A three-day workshop of African youth and women entrepreneurs on “Building Capacity in Entrepreneurship and Leadership for Youth and Women Empowerment” was held in Madagascar from 3-5 November 2019, ahead of the 11th African Private Sector Forum. Conducted over a period of three days, the training consisted of presentations and interactive sessions with global experts from across Africa, Asia and other parts of the world.
“Entrepreneurship needs persistence,” emphasized Zeng Jingqiang, General Manager of People Strong, a high-tech company specializing in providing smart healthcare products and solutions. “Choose the thing that you care about,” he told the more than 50 young entrepreneurs present. “Victory will ultimately belong to you.”
The participants had the opportunity to connect and learn first-hand from entrepreneurs and business leaders such as Tan Tian, Zhang Ye, Yuan Huohong and Zeng Jingqiang from Shenzhen, China.
50 annual sponsored one-month internship opportunities were announced by the Shenzhen Youth Federation during the event. These internships for youth entrepreneurs from developing countries at high-tech companies in Shenzhen will begin in 2020, and come in addition to trainings and exchanges already in the pipeline under the Youth Entrepreneurship for the South (YES) programme
Supported by the African Union Commission, Shenzhen Youth Federation and UNOSSC, the workshop enabled African youth and women entrepreneurs to acquire entrepreneurship and project management skills. These skills, in turn, would expand their opportunities to implement business ideas, leverage the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) market, and contribute to the fight against poverty through job creation at home.
Targeted training and mentoring at the workshop equipped participants with firsthand new innovative entrepreneurship skills. Focus areas included: project identification; market and business risk analysis; feasibility analysis; social, environmental, human resources, commercial and technical feasibility; business management; financial resource mobilization; and communication and networking. The trainings were designed to improve the ways the young entrepreneurs approached business, towards expanding their opportunities, creating more jobs and contributing towards poverty eradication efforts.
Field visits to factories provided participants with firsthand experience and practical operational knowledge. The workshop also provided a platform for the creation of business networks, knowledge exchange and sharing of experience and success stories between the participants and peers from other regions of the world.
Yuan Huohong, successful Chinese entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of Bliss Mall shared his own experiences with inspired aspiring entrepreneurs in the room. He shared that it took failing three times before realizing what the formula was for launching his successful retail benchmarking company, which today has 14 million users. “I realized from my failures that making good products is very important and selling them is equally important,” he said, emphasizing that finally, he “(put) a strong emphasis on improving user experience.”
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as United Nations Agenda 2030, explicitly call for an Africa whose development is people-centered, relying on the potential offered by African people, especially women and youth. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 Ten-Year Implementation Plan aims further to achieve a 25% reduction in unemployment by 2023 and to specifically reduce youth and women’s unemployment by 2% per year.