner of Rebecca’s Bakery, celebrated the support he received in America as a new immigrant. He shared with the audience two cakes that were the signature products of his wife. The cakes were thoroughly enjoyed by the people present.

Leaders also celebrated similar concepts in the area – Little Mekong and the Rondo Cultural and Historic District on University Avenue.

“I was impressed with the positive energy in the room,” said President Tom Ries of Concordia University. “It is so special to be part of this dynamic community,” he added.

The event concluded with a call to action by Hassan Hussein who invited all present to work together to build the vision of Little Africa. Next steps include articulating strategies to bring the community together around this vision.

The event was taped for cable by the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) and will be shared on area cable channels in Minnesota.

Little Africa contact persons: Gene Gelgelu 651-646-9411 and Dr. Bruce Corrie 612-321-8263


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Little Africa of Minnesota Launch Party @Snelling Cafe in St. Paul November 14th, 2013

African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) would like to thank everyone for supporting and attending the launch of Little Africa Business & Cultural District of Minnesota at Snelling Cafe in St. Paul on November 14th, 2013. We would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors, Snelling Cafe (located at 638 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104) and Rebecca’s Bakery (located at 2111 E Franklin Avenue #2, Minneapolis, MN 55404). Below are some pictures we captured at the event.

Feel free to share. Stay tuned to AEDS for future updates and developments on Little Africa Business & Cultural District of Minnesota.

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Financial Fitness Boot Camp New Year Resolution on THURSDAY DECEMBER 5th 1pm to 6:30pm

AEDS and University of Minnesota Extension challenge you to be financially fit. Attend the Financial Fitness Boot Camp New Year Resolution on THURSDAY DECEMBER  5th from 1pm to 6:30pm at: 1821 University ave Suite S-127 St. Paul, MN 55104.

AEDS Financial Fitness Challenge will help you gain the power to:

  • Build & Manage Spending and Saving Plans
  • Identify Personal Value
  • Understand the Myths and Facts about Credit
  • And a variety of workout sessions

The FIRST 13 PEOPLE TO REGISTER & ATTEND the entire session will receive a $35 GIFT CARD & a FULL PAID SCHOLARSHIP to attend the GET FINANCIALLY FIT BOOT CAMP. LUNCH & REFRESHMENTS will be provided. SPACE IS LIMITED.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ONLINE or call 651-646-9411.

Financial Fitness Boot Camp New Year Resolution

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AEDS Financial Fitness Boot Camp Round #2 on SUNDAY OCT. 27th 10am – 5:30pm

AEDS and University of Minnesota Extension challenge you to be financially fit. Attend the Financial Fitness Boot Camp SUNDAY OCTOBER 27th from 10am – 5:30pm at the Oren Gateway Center at Augsburg College 2211 Riverside Avenue – CB 142 Minneapolis, MN 55454. The Oren Gateway Center is on Riverside Avenue, between 21st Ave. S. and 22nd Ave. S. AEDS Financial Fitness Challenge will help you gain the power to:

  • Build & Manage Spending and Saving Plans
  • Identify Personal Value
  • Understand the Myths and Facts about Credit
  • And a variety of workout sessions

The FIRST 15 PEOPLE TO REGISTER & ATTEND the entire session will receive a $35 GIFT CARD & a FULL PAID SCHOLARSHIP to attend the GET FINANCIALLY FIT BOOT CAMP. LUNCH & REFRESHMENTS will be provided. SPACE IS LIMITED.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ONLINE or call 651-646-9411.

AEDS Financial Fitness Boot Camp Round #2

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AEDS Little Africa of Minnesota Branding

The nodal points for Little Africa in all three areas are classified as “opportunity clusters” in racially concentrated areas of poverty (RCAP) in the metro area by the Metropolitan Council. In the Saint Paul and Minneapolis nodes they represent high access to jobs and services with low performing schools and poor social and environmental living conditions. The Brooklyn Boulevard area is characterized as having moderate access to jobs and services and moderate performing schools and environments. The aim of this project is to provide an avenue for African immigrants to work collaboratively to achieve a higher standard of living and business and economic development.

Little Africa Logo Concepts

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AEDS Financial Fitness Boot Camp

AEDS and University of Minnesota Extension challenge you to be financially fit. Attend the Financial Fitness Boot Camp Thursday June 27th from 12:30pm – 7:00pm at the AEDS Conference Room located at 1821 University Avenue W Suite S-127 St. Paul, MN 55104. AEDS Financial Fitness Challenge will help you gain the power to:

  • Build & Manage Spending and Saving Plans
  • Identify Personal Value
  • Understand the Myths and Facts about Credit
  • And a variety of workout sessions

The FIRST 15 PEOPLE TO REGISTER & ATTEND the entire session will receive a $50 GIFT CARD & a FULL PAID SCHOLARSHIP to attend the GET FINANCIALLY FIT BOOT CAMP. LUNCH & REFRESHMENTS will be provided. SPACE IS LIMITED.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER online or call 651-646-9411.

