The young business environment in Southern Africa and the African continent looks bright following the recent launch in Johannesburg of the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAYESA).
The event was hosted by Young Entrepreneurs South Africa (YESA), with Nunnovation Africa Foundation, IgniteSA and InWeGo as partners.
A ‘network of networks’ model, CAYESA brought together national networks of young entrepreneurs and organisations which are vested in supporting young entrepreneurs, to engage with governments, the private sector, the media and other stakeholders to champion the cause of youth entrepreneurship at the local, national, regional and international level, and drive trade and good entrepreneurship practice and education within and beyond the Southern Africa region.
“It is very exciting to see a CAYE alliance forming in the Southern Africa region, which has so many passionate and talented young entrepreneurs, all hungry to grow their businesses and contribute to their countries’ prosperity. And as well as driving trade within and across borders, the coalition will give the young entrepreneurs a voice with policy makers to enhance the youth entrepreneurship environment, and peer networks for support and sharing of experiences and good practice,” says Katherine Ellis, Director Youth, Commonwealth Secretariat.
The representatives of national youth entrepreneurship bodies from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia have officially united under one voice in enhancing youth entrepreneurship ecosystems and to facilitate collaboration on joint activities that will promote trade within the alliance.
The gathering heard that some the major challenges faced by youth entrepreneurs in the eight member countries that were part of the conference and the African continent in general included access to finance, business sustainability, coaching and mentorship.
The new alliance will link and support young African entrepreneurs as they aim to contribute at the heart of national development. The connections will help drive trade and employment, and build regional cohesion, in direct alignment with Sustainable Development Goals 8 (Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all) and 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development).
An executive team was elected recently, with a representative from each country; the team will be led by South African, KaraboSongo, an esteemed entrepreneur who has played a pivotal role in job creation and advancing economic growth in the creative industry.
For young entrepreneurs, there is immense potential in having a platform that links young entrepreneurs within and between each region of the Commonwealth, and also with the rest of the world through links with such groups as the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance (G20 YEA).
One of the top priorities of CAYESA is to tackle the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality through cross-border trade facilitations.
Appointed CAYESA advisor Ms Innocentia Motau called upon other organizations which support entrepreneurs “to back the vision of CAYESA in fostering economic regional integration.”
Each of the member organization has a mentorship initiative in place and there will be a bi-annual review of its impact, gaps and strategy improvement.
Mentorship is as good as the availability of mentors. It was therefore encouraged to put more effort into recruiting good mentors and e rice them to be available to guide and coach young entrepreneurs on the business journey.
CAYESA will set up a timetable of the trade missions based on agreed bilateral and existing between member countries, they will ensure that their unified voice is hear at the level of the SADC Community, African Union and SACU (Southern Africa Customs Union).
Lastly but not least of all, CAYESA will seek to source knowledge partners who will ensure that impact is monitored and measured.
This article was written by MARTIN CHEMHERE.