After a successful first edition in Dakar last year, Cotonou hosted the second edition of the international forum on entrepreneurship on 9 and 10 November. The theme of the two-day event was “Towards innovative and sustainable entrepreneurship”. It brought together more than 300 people from various backgrounds to share experiences and business opportunities between Benin and Quebec.
To stimulate the entrepreneurial capacity of young Beninese and encourage them to become more entrepreneurial, to promote entrepreneurial know-how by creating solid links with the African continent, to encourage networking and the sharing of experiences between the various players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and to develop a partnership between Canada and Benin These are the primary motivations of the International Forum on Entrepreneurship which ended yesterday, Thursday 10 November 20222 at the Palais des Congrès in Cotonou. Organised in Benin by the Quebec General Delegation in Dakar, the Forum’s mission is to be a source of impetus for entrepreneurship on the African continent.
Thus, in a context where thousands of young people and women are knocking on the door of the labour market without hope of finding immediate answers, entrepreneurship appears to be one of the solutions to reinforce the employability of young people. However, for this entrepreneurship to flourish and become a source of wealth for nations, innovation is needed.
For Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, Minister of State in charge of coordinating government action, who presided over the closing ceremony, “the promotion of youth entrepreneurship and innovation is an essential dimension of the government’s action program. By way of illustration, the minister says, training and innovation which is driven by Sèmè-city and the consolidated support for SMEs. He also reiterated his availability and that of his peers to support young entrepreneurs with innovative projects.
The work of this 2nd edition of the international forum on entrepreneurship ended with an entrepreneurial competition that highlighted Beninese innovation. 20 selected young entrepreneurs presented their projects. Among them, 6 were awarded scholarships. After deliberation by the jury, the first prize was awarded to Nicole Tossou Fagla in the Young Entrepreneur category. She wins a $1000 scholarship with a business project acceleration trip to Quebec. Carpus Aisso is the 2nd winner with a grant of $5000.
The need to start a business
According to Iya Touré, Quebec’s Delegate General in Dakar, innovation is important in the development of entrepreneurship. Indeed, statistics predict that by 2050, Africa’s population will be over 2 billion and over 70% will be under the age of 35. As a result, “African youth will become important. We need to keep these young people busy by creating jobs. Entrepreneurship is not the only solution, but one of the solutions to help African youth to take charge of their lives, to create jobs and businesses that will stay for a long time,” he said.
For him, it is important for Beninese youth to go to the Quebec school of entrepreneurship. Because, according to him, young innovative companies have been multiplying in Quebec for years. The Quebec economy, he says, is 80% small and medium-sized enterprises. He therefore urged young Beninese entrepreneurs to seize business opportunities.
This means that young people have an important role to play in enabling Benin’s immense entrepreneurial potential to flourish. It should be noted that the forum received the active and constant support of the Belgian Development Agency (Enabel).