ACICC: An Emerging Story of Struggle and Success in Community Building for Economic Justice 

•ACICC was founded in 2013 by a group of persons of African descent who are highly qualified (with decades of professional experiences) but unemployed, under-employed and reside in Halifax Nova Scotia. The establishment of ACICC affirms the belief that persons of African descent and immigrants in general have huge skills and knowledge that could be harnessed as the building block for their economic progress in their new environment. However, many persons of African descent and immigrants alike remain unemployed and under-employed. As a result, in 2012, a passionate group of African Immigrants led by Ngozi Otti met to discuss the need to build an economic base for persons of African descent and to identify areas of potential opportunities for business development. The first meeting was held at the office of the African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes- ADAM. Ms. Rose Armstrong, Clarence Armstrong, Ngozi Otti, Shade Oduntan, Tunde Oduntan, John Adekunle, Mathias Gonedre were in attendance.

•This meeting led to a community-wide consultation on the need to develop an economic base to help persons of African descent gain financial and economic independence. Many opinion leaders and community groups were consulted. These include ADAM, Mohamed Yaffa, Dr. Felicia Eghan, Mr. Tony Eghan, Re. Elias Mutale, Mavis Suh, Pastor Lundam, Pastor Abella Kasheke, Phillipa Ovonjiodida among many others.

•In December 16th 2013 after a 12months community consultation and meetings, ACICC was registered as a cooperative. Ms. Rose Armstrong became the first president of ACICC, Godfred Chongatera -Secretary, Mac Njoh- Assistant secretary one permanent seat reserved for ADAM as the treasurer.  Other directors include Mathias Gonedre, Garfield Symmons, Adekunle John, Rev. Elias Mutale, Shade Oduntan and Ngozi Otti.  The goal was for members to pool money together and to invest in low-risk businesses. The return on investment would be shared among financial and contributing members of the coop. A sub-committee was nominated to develop a draft policy and procedure document. The sub-committee members were Mathias Gonedre, John Adekunle, and Shade Oduntan. They developed the initial policy and procedure document which went through several reviews by community members during community meeting sessions. 

•In 2014, the first economic empowerment conference for all persons of African descent was organized and led by ACICC. Facilitated by Mohamed Yaffa and Amanda Reddick. The goal was to bring all persons of African descent together to identify where and how to work together towards economic development and self-reliance. Many issues were identified. Agriculture and agro-business sector was identified as a potential area to work together.

•In March 2015, ACICC led and organized the first Women Economic Empowerment conference.  The goal was to identify existing skills, abilities and knowledge of women of African descent; to use the findings from the conference to develop a program that would build on existing skills and abilities. The goal is to develop opportunities for business development using the asset-based approach.  Skills identified include farming, catering, sewing, photography, food preparation and vending, house keeping, dancing, singing, hair styling, beading, jewelry-making, retailing, child care, among many others.

•In 2015, based on on-going initiatives, Ngozi Otti was nominated as the first Executive director pending availability of funds for salary. The African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes (ADAM) – (the custodian of ACICC) disassociated themselves from any involvement with ACICC and gave ACICC automaton to vacate their office. ADAM discontinued and relinquished their permanent position as the treasurer of ACICC. ACICC moved into Veith House. Michael Fisher became the president of ACICC, Mohamed Yaffa became the treasurer, Mathias Gonedre- the Investement director. Vice-president- Pearl Ijeoma Ejelike, Philipa Ovonjiodida- Secretary. Board members till date include Daphne Daisy During, Dr. Etienne Mfoumou, Emmanuel Anom, Lameia Reddick

•In 2015, based on findings from the women economic conference and NS economic empowerment conference, ACICC redefined its focus from mobilizing members to contribute money for investment into real estate and other low risk investment. The move was as a result of high costs associated with managing the money, high technology and software needs of the plan. The focus moved to identifying opportunities for business development using already existing skills and knowledge of members. The business incubation program was conceived

• In 2016, the skill development and business incubation center was opened.  The skill development and business incubation program was launched. The goal of the incubation program is to strength already existing skills (identified in the conference); to create opportunities for business and entrepreneurial development and to reduce the cost of new business start-up in catering, tailoring, food preparation and vending. The center was set up with industrial and domestic sewing machine, commercial kitchen equipment, audio-visuals, food vending and display space to reduce the cost of doing business for those interested in catering, tailoring and related retail food vending businesses. 

•In 2016, ACICC launched the ethnocultural farming and agri-business project in collaboration with Dalhousie College of Agriculture. The first trial to grow non-traditional fruits and vegetables such as okro, hot pepper, African spinach, egg plant, tiger nuts and Jamaican thyme among others commenced. The goal is to build on knowledge and experience of Africans in growing their own fruits and vegetables and to absorb the labour of newcomer immigrants through involvement in farming and agri-business. 

• In 2016, ACICC expanded its target population from a sole focus on persons of African descent to including all persons with established economic barriers. The move to re-brand ACICC aligns with the belief in community building across all forms of socially constructed divides and to move from self-reliance to collective interdependent relationship needed for sustainable economic progress.

•In 2017, ACICC was nominated as one of the NGO delegate to participate in the 61ST UN Session on the Status of Women, New York. ACICC entered into a partnership agreement with CommonGoods Solutions to help build ACICC capacity as a social enterprise. Four years into our history, ACICC continues to commit to its mandate. Through our business and entrepreneurial development initiatives in farming and agribusiness, skill development and business incubation, ACICC is well positioned to facilitate the economic integration of all persons with established economic barriers.