The national trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade has launched Eagles Nest, a contest aimed to nurture youth-owned businesses from across the country to exporting enterprises.
The businesses in the southern region are set to benefit from high-level enterprise and export development training sessions aimed at unlocking higher value earnings.
A panel of judges from Zimtrade is in Bulawayo to evaluate and select export ready youth-owned businesses in the southern region, which covers Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, the Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
Through training and mentorship, the 100 selected participants from across Zimbabwe, are set to grow their business and their vision beyond Zimbabwe. Out of the 50 successful applications in the southern region, the “eagles” are tasked with selecting 20 businesses that can be developed for export.
Since the unveiling of the Eagles Nest programme in March this year only 100 participants were chosen from over 200 applications across the country, with over 100 applications received in the southern region.
Among the judges is Thubelihle Ndlovu, the founder and managing director of Portify, a financial services company, Thamsanqa Siwela, a partner for PNA, Gerald Zhou, the managing director for Inclusive Financial services and Tatenda Karimazondo the director for Longfield farm, one of the biggest exporters of flower in Zimbabwe.
ZimTrade in an update said, “There is room to capitalize on this momentum as some of the local youth-led businesses have been performing well on the local market and show potential to take part in the export market,”
“The youth incubation programme is divided into three phases. In the final phase 10 out of 100 youth-led companies will be chosen to participate in various training and interventions to capacitate them for the export markets.
“After receiving support, the 10 youth-owned SMEs will contest in the national final were the overall winner will be selected.”
The winner of the Eagles Nest progamme would receive support from ZimTrade to attend trade fairs in ideal markets specific to their products and six-month expert intervention from PUM and SES organizations. This is expected to ensure their businesses scale up and improve the product competitiveness on the export markets.
ZimTrade said the programme would take place annually and urged youth owned businesses to anticipate the call for applications and take part.
“The youths are a major demographic and it is important that they are considered in taking an active role in growing Zimbabwe’s exports,” said the agency.
ZimTrade export development manager and head of the Eagles Nest programme, Tatenda Marume, said the export world is now dominated by micro-multinational companies hence the need to ensure local SMEs are well equipped to contribute to the trend and reap the same profits.
According to the World Trade Organisation, 44 percent of the world’s entrepreneurs are between the ages of 18- 35, and in Zimbabwe most SMEs are made up of young people who are increasingly showing interest in various business ventures.
“We know that the southern region has a lot of talented youths who can contribute much to the export sector in Zimbabwe, we are excited to see this business being developed into key export enterprises that will work toward improving the economy of Zimbabwe in the near future.” said Mr Zhou.
Africa has the fastest growing youth population in the world, with approximately 60 percent of its population under the age of 24, according to the United Nations.