To kick-off the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the CEO of the African Leadership Network, Isaac Fokuo, called upon entrepreneurs in Rwanda and on the entire African continent to always be innovative and creative in their respective ventures. He stressed that creativity will enable them to overcome the challenges they are facing, as well help them achieve their future goals.
Fokuo spoke to audiences Monday morning during the launching the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in Kigali.
According to Fokuo, youth aged 15-45 represent 60% of the African population, 45% of the continent’s labor force, of which 50% are illiterates and 60% of Africa’s youth remain unemployed. It is therefore imperative that the legacy we leave behind is that of job creation and sustained prosperity. It makes no sense to own a private jet as an entrepreneurif you do not create a lasting legacy of job creation to make sure that African youth are employed, Fokuo said.
He noted that recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently carried out a survey that showed that, of the African youth that join rebel groups, many do so because of unemployment. He used this as an example of the need for African governments and other stakeholders to develop stringent measures and mechanisms to help more people become entrepreneurs.
In a bid to promote entrepreneurship among African countries, Fokuo’s institution plans to offer practical fellowships to entrepreneurs, where entrepreneurs travel and learn more business skills from their peers in other countries and share entrepreneurial ideas.
Fokuo also noted that his institution recently established an angel fund to assist early stage entrepreneurs get over the initial capital hump.
The CEO of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Hannington Namara, noted that in order for entrepreneurship to prosper in Rwanda and beyond, it is imperative for entrepreneurs to constantly network and collaborate with their colleagues in Africa and the world over.
He said that the Global Entrepreneurship Week has enabled entrepreneurs to gain clarity about their respective expectations and to learn skills and knowledge from each other.
“The target that has been set up by our government cannot be achieved by the government itself, but it can only be achieved through having strong partnership with the private sector through creating an enabling environment which promotes entrepreneurship in the country,” said Namara.
He said that investing in the entrepreneurial sector, especially among young entrepreneurs, is not a luxury but a necessity which all concerned authorities should do.
Zulfat Mukarubega, the founder and legal representative of the Rwanda University Tourism College (RTUC) who spoke on behalf of entrepreneurs, said that the GEW is of great importance as it creates a platform for sharing business and entrepreneurship ideas among the participants. It also allows them to discuss how best they can address the challenges still affecting the entrepreneurship sector in Africa.
“I have been an entrepreneur for the over 30 years and according to my analysis and observation, I believe our country and the African continent is on the right track in as far as promoting entrepreneurship is concerned, because the governments are doing their best to put in place a conducive environment for entrepreneurs,” said Mukarubega.
However, Mukarubega noted that some of the biggest challenges that are still faced by entrepreneurs in Rwanda and other African countries are insufficient funds to finance their businesses and lack of skills to run their businesses. He encouraged banks to provide loans to entrepreneurs and encouraged the government to provide citizens with more employable skills.
She also noted that the number of women entrepreneurs in Rwanda is still low compared to men, saying that there is still a need for Rwandan government, through institutions likes Rwanda Development Board and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to encourage more women to become entrepreneurs, since a woman is the foundation of any family and society at large.
In an interview with The Rwanda Focus shortly after the launching ceremony, Saul Garlick, Founder and CEO of the experiential education company Think Impact, said he believes that African governments still need to promote the infrastructure sector, especially through the construction of more roads and access to electricity, which he said would enable entrepreneurs to easily carry out their daily activities.
He also called for the promotion of easy access to information, like through the Internet, saying that this will help entrepreneurs carryout out research on how best they can succeed in their respective ventures.
This is the third year that Rwanda celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week. It was first launched in 2011.All week, various entrepreneurship activities will be held around the country. To find out which events are taking place when, go to:gewrwanda.org
[source: The Rwanda Focus]