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AEDS is Building a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Energy in Minnesota’s African Immigrant Communities

A Note form Gene Gelgelu, Executive Director of African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) St. Paul MN, 05/2013 – African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) is building a vibrant entrepreneurial energy in Minnesota’s African immigrant communities by providing direct services and connecting to them to value-added resources.

We end April and begin May on another positive note. April has been another exciting month for AEDS. We celebrated the success of two of our business owners who received awards from one of our partner organizations. Beko Tufa, the owner of Dilla Ethiopian Restaurant and the owners of New Vision Transportation, Edao Bukula and Fayisa Bullo, received awards on April 20, 2013 from Neighborhood Development Center (NDC). Their success and award was not only motivational and uplifting to the owners themselves, but the entire African community at large here in Minnesota and around. AEDS is excited to be a part of their success and we will continue to help emerging business and share more success stories in the coming months and years.

Because of committed supporters like you, AEDS is able to continue its mission to building a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in Minnesota’s African immigrant communities.

CLICK HERE to Make an Impact Today. Make a Donation to AEDS.

AEDS provides micro-entrepreneurial training, financial literacy education, loan access, business consulting, and home ownership education. For more information about AEDS and our programs and services, feel free to contact us or visit us online at www.aeds-mn.org.

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Changing the Paradigm of Hope in Minnesota’s African Immigrant Communities

A Note from Gene Gelgelu, Executive Director of African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS)

St. Paul, MN 04/2013- African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) is moving African immigrant communities in Minnesota toward economic opportunity.

Since the establishment of the organization in 2008, AEDS has been able to create a collaborative relationship with several nonprofit organizations in Twin Cities and has been able to increase its capacity and provide low income African immigrants access to resources. In addition, small business owners have received exceptional support from AEDS in consulting and marketing support.

I am always amazed at the story of AEDS, our supporters and the numerous aspiring business owners. When I look back at the fiscal year 2012, it was a challenging but successful year. We have started the New Year 2013 with excitement and appreciation to our committed supporters to move more low income African immigrants toward economic opportunity. This work is only possible with your generous support.

Click Here to Make an Impact Today.

Our 2013 spring business training class started on March 21st, 2013, and we are excited about AEDS becoming a go to organization for African immigrant communities. We provide business consulting, loan access, financial literacy education, and homeownership education in addition to business plan training program. For more information about AEDS and our programs and services, feel free to contact us.

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AEDS February News: Business Plan Training Graduation Ceremony & Much More

African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) is moving African immigrant communities in Minnesota toward economic opportunity. Since the establishment of AEDS in 2008, we have been able to partner and collaborate with many neighborhood organizations throughout the Twin Cities.  For example, AEDS, in partnership with Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), has been providing a 16 week long entrepreneurial training program. These small business owners have received exceptional support from AEDS including direct services and connections to a variety of small business resources.

February marks yet another successful month for AEDS. We celebrated our business plan training graduation ceremony on Valentine’s Day and also initiated our new business networking workshop. The workshop was educational and served as an opportunity for business owners across the Twin Cities to learn from individuals who have successfully demonstrated the true meaning of hard work and the importance of networking. The business owners who participated in our first business networking workshop came from various industries across the Twin Cities.

Our 2013 Spring business plan training workshop is scheduled to start in March. We are excited about AEDS becoming a go to organization for the diverse African immigrant communities who call the Twin Cities home.  AEDS provides business consulting, loan access, financial literacy education, and homeownership education in addition to business plan training for aspiring entrepreneurs.

For more information about AEDS and the programs & services we offer, contact us at info@aeds-mn.org or give us a call at 651-646-9411.

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Attention Homebuyers: Register for upcoming AEDS Homeownership Workshops

AEDS has partnered with the Minnesota Home Ownership Center to provide homeownership workshops to prepare homebuyers to be successful homeowners. Some topics we will cover include:

  • The steps to becoming a homeowner;
  • How to prepare financially for homeownership;
  • The importance of credit & how it impacts homeownership;
  • How to choose the right mortgage & get preapproved;
  • The importance of having a home inspection; and much more.

We offer homeownership workshops throughout the year. Our homeownership workshops are open to all homebuyers in Minnesota. Click here to register for upcoming homeownership workshops.

AEDS Homeownership Education Topics We Will Cover

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