Franciscan University economics professor Dr. Michael Welker in Nigeria with Winnie Okafor, Matthew Delgehausen, and Father Anthony, a Nigerian diocesan priest.
STEUBENVILLE, OH—According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, countries in West Africa rank in the upper echelon worldwide for business and government corruption.
Against this backdrop of “grease payments” Dr. Michael Welker ’89, chair of Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Department of Accounting, Business Administration, and Economics, gave 15 talks and workshops in 20 days in Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo.
Sponsored by the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, Welker delivered a message of hope and practicality in workshops held in big cities and jungle villages.
“Corruption diverts resources away from productive activity, causes foreign investors to pull out, and stifles economic growth,” said Welker. “First, we showed them the evidence that corruption is a block to economic growth and then told them as business people, how to corruption-proof a business,” says Welker.
One of his talks to African businessmen, “10 Steps to a Just Business,” explained how to hire, train, and monitor employees.
The Catholic faith is strong in West Africa, said Welker, making it possible for him, at times, to take a catechetical approach. In Togo, he spoke on Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and implications for family and servant leadership in business. In some talks, he explained how the business vision statement can be viewed as part of God’s creation plan.
“The people we met want to know how to evangelize; how to attract someone to become morally good in government and business settings,” he said.
Welker returned from the trip with a positive outlook for the developing countries.
“There is strong evidence they are learning to handle their health problems. The median age is getting older; their educational systems are full, so I expect to see an explosion on entrepreneurship.”
Father Paul Sullins, PhD, a sociology professor at The Catholic University of America, joined Welker for talks on Catholic social doctrine, providing participants with a solid grounding in the concepts of human dignity, solidarity, the common good, and subsidiarity. At an extension parish in the outskirts of Accra in Ghana, Father Sullins celebrated Mass and performed 22 baptisms.
Other members of the presentation team were Winnie Okafor, an American-born Nigerian, who is a graduate student at the University of Maryland; and Matthew Delgehausen who graduated in 2013 with a finance degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville.