Entrepreneurs are the creators of solutions. Throughout history, going as far back as many thousands of years ago, humans have always sought to improve their lives in different areas regardless of where they lived around the world.
In 2019, people still create products and services to sell in the marketplace whether online or in a physical store. And consumers buy goods from businesses with the main goal to satisfy priority needs. As a result, entrepreneurship is not a new thing, but is rather a means through which a marketplace brings buyers and sellers to transact by exchanging money for goods that can improve the living conditions of people.
The creation of the Internet and social media platforms, and the adoption of the formal economy has made entrepreneurship a global phenomenon, especially in Africa where the start-up ecosystem is rapidly developing and gaining a huge momentum while getting a lot of media coverage whether in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, or Ethiopia.
Entrepreneurs need training to succeed
As the founder of Congo Business Network, I work with Congolese entrepreneurs from around the world, including those who are based in Canada, in the United States, in Europe, or in other African countries outside of Congo. Congo Business Network is an international network of Congolese professionals and entrepreneurs.
Its mission is to connect Congolese entrepreneurs in the diaspora in order to take action and contribute to the economic development of Congo. The objective of the network is to put the expertise of its members into initiatives that contribute to the advancement of their professional lives.
The network accordingly took 5 leading Congolese tech start-ups (MaxiCash, Tinda, MEDpay, Eteyelo and Moko) to Paris to participate in the Afrobytes event on May 15, 2019 at Station F to pitch before investors, find business partners, and gain visibility for their solutions and expertise in international media ranging from Radio France Internationale, TV5Monde to Congo Digital.
These three news media interviewed entrepreneurs in our delegation and broadcast the interviews on radio, television and on social media, including videos that were posted on YouTube.
Similarly, Congo Business Network has partnered with the Africa Fintech Summit for the event that will be held on November 21, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through this partnership, the network will take leading Congolese start-ups in the FinTech sector to go meet investors and find business partners that can help them to take their entrepreneurial endeavors to the next level.
Based on my experience working with many Congolese entrepreneurs living in Kinshasa, Goma, and Lubumbashi, I have concluded that the majority of young entrepreneurs need entrepreneurship training in these key areas : business strategy with the goal to develop a business model that produces revenues; professional communication aimed at developing writing skills to effectively communicate with business partners, clients, investors, the media, and the public; marketing expertise (both traditional and digital competence focused on social media channels where existing and target clients can be reached effectively based on a niche).
Another key skill for young entrepreneurs to master this year and beyond is knowing how to present oneself professionally on LinkedIn. It is extremely important to have a professional picture on the platform; use this social media channel that is ranked the 23rd most visited website in the world (based on the Alexa Traffic Rank) to develop a brand in a sector; find new clients and partners; and connect with other entrepreneurs by reading articles and posting comments on a regular basis.
Further, in today’s extremely competitive business world, young entrepreneurs in Congo and in other French-speaking countries in Africa need to learn English if they want to go far in business and be able to work with partners from English-speaking countries.
For entrepreneurs who want to raise capital through business angels, investment banks, or corporations in Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, or Germany, fluency in English will be a tremendous advantage in business.
In addition, the majority of information on the Internet today is in English, not in French. English is the language of choice at top tech companies in the United States ranging from Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon to Microsoft.
Congolese entrepreneurs who develop skills in the key areas mentioned above and make a sustained effort to learn English will be able to do business at a global level and, in the process, create products and services that meet the needs of consumers not only in Kinshasa or Brazzaville, but also in other international markets where they can find clients. Entrepreneurs are indeed the creators of solutions that improve the lives of people around the world.
The government must promote entrepreneurship
Congo is at a defining moment in its history given the ascension of President Felix Tshisekedi to the Presidency on January 24, 2019, a date on which the first democratic transfer of power occurred in the country since its independence nearly 59 years ago on June 30, 1960 from Belgium.
This year and going forward during his mandate, President Tshisekedi has the opportunity of a lifetime, through his executive authority, to position the country on a series of strategic and timely actions intended to go in a better direction that will lead to economic and social progress.
