Wanted: entrepreneurs: S/GP leads delegation to Tanzania.
Since the launch of the POD initiative last year, similar delegations have traveled to Colombia, Ireland and Burma to focus on entrepreneurship and investment, diaspora engagement, social entrepreneurship and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) topics. Each POD's mission is determined by the preferences of the local community visited, which creates local ownership and accountability.
PODs bring together individuals and organizations that may not have had the opportunity to meet, discuss ideas and collaborate. According to Mickey Bergman, executive director of Aspen Institute's Global Alliances Program, the aim is "to unleash the potential of businesses and investments in new markets and communities around the world. By lowering the costs of engagement and increasing access for small and social enterprises and investors, we enhance economic empowerment and social change."
S/GP has worked with the Aspen Institute on several PODs and the partnerships they engender, Bergman said, take advantage of "the Aspen Institute's capacity as a leading nonprofit convener as well as the Department's credibility and access."
PODs are prime examples of public-private networking, drawing on each side's unique strengths so that they may achieve more together than they could separately. Joe Wozniak, an ITC program manager who took part in the Tanzania POD, agreed, noting that his organization, a joint UN-World Trade Organization agency, focuses on connecting small and medium-size enterprises with markets. "To make this work, partnerships are fundamental," he observed.
