At 12:30 sharp, President Shaun called the group to order. Cell phone ringers were rendered inaudible. American members pledged allegiance to the flag.  
Words of inspiration were delivered by Monica Boner, who read from Emerson.

Secretary Tim Hurd introduced the guests of Rotarians:

  • Andrew Smith, a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, studying at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
  • Bertus J. Meins, Executive Director, Meins Consulting Associates, guest of Dr. Sam Hancock
  • Isabelle Ardelean, guest of Abe Helal

In addition, Yoshiko Urakawa brought back a very nice Rotary Club banner from the club in Katsuura, Japan.

Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell announced the birthdays:

  • Sam Holt, January 18. Sam joined our club in 1992, sponsored by Peter Gilsey. His classification is Consulting: Communications/Media.
  • And though she had left her own name off the list, multiple members had confirmed that this week is her birthday: Gretchen Kearney was cheered and wished well by the crowd. 

Visiting Ambassadorial Scholar Andrew Smith, sponsored by the Sacramento Club, came forward to express gratitude for the opportunity to study abroad and told us about a Dublin Club project in Kenya to collect rainwater for village use.

In announcements:

  • Dick Pyle spoke briefly about the recent club project, 10 days hands-on in Jamaica with future opportunities to participate.  Additional information will be supplied next week.
  • Glen O’Glivie, carrying a poster roughly the size of a barn door, talked about the Excellence in Nonprofit Management Award that we and other organizations sponsor with the Washington Post.  The current year’s applications are in and the winners will be announced in May.
  • Past President Howard Davis hailed the much-appreciated dedication of the volunteers who worked hard on the Habitat for Humanity House in Ivy City Saturday the 11th until the skies completely opened with a deluge of rain.  There is another work session February 1. This is the Centennial Project of the club and is funded by the Club Foundation.  The fund drive is over at the end of the month.
  • PP Howard mentioned the countries where the DC Rotary Foundation has current projects:  Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Jamaica, South Africa, Uganda and Japan.
  • The Grate Patrol needs a volunteer for Friday, and two for Tuesday.
  • There is a District Convention May 9-11 in Baltimore, and President Shaun hopes for a good turnout. 
  • Peter Sawyer reminded everyone that the Community Services Grant Applications close at the end of the month.
  • There will be a Happy Hour Thursday, Jan. 23 at the Firefly Restaurant, known for its specialty cocktails and seasonal cuisine.  There will be a Fireside Chat on February 2nd at the home of Monica Smith.
  • President Shaun presented a Paul Harris +1 pin to Shelly Williams and a Paul Harris +2 to Dick Pyle.

He reviewed the new late payment fee for accounts in arrears.  He read a letter from the Tokyo Rotary Club and another club in Japan thanking us for our support.

Marvin Taylor Dormond then introduced our speaker, Haydee Celaya, co-founder of Avanz Capital Partners, Limited. Ms. Celaya has more than 30 years of experience in international finance, including high positions in the International Finance Corporation supervising many accounts and huge funds. She graduated from Georgetown, picked up a Masters from American University, and also worked at the National Bank of Washington.

Ms. Celaya came to the podium and told us that we were the first Rotary Club that she has ever spoken to.   She said she has a great interest in emerging markets. After many years with the IFC, she obtained backing from the W. K. Kellogg Trust and formed Avanz Capital Partners to explore opportunities for investments. 

She said this part of the world economy is growing quite fast, 50% faster than developed markets. As the debt load of these countries has diminished, and as they have built their own reserves, an economic transformation is taking hold. The demographics of younger people and urbanization are producing a growing middle class.  In China, the middle class has grown to 800 million in only a few years.  In the same time period in India it has doubled.  In countries like Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, there are new consumer markets and associated international trade.

Some investors might want to get into these markets through index funds, she said, but the larger companies in such funds are growing more slowly.  The biggest gains come from betting on individual companies – IFC backed South Korea’s LG brand years ago, and watched it grow into a very successful international technology firm.  Ms. Celaya follows agribusiness in Latin America, consumer goods in sub-Saharan Africa, and healthcare in Asia. 

In questions and answers we learned how this all might be easier said than done. How about Pakistan? Avanz Partners is not exploring anything there right now.  How could anyone dare to invest in places of conflict like Egypt?  Well, if you understand a specific business like the bakery business, and are willing to buy into a company that has 60 percent of the market now, and know that everyone will continue to buy bread, the investment may turn out quite profitably in a few years.  There is a supermarket chain in Zimbabwe that does well, in another example.

Ms Celaya explained that the key is local knowledge.  In only 12 of the 53 nations of Africa does the concept of private equity make sense.  How about China? Careful, they have a long way to go, and avoid real estate.  Brazil?  It’s been in and out of fashion, pension funds distort the market. Look to agribusiness, not energy. 

And in answering more general questions, Ms Celaya said in regard to technology they are not venture capitalists, so in the technology sector they might only look at established tech firms with proven innovators.  Also, taking the long view, panic drives decisions and the capital that is fleeing emerging economies will eventually return. 

The tree certificate was read and presented. Nancy Riker brought forth the green lottery hopper but asked for new volunteers to sell future tickets. Lynn Holec won $28 but the large pot of $333 survived unclaimed.  

May Gwinn and Joel Alperstein were greeters. We need volunteers for greeter duty, President Shaun said.

Ted Hamady and Stu Shalloway ran the hospitality table.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.