BUJUMBURA September 18th (ABP) – As part of the activities of the week called “Freedom Week”, the Center for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (CDEGL) in partnership with the Burundi Development Agency (ADB) and the chamber of Trade and Industry of Burundi (CFCIB) organized on Friday September 15, 2023 in Bujumbura, the “Youth Business Forum” under the theme: “Entrepreneurship from quantity to quality”.
According to the director of CDEGL, Mr. Aimable Manirakiza, the said forum brought together business leaders, aspiring entrepreneurs, facilitating agencies, incubator houses and other stakeholders from several sectors. The particularity of the entrepreneurs present in that forum was to be driven by the same determination to develop the country through the development of local solutions, according to him.
This year, local and international facilitators will reflect and exchange on the experiences of Burundi and elsewhere, in relation to sustainable and inclusive development strategies and policies that could be applied to Burundi in its march towards emergence. He hopes that at the end of this forum, they will be able to understand the importance of free enterprise in achieving the vision of the Head of State of Burundi, an emerging country in 2040 and developed in 2060.
The Director General of the ADB, Mr. Didace Ngendakumana, said that the overall objective of the forum is to inspire the next generation of start-ups who create local solutions to create employment and employment opportunities in local communities. According to him, the ADB firmly believes in the power of entrepreneurship to transform economic and social realities. Youth ideas, their innovations and their determination are essential to achieve the 2040 – 2060 vision. Young people are the creators of tomorrow, the drivers of economic growth and the future champions of employment in the country. He asked young people to take advantage of this forum to make fruitful connections, continue to innovate, dream big and turn their dreams into realities.
He took that opportunity to give them advice. He asked them to work on themselves, to identify their weaknesses to find solutions, in order to evolve towards productive entrepreneurship. “You have to overcome challenges, know how to be resilient, look for possible solutions instead of giving up. You also need to know how to communicate with all stakeholders such as the ADB, the BBN, the PAEEJ, the BIJE, the administration, when challenges arise, in order to see if we can find solutions together. You must have the ability to innovate, be creative, know how to market products, have knowledge of money management, have a professionally drawn up business plan, do research because the business world is dynamic, concentrate and work hard,” he advised them.
For his part, the coordinator of PAEEJ, Professor Désiré Manirambona said that among the challenges that handicap entrepreneurship in Burundi is the lack of entrepreneurial culture because entrepreneurship is a recent concept in Burundi. He also mentioned the fact that Burundians are not happy with the success of their brothers; do not like to consume local products, the difficulties of certifying products because the criteria are difficult to meet at the beginning, the corruption of certain state managers, the illiterate population and others.
He insisted on the change in mentality of Burundians, and knowing how to seize opportunities whenever they present themselves.
In his presentation on “entrepreneurship in Africa, quality is better than quantity for real emergence”, Professor Hicham El Moussaoui indicated that in Africa, we are interested in the number of companies created instead of focus on businesses already created, whether they meet the needs of the population, how they create jobs, how they fit into the entire system. According to him, the quality of the entrepreneur matters in the sense that when we have more economic growth, we create more wealth, we reduce poverty more quickly; we will reduce social and territorial inequalities. He insisted on favoring productive entrepreneurship instead of relying on the number of companies. We must also attract the best foreign investors who will have a positive impact, with the creation of industries and jobs, instead of opening the doors and giving exemptions which bring nothing to the Burundian economy.
He also clarified that we must prioritize support more than financing because sometimes people need guidance. They must also create structures for support and sustainability to help companies reach maturity.
The young entrepreneurs who were present in this session raised certain challenges. They cited unfair competition, difficulties in importing raw materials including machinery and packaging. They asked the ADB to help small businesses by granting them exemption to purchase the raw materials they need. For her part, the head of the communications unit at the ADB, Mrs. Antonine Ciza, indicated that there is a draft decree currently being finalized which provides for certain facilities in terms of exemption for young people and women entrepreneurs.