By Amanda-Ellen Jojo
ENTREPRENEURS can be regarded as the wheels of economic growth of any country because they contribute to innovation of new products and services, stimulate employment and acceleration of economic development through contribution to the Gross Domestic Product. However, for their potential to be fully realised, there must be certain factors to be taken into consideration. With regards to that, the Institute of Entrepreneurs Zimbabwe (IOEZ) is set to address and fill the visible entrepreneurship skills gap in most small and medium enterprises.
The Entrepreneurial Magazine Editor Amanda-Ellen Jojo (AJ) had an interview with the Founding CEO of IOEZ, Dr Kudzanai Vere (KV) who examined in greater detail the role of their institution in advocating for sustainable entrepreneurship in Zimbabwe.
Below are the extracts of the interview.
AJ: What inspired the formation of Institute of Entrepreneurs Zimbabwe?
KV: Entrepreneurs are the pillars of any economy and as such there must be deliberate efforts towards making sure that these key players are capacitated and empowered. You will realise that most people who are in business are driven in by the economic situation and a smaller percentage by passion without the requisite knowledge of how to start, support sustain and succeed in these businesses.
Most businesses are failing due to lack of the knowledge as well as the issue of capital.
With the Institute of Entrepreneurs Zimbabwe, members receive continuous entrepreneurship training so that they keep abreast with the current and emergent changes in business. We also have a business development and growth division which works closely with our members and making sure they register some growth as they undertake their businesses.
Most financial institutions are partnering with us to create a community of entrepreneurs who understand prudent financial management principles, a factor which lacks in most small and medium enterprises players.
So, the passion is to see business growing beyond today into the unforeseeable future drove me into starting the Institute of Entrepreneurs Zimbabwe.
AJ: What issues and services does the institution address/offer?
KV: As the Institute of Entrepreneurs Zimbabwe, we have come up with a package that enhances our member business from education, starting, supporting sustaining and succeeding in their entrepreneurship endeavors.
IOEZ with its entrepreneurship revolution is leaving no one behind. We’re enrolling right from Primary School, High school, Universities, Prospective and Current entrepreneurs who really want to make a difference in their businesses.
Policy Advocacy & Research
As a revolutionary and transformational institute, we seek to advocate for policies that support the entrepreneur right from the grass roots since entrepreneurship is pivotal to economic growth and sustainability.
The institute is running its own projects driven by the pool of entrepreneurship scholars on board. We are supporting our students to start, sustain and succeed in their various entrepreneurship projects. We know some of them do not have adequate capital to grow their businesses, we have most of the banks on board to support that.
Stagnation has been and is still a cancer affecting most African businesses Zimbabwe included. We will assist organisations through the co creation of practical business growth models that suit their operating environments.
Economic Development Engagements
Institute of Entrepreneurs Zimbabwe’s aim is to transform entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world at large and by so doing, the number of contributors to the Gross Domestic Product of the country improves and thus the overall economy grows.
AJ: What is the mission and vision of the institution?
KV: Our vision is to be the fountain of entrepreneurship skills in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world at large. Our mission is to transform the business landscape through imparting transformative entrepreneurship skills to the passionate and those prepared to contribute positively the local, national and global economy.
This we will achieve through our mission through; engaging all the those passionate about entrepreneurship and business, engaging schools starting from high school to university, coming up with incubation hubs in every province, mobilisation of resources nationally or internationally to support initiatives, having mutually beneficial networking programs with similar institutes internationally as well as events and business promotion activities.
AJ: Who is eligible to be part of the institution?
KV: We’re taking everyone who is passionate about starting and running their own business now and even in the future. We have seen that even those in primary, secondary, college and universities have shown interest in being part of the revolutionary institute and we have designed some membership packages suitable for each category. We have the aspiring and existing entrepreneurs who are enlightened enough to know that without continuous improvement businesswise, there is no future and growth to talk about.
AJ: Why is entrepreneurial education important?
KV: As an institute we don’t take entrepreneurship education lightly and we have never wanted to assume that people know what they are doing in business. Entrepreneurship education is different from the ordinary business education that people get. This is a kind of education that focuses more on innovation, value addition and uniqueness in approach to business.
Once the masses are educated in entrepreneurship and business, they are better positioned to contribute effectively to the economic emancipation of the country and the rate of unemployment will go down for entrepreneurship creates employment. Entrepreneurship makes our country and self-sustained economy with great export ability and potential.
AJ: What is your take on the economic landscape of Zimbabwe, is it conducive for entrepreneurial activities? How is the institution addressing the challenges that entrepreneurs face?
KV: The Zimbabwean economy has the capacity and potential to grow as there is evident underutilisation of endowments by a greater majority. In addition, the currency issue has confused proper business planning for alternative rate is increasing by the night making it difficult for entrepreneurs to plan. We’re glad that the government is putting in place measures that will see most of the illegal deals causing the currency instability curtailed. Often times real stars shine when it is the darkest. Most successful entrepreneurs where birthed out of economic turbulences. The current economic situation forces entrepreneurs to stop using common sense and move some gears a bit higher. Common sense gives birth to predictable and common results. As the Institute of Entrepreneurs Zimbabwe, we train entrepreneurs survival skills in the face of economic turmoil.