And the President’s work will be seen as results-oriented leadership manifests itself in the improvement of the standard of living of people as many Congolese continue to have their needs met for basic and necessary things such as clean water, electricity, affordable Internet, healthy food, quality education, safe neighborhoods, and employment that pays a living wage, giving workers the chance to get ahead in the future.
In this way, President Felix Tshisekedi needs to focus on creating, encouraging, and promoting an environment that promotes entrepreneurship, mostly through the rule of law and regulations that encourage entrepreneurial initiatives across the country, in which nearly 60 percent of the population, or about 54 million are 25 years old or younger.
Based on the most recent statistics from McKinsey & Company, the population of Congo is about 87 million people, of which over 80 percent of these young people need appropriate training in entrepreneurship so that they can equip themselves with the knowledge and expertise to start a thriving business, in the formal sector.
Ensuring that these young entrepreneurs have access to co-working spaces at affordable costs will help to alleviate the financial difficulties of starting a business.
In fact, there are limited number of jobs in the government (even in the most developed countries in America and in Europe), especially at the national level. Many young Congolese will need to find employment in the private sector in industries ranging from agriculture; technical services such as graphics design, mobile applications development, web design and database administration; to consulting work in digital marketing and business strategy advisory.
The United States of America where I have lived for 23 years is an economic superpower because the role of the government at the city, state, and national levels focuses on ensuring that entrepreneurs have an environment in which they can succeed–if they start a business and work hard to make their dreams a reality, not with oversight success, but through perseverance and patience over time using the resources they have in order to create products or services that clients need and can afford in a competitive marketplace.
Entrepreneurship and development are intertwined
In conclusion, President Tshisekedi has made entrepreneurship for young Congolese and the development of the digital sector that results in the efficiency of performance for government ministries and agencies and the innovation of existing technology infrastructure in Congo a priority during his presidency.
This is a good intent that merits applause and support from all Congolese and also from the international community, especially from organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the African Union, and the European Union.
Now is the time for the Congolese government to get to work by collaborating with the private sector in order to achieve President Tshisekedi’s ambitious vision for economic development during his mandate.
Noel K. Tshiani is president of Agere Global an investment advisory and business strategy firm headquartered in New York.
DRC: USD 100 million for the construction of the major cultural centre for Central Africa
Prime Minister Ilunkamba has just authorized, on Monday, October 14, 2019, the Minister of Urban Planning and Housing Then Mwabilu and the Minister of State for International Cooperation Guillaume Manjolo to sign two orders.
This, after his visit to the site where the great Cultural and Artistic Centre of Central Africa will be built as well as the INA Buildings, the National Institute of Arts, where he ordered the resumption of work.
The first decree concerns the postponement of the decree of 14 October 2016 and the second concerns the decommissioning of a portion of land in favour of Sino-Congolese cooperation.
The Chinese company BEIJING URBAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP is in charge of building this large Centre for 30 months. The cost of the work is estimated at US$100 million.
After this visit to the field, the head of the Ilunga Ilunkamba Government himself presided over the signing ceremony of these two ministerial decrees for the implementation of the Chinese government’s donation to the DRC.
There was talk of ending the superposition of orders first by repealing the one that granted the same concession to Richesse Taylor.
It should be noted that the cultural and artistic centre, one of the largest in Central Africa, will constitute, according to the Minister of State for Cooperation Guillaume Mandjolo, an innovative source for the public treasury and restore the DRC’s position as a leader in the world of African culture.
This large Centre will be located between the triumphal boulevard and Assossa avenues, a few metres from the People’s Palace.
The construction of this important cultural building includes the large 2,000-seat theatre, the small 800-seat theatre, meeting rooms, the gymnasium and a car park.
DRC: in 2020, Goma will host the « NiNyumbani » development fair
The capital of North Kivu province will host in 2020, a development fair entitled: « NINYUMBANI », which means « at home » in Swahili. It is the initiative of a young native of Greater Kivu, Marc Lanoy Kasongo, entrepreneur and founder of OPLUS, a communication, marketing and advertising company.
« NiNyumbani » is an event that brings together different decision-makers from the DRC and the Great Lakes Region around reflections aimed at a clear and achievable future.
It is a platform whose mission is to create a common front against the many challenges related to unemployment, education, access to electricity and water, as well as agricultural and road infrastructure.
