The drive to establish a fund to assist youth entrepreneurs has excited business leaders who have pledged about US$50 000 and furniture worth US$7 000, for starters, to kick-start the fund-raising process.
Private and public sector executives attending the “Young Chief Executive officers (CEOs)” business forum in Inyanga last week, made the pledges as they stressed the need to boost youth-run ventures.
The proposed fund will be officially launched on a date to be advised.
The CEO Africa Round-table, a high-level platform for corporate chief executive officers, senior executives, in both private and public sector, organised the forum under the theme: “Rethinking entrepreneurship in a fast-changing world: new approaches, fresh opportunities”.
During engagements CEO Africa Round-table board member, Kenias Mafukidze, proposed that corporates must come up with a venture capital fund for young entrepreneurs.
“Why not start a fund not in tomorrow or in the near future but today. If corporates here can put something like US$50 000 on the table it can be a foundation, which can even raise the funds to about US$ 100 000 to put the young entrepreneurs dream into action,” he suggested.
“With about 50 people here if each can say l pledge US$1 000 and with the various experts here from lawyers, financers, financial advisers, CEOs, managing directors among others we can start this fund and do it properly.”
Those present, including virtual participants immediately started making pledges in response and these totalled US$ about 49 000 and furniture worth US$ 7 000.
Some offered their services to train entrepreneurs for free, render resource mobilisation, law expertise, technological initiatives, banking services, venture capital raising and financing assistance, among others.
“Today can mark the day we started the venture and change the profile of this country. In the next two to three months, we can then start to call upon youths who have ideas that need funding throughout the whole country,” said Mafukidze.
He proposed that a board be set after the meeting to look at how the fund will work and formulate a structure of putting the idea into practice. Mafukidze said venture capital initiatives were critical for Zimbabwe to unlock wider economic potential among the youths.
“By the time this business forum ends we are looking to having pledges way above US$50 000. As it has been said earlier by Lance Mambondiani, the time of the youths is now.
“This is the time for them to develop initiatives that will see them far in the future,” he added.
CEO Africa Roundtable chief executive officer, Kipson Gundani, said the pledges could exceed US$50 000.
“What was pledged here in Nyanga cannot be a true indication of what the size of the fund can be. This was just an initial call that we made to the delegates to say if you talk to many young entrepreneurs one of their biggest concerns is access to capital,” he said.
“But here we are CEOs, business leaders and if we can work together, we can pull up resources and invest in young people.
“Today we raised around US$49 000 but these are pledges and secondly the idea is to run a very big fund with other corporates around the country joining forces.”