[EVENT REPORT] ‘Making Africa Work’ – Building bridges and connecting entrepreneurs

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An inspiring afternoon during which the passion and ambition of a diverse group of entrepreneurs, coaches and speakers, was nearly tangible.

By: DAAF BORREN

Making Africa Work Inspiration Event, was the name given to a conference in Amsterdam (mid-April), organized by The Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC). The event is part of a program which will eventually assist 40 entrepreneurs in the development of their business plan. An estimated number of one-hundred ambitious entrepreneurs, varying from young to old, with different backgrounds, lined up for registration. The time waiting was immediately put to use and soon the first business cards were exchanged. After a cup of coffee, everyone gathered in a conference room, ready for an interesting afternoon in a supportive environment.

The conferenceis a joined initiative of NABC, Africa in Motion and PUM, creating an opportunity for entrepreneurs to share ideas, learn about business development and gather valuable advice from the numerous coaches, present for the day. The intention of this event was to assist in the development of a feasible business plan while connecting attending entrepreneurs. Eventually the best 40 business plans will be selected and connected to African entrepreneurs in the countries dealt with during the event (Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda and Sierra Leone).

“We should change our perception from Africa as ‘helpless’ to Africa as an equal business partner”

The afternoon began with several presentations. First speaker of the day was Max Koffi, a coach focusing on intercultural communications and founder of Africa In Motion. In his presentation, he passionately emphasized how we should change our perception of Africa as ‘helpless’ to Africa as an equal business partner. Instead of looking at the continent as hopeless, mr. Koffi sees an emerging market, young men and women who are desperately in need of work, and major business opportunities. In a personal conversation, he once again emphasized how important it is for Europe to change its perception, as Africa is the future and European countries are falling behind in comparison with countries like China, Turkey and Brazil.

Another compelling speech was given by Marina Diboma, who is head of External Affairs and International Cooperation at NABC. This power woman of Cameroonian descent is currently dedicating her life to ‘building bridges’ and creating mutual opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and African countries. When speaking with her personally, she underlined her conviction that the African continent should be approached as an equal player in a changing world. Additionally, Ms. Diboma mentioned that she is highly disappointed in the fact that people of ‘African’ descent are still not involved in Dutch decision-making and policy-planning concerning African countries.

To conclude the afternoon, a slightly comic and creative workshop was organized, during which eight groups, assisted by a coach, where asked to develop a business idea and transform it into a feasible plan. Many creative and original ideas were discussed, mainly focusing on social entrepreneurship, which were ranked by the participating coaches. Obviously, the day ended with a refreshment where, once again, business cards were extensively exchanged.

Altogether, we look back at a successful conference. Aside from providing the attendants with ‘food for thought’ about their ideas, it was great to observe how speakers, coaches and entrepreneurs, passionately advocated for an equal approach of African countries, appreciating the continent as an equal partner.

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