This exhibition, which is part of a community development process, is organized once a year around a central theme on which different themes focus on economic opportunities and emerging concerns in the region in order to propose practical solutions that can be applied at cost, in the medium and long term.
This activity is expected to welcome 500 exhibitors from different fields of activity; among others, economic operators, entrepreneurs, state institutions, banks, start-up managers, incubators, civil society and universities, opinion leaders, etc.
In addition to exhibitions, the programme also includes conferences.
« This fair is also being set up to give a new image to our Dear City of Goma and the long-suffering province of North Kivu, whose image is being tarnished both inside and outside the country. We want to demonstrate here the potential of our province, and what we can bring to the development of our country, » explained Marc L. Kasongo, who is in Kinshasa for contacts around the organization of this major Rendez-vous.
To him he added, « we also want to give everyone, whatever their social rank, the opportunity to come and present their products and services, because we aim for development at the grassroots level. NINYUMBANI is our common home, » added the initiator of the activity.
For Marc Lanoy Kasongo, several results are expected from this exhibition.
The aim is to propose solutions to the fundamental development challenges in Greater Kivu and the DRC; to propose new business, industry and investment opportunities and strategies in Greater Kivu and the DRC; to create partnerships between stakeholders; to connect decision-makers in the sub-region; and to create a practical solution through work.
This exhibition, whose date remains to be determined, can only be possible thanks to the contribution of the Congolese, from which Marc Kasongo solicits the involvement of the authorities and mainly the Head of State, who has made the promotion of youth his main concern.
Global: Global value chains have stimulated growth but the momentum is running out of steam!
The World Bank Group published a new report on October 8, 2019 in Washington, D.C., USA. This World Development Report 2020 focuses on trade for development in an era of globalized value chains. It details strategies that will enable developing countries to improve their performance for the benefit of their populations by undertaking reforms that will stimulate their participation in global value chains.
The paper highlights that global value chains or GVCs can continue to stimulate growth, create better jobs and reduce poverty, provided that developing countries undertake deeper reforms and that industrialized countries implement open and predictable policies.
It clearly shows that in an era of globalization, companies can no longer do everything, they specialize and no longer have to produce the entirety of a good on their own.
This book assesses the contribution of VCMs to growth, employment and poverty reduction, but also to inequality and environmental degradation. It also explains how national policies can boost trade growth and ensure that VCMs participate in, rather than oppose, sustainable development. It identifies the shortcomings of the international trading system that have led to dissension between countries, and proposes a roadmap for addressing them through enhanced international cooperation.
This report reveals that it is no longer so obvious today that trade remains an engine of prosperity, this World Bank report points out. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, trade growth has been sluggish and VCM expansion has slowed. The last decade has not seen transformative events comparable to those of the 1990s. Here we are referring to the integration of China and Eastern Europe into the global economy. Two factors are at the root of this slowdown. First, the introduction of labour-saving technologies such as automation and 3D printing could bring production closer to the consumer and reduce the demand for labour both within and outside countries. Secondly, trade conflicts between large countries could lead to a contraction or segmentation of VCMs.
According to this report, global value chains have a positive impact on development.
First, they increase productivity and growth: a 1% increase in participation in global value chains is estimated to increase per capita income by more than 1%, almost twice as much as the gains induced by traditional trade. In Ethiopia, companies engaged in these globalized sectors are twice as productive as their counterparts operating in traditional trade.
Second, they reduce poverty: since the impact of the rise of global value chains on economic growth is greater than that of trade in finished products, their impact on poverty reduction is also greater. Countries such as Mexico and Viet Nam, which are more actively involved in global value chains, have achieved better results in the fight against poverty.
Third, they improve the quality of jobs: firms operating in global value chains attract labour to more productive activities in manufacturing and services, and generally employ more women, thus contributing to the structural transformation of developing countries.
In addition to these positive effects, however, it is noted that VCMs can also have negative effects on the environment. The main environmental costs for VCMs are related to the growth in trade in intermediate goods, and the increase in distances travelled, compared to traditional trade. Their effects include increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with transportation (compared to traditional trade) and excess waste.
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