More than ever, 'partnership' is the key word when it comes to sustainable entrepreneurship in Africa. That was the message for the more than 250 participants in the sixth annual conference of Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs.
"Africa needs huge investments to cope with the demographic explosion. Europe and Africa must therefore become partners. We don't just have to send expatriates, we have to support local innovation and go for investments with an impact," said Loic de Cannière, Incofin's managing partner. "The time for expatriates to develop projects is over. In Africa, we need a more fashionable approach based on partnerships and local employment," agreed Bijou Tshiunza, founder of Microdev, which provides microcredit to Congolese market women in Kinshasa. Siemens senior director André Bouffioux referred to the African saying: "If you want to go fast, go out alone. If you want to go far, let's go together. The creation of value and sustainable enterprises must be with Africans, by Africans."
"The biggest challenges are access to the financial market and the development of start-ups to scale-ups," said Rwandan ambassador Amandin Rugira. VUB professor Nicolas Dentchev pointed out that Africa is very entrepreneurial, but that there is a need for a solid ecosystem to strengthen its dynamism." Rector Herman Van Goethem of UAntwerp pointed out that "the growth figures in Africa are huge, which offers enormous opportunities, but the approach should be local, not based on a mainly global model. This was also confirmed by KUL vice rector Chris Van Geet: "There must be locally independent 'ownership'. Europe must play a role in this. The problems in the south are indeed ours too."