20230923 Okposo GABI

Kyle Okposo had every reason to jump at the opportunity when he was approached about joining a panel at the Global Africa Business Initiative’s “Unstoppable Africa” event, a conference organized by the United Nations Global Compact and held in New York City this past week. 

Okposo’s father was born and raised in Nigeria, so the mission of the Global Africa Business Initiative – to capitalize on Africa’s potential as a global destination for business, trade, and investment – had a personal connection.

But Okposo also saw value in the opportunity to learn from the event’s extensive list of distinguished speakers, which featured business leaders, politicians, and philanthropists from around the world. In doing so, he picked up lessons he plans to apply to his everyday life – including as captain of the Sabres.

“For me, my life right now is being a Buffalo Sabre,” he said. “And so that’s how I’m going to apply it in my life, and I’m going to try and take some of these things that I learned and help this team become the best that it can be. I think that a lot of the lessons that I learned are very applicable and that’s what I’m going to try and continue to do. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for seven years.”

The opportunity had its roots in Okposo’s involvement in selecting Marty Walsh as executive director of the NHL Players Association earlier this year. From there, Okposo’s name reached the National Basketball Players Association, which was tasked with assembling an athlete panel for the Unstoppable Africa event.

Okposo was part of a panel titled “Empowering Athletes – An Entrepreneurial Mindset,” also featuring NFL player Ndamukong Suh and NBA player Gorgui Dieng and moderated by WNBA player Nneka Ogwumike. The theme of the panel was how athletes use their platforms to contribute to their own communities and how those methods can translate to promoting economic growth in Africa.

Watch an excerpt of Okposo’s message in the video below.

“For me, I wanted to talk about what I do and what I try to do in our community, and that’s obviously in Buffalo,” Okposo said. “So, what I try and do is make sure that every interaction that I have is an interpersonal one and it’s one that the people that I’m speaking to or the person that I’m speaking to know that I truly care what they have to say.

“It makes people be more vulnerable, it makes them open up more, it makes them have more of an intimate conversation, it makes them feel empowered and it makes them feel ultimately better. And they’re going to therefore I think have a better quality of life – maybe it’s for 30 seconds, maybe it’s for a day, maybe it’s for a week or it’s something they take with them for the rest of their life. That’s what I try and do and that’s what I try and convey.”

Okposo intends to visit Africa one day in an effort to learn firsthand about his heritage. His hope – and the hope of the Global African Business Initiative – is that he will be visiting a continent on its way to becoming a driving force of global business.  

“They’re trying to just promote the economic development,” Okposo said. “They have so many young people and they’re trying to pass the baton on to those young people and let their ideas flourish, let their communities thrive.

“I think it’s going to cost a lot of resources, a lot of money, and a lot of investment into Africa emotionally and physically and all the rest. But I think that we can do it. I think they can accomplish that because they have a lot of dedicated people. It’s going to be amazing to follow them as they forge a path forward and hopefully be a part of it."