Local businessman brokers agricultural exchange with Republic of Guinea

Local businessman brokers agricultural exchange with Republic of Guinea

Four years ago, the Republic of Guinea, a geographically small country on the west coast of Africa, elected Alpha Condé during the former French colony’s first democratic election since receiving its independence in 1958.

Tomorrow, President Condé will meet with Fayetteville resident Mason Brown, principal of Atlanta-based S. Benjamin Enterprises, a private wealth management consulting firm, to go back over plans to forge a partnership with the State of Georgia and the Republic of Guinea, which Brown says will produce great benefits to both.

Guinea is a relatively small and undeveloped nation, despite the fact that, according to estimates, it has as a natural resource of about half the world’s reserves of bauxite. Bauxite is a key ingredient in the manufacture of aluminum.

Guinea is also rich in other natural resources, including iron ore, gold, and diamonds.

According to a June 2013 article in British newspaper “The Guardian,” some of Guinea’s leaders have expressed concern that, as the country tries to work its way free of its corrupt and economically depressed past, it may become too dependent on its mining resources, while they see great hope in developing the country’s agricultural potential. Approximately 70 percent or more of Guinea’s population is said to be employed within the agriculture industry.

And that’s where Brown and his wife Jeanne, a native of Guinea, enter the picture.

The couple has been married 17 years, and Brown says his wife, whose family in Guinea has been compared in influence to America’s Kennedy Family, has several times expressed a desire to do something significant for her home country.

“She wanted to help her country to be better,” Brown said. “They need so much.”

Brown says he talked it over with his wife and told her he would “figure out a way.” Since then, Brown has helped bring the agricultural potential in Guinea to the attention of political, educational, and business leaders here in Georgia.

Brown and Condé, who is in New York City for a United Nations climate summit meeting tomorrow, will look at a proposal by University of Georgia’s Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories in Athens to perform a series of soil testing around Guinea and to train native Guineans to develop better, more sustainable farming methods. To that end, Duluth-based AGCO, one of the agricultural equipment industry’s biggest players on the international scene, is also offering major assistance with this project, according to Brown.

Last month, Brown met with Guinea’s First Lady Madame Djene Condé, who visited the Governor’s mansion and the Centers for Disease Control while in Atlanta.

Brown says the soil itself is another rich natural resource in Guinea, and he says Georgia will benefit from what UGA learns from the testing.

“It’s going to help the farming here in Georgia by leaps and bounds,” Brown said.

Brown says he sees great business investment potential, and that’s another topic that will come up in tomorrow’s meeting.

“Guinea is a new frontier,” Brown said. “Their potential is untapped.”

Guinea, at about 95,000 square miles, is roughly the size of the United Kingdom or of a combined Georgia and South Carolina. Guinea’s population is approximately 10.6 million, while Georgia and South Carolina combined have around 15 million in population.

Danny Harrison

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.