‘Let’s export Africa to Germany’ 

Source: ‘Let’s export Africa to Germany’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

By Vanessa Gonye

ZIMBABWEAN-BORN Kumbirai Chipadza was recently nominated to join 40 other young Africans and German business leaders in pioneering a programme dubbed African German Young Leaders in Business (AGYLE).

AGYLE connects young African and German leaders from business, politics and the media to establish a long-term business network and to develop innovative business models.

The goal of AGYLE is to strengthen the African-German dialogue and to lay the foundation for cross-border economic co-operation. AGYLE is a programme of the Agency for Business and Economic Development (AWE) and Germany — Land of Ideas. Chipadza speaks to NewsDay’s Vanessa Gonye (ND).

ND: You were recently nominated to join 39 other young Africans and German business leaders in a pioneering programme, AGYLE, please shed more light about the programme.

KC: Well, the German government through the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ) created the programme to accelerate economic co-operation between Africa and Germany.

In 2017, Germany enacted the Marshall Plan for Africa which incentivises German businesses to venture into Africa but the volume of trade is minimal (2%).

The Marshall Plan for Africa will concentrate on fair trade, increased private investment, bottom-up economic development, entrepreneurship, and job creation and employment.

The plan aims to seek opportunities in Africa that can be presented to German businesses. Data shows that
400 000 German companies are active internationally, but only 1 000 do business in Africa.

ND: How does it feel being recognised from over 300 aspirants that wanted to join AGYLE?

KC: It was a great honour, especially as it is in line with what we do. Being the only person from Zimbabwe and southern Africa also challenges me more to bring value to the region and represent Sadc in a profitable way.

ND: What prospects are there for the country from your recognition and new role?

KC: I am very patriotic and have always believed that Zimbabweans in the diaspora must help solve economic problems back home, and use our knowledge, skills, network and finances gained outside to boost the economy. We need less of politics and more of economics.

I applaud the great work being done by Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency in ease of doing business as well as ZimTrade in empowering and marketing local entrepreneurs globally. I would like to work closely with such organisations in accelerating economic co-operation with Germany.

ND: How are you going to use the opportunity to foster economic cooperation between Africa and Germany?

KC: The president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) told us that most German decision-makers had never been to Africa, so it is difficult for them to envisage the potential of Africa as a new market for Germany.

One of my key goals is to organise start-up safari tours for German businesses in Africa and already, we have lined up one in Namibia for February 2022 in partnership with Namibian Tourism ministry, Start-up Namibia and Base Camp, where the German businesses will spend a week in Swakopmund doing tourism as well as B2B Matchmaking and Market Linkages. We are still looking for partners in Zimbabwe to do a similar one.

We are also organising German ecosystem tours for African businesses and in December. We are receiving a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo, for which we have organised B2B matchmaking, and we will also have market linkages and a tour of Frankfurt with industry experts. We have one for Zimbabwean businesses in May.

Lastly, we need to change the narrative about Africa and collaborating with media platforms such as your own can assist in this.

ND: What is the Deutsch Connect and how does it operate?

KC: Deutsch Connect is a Germany-based Afrocentric consultancy that links African and German businesses and people through B2B matchmaking, market linkages, talent acquisition and investment. We are a member of the Make IT Alliance (biggest tech companies in Germany), IHK Luneburg/Wolsburg, SA German Chamber of Commerce among others. We work with start-up hubs like Berlin Start-up School, leetHub in Hamburg as well as Ignition Hub in Zimbabwe.

ND: How many Zimbabweans have benefited from the Deutsch Connect?

KC: We have trained over 3 500 women and young entrepreneurs in partnership with Afrolynk and Tofara Online via Factory24 Digital Learning Platform.

Currently, we have German language courses and we have placed au pairs and social year volunteers into Germany from Zimbabwe.

We have organised a €100 000 Pitch Investment, for which Zimbabwean start-up Farmhut was selected and pitched.  We also consult on market linkages, B2B matchmaking and investment for a lot of young entrepreneurs through our partnership with BancAbc

ND: When you talk about #smartmigration and #braingainnotbraindrain what exactly do you mean?

KC: This is under our talent acquisition programme, where we provide online Germany language courses for prospective au pairs, social year volunteers, students and skilled persons looking to relocate to Germany.

Germany has a shortage of 400 000 skilled workers per year at the moment and the skilled immigrant visa of March 2020 was enacted to make it easier for skilled immigrants to enter the Germany market. So we want young African talent to come to Germany in a regular manner as well as provide placement for them with reputable companies.

As for the #braingainnotbraindrain, we believe international exposure, knowledge and skills transfer and networks built in the diaspora will also further help improve the African economy.

ND: Please tell us more about your partnership with BancABC

KC: We believe in mentorship, knowledge and skills transfer in order to take our entrepreneurs to global level. We provide mentoring, B2B matchmaking, market linkages and investment opportunities for start-ups from Ignition Hub.

Furthermore, we share information on opportunities in Germany. The Hub concept is very important because there are opportunities to collaborate and co-create with other start-ups

ND: What can the business community look forward to from Deutsch Connect in 2022?

KC: As mentioned before, we will be having start-up safari tours to Africa for German businesses as well as German ecosystem tour for Zimbabwean businesses in May.

We have recently signed a partnership with European Business University of Luxembourg and we have 500 scholarships to give away to Zimbabwean businesspeople especially those that have not had the opportunity to go to university.

Through your publication, we would like to give out 10 scholarships to your readers whom you will choose. Each scholarship is worth €730.