ACP YPN Conference on entrepreneurship and development

On the 6th of June ACP YPN, in collaboration with World Solidarity Forum (WSF), held its first conference on entrepreneurship and development. Disrupting the momentum, ACP YPN and WSF put at the centre of the conference Young entrepreneurs from ACP & Asia-Pacific, and put the decision-makers in the “hot seat”.  Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Secretary General, had the honour of moderating this exchange between MEP Cecile Kyenge; his excellency Mr. Paw Lwin Sein, Ambassador of Myanmar to BENELUX and the European Union; Mr. Eric Owusu Nimako, representative of EWALA; Ms. Cynthia Mukendy, Founder of African Gist; Mr. Artur Safaryan, Co-founder of Empasco; Mr. Okka Phyo Maung, Consultant & Entrepreneur; Mr. Lex Tan,CEO & Founder of MotionsCloud; Ms. Sarah Batool Haider, freelance journalist & Mr. Maximim Emagna, Expert in charge of Private Sector at the ACP Secretariat. The other innovative elements of the conference were the interventions coming from New York, London & Myanmar from Youth Diaspora entrepreneurs who used to live in Belgium.

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In her opening remark, MEP Cecile Keyenge explained that the term “development” was not neutral because of its relations to power issues concerning both the donor and the recipient countries. Furthermore, she argued that it is difficult to speak of development without considering the resources of a given territory and the education of its population – two factors which are clearly linked with entrepreneurship. See her full intervention here.

His Excellency Mr. Paw Lwin Sein, Ambassador of Myanmar to BENELUX and the European Union, highlighted Myanmar cooperation with the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in different domains, such as security, economic development, education, and youth entrepreneurship. The last two areas are of particular importance to Myanmar, having a very young population themselves. See his full intervention here.

Mr. Eric Owusu Nimako, presented the link between the ventures of EWALA – a company providing mobile money transfer services – and the positive impact and contribution that they have in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. He explained that companies were very innovative in this sector, especially in Africa, even though there are more mobile phones than people. He highlighted the fact that his company charges no fees to send money, and concluded by saying that in order to make development really sustainable, it is not more aid that is needed, but instead more investment. See his full intervention here.

Ms Cynthia Mukendy presented her social venture African gist which aims to help the diaspora who are willing to go back to work in their country of origin to understand the African environment thanks to her broad network of contacts. See and listen to her full intervention here.

Mr. Lex-Tan connected with us through skype from the United States. Being himself a CEO and Founder of a small insurance technology company, he bestowed to young entrepreneurs like himself some advice on how to be successful: first of all, never give up and take action. You can have brilliant ideas but they may be useless if you do not know how to realize them. Secondly, you should be supported by a good team, and thirdly, you must be able to learn from your failures, which are likely to happen. See his full intervention here

Ms Sarah Batool Haider, a Pakistani journalist, explained that the current situation of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan has now evolved in a positive way, providing them with a lot of new opportunities compared to a couple of years ago when they were heavily oppressed. However, she asked that more attention be given to rural areas and to conflict-affected zones. See her full intervention here.

Artur Safaryan provided a presentation on the theory of change that they have developed in EMPASCO. Explaining the importance of developing sustainable solutions through viable internationals partnerships. See his full intervention here

Okka Phyo Maung shared his experience of when he came to Brussels and his transition from BE to Myanmar. He explained that the training and education that he received helped him to reintegrate into the Myanmar social and economic circles, which in turn helped him to come up with his recycling business to improve recycling methods in Myanmar. see his full intervention here

Mr. Maximin Emagna explained the work that the ACP secretariat is doing and the opportunities that are now available, and being made available, to young ACP entrepreneurs. He also spoke of the possibility to start working with ACP YPN to help integrate into the future ACP strategy a Diaspora Youth element. See his full intervention here.

Through this conference young entrepreneurs were able to talk about their ventures, as well as the difficulties they are facing, used to face, and the solutions that they would like to see be implemented to support their development. Celine Fabrequette concluded by saying that “the issue here is that Young entrepreneurs are not aware of the opportunities and support that are available to them, and so the way to communicate opportunities must change. It is a matter of equality and inclusion”. MEP Cecile Kyenge agreed and proposed that at the upcoming AU-EU Youth Summit, a side event be developed where youth could be made aware of all the financial support available at EU, ACP, and AU level.  Since the conference, ACP YPN submitted this idea to the Youths group organising the AU-EU Youth Summit in Abidjan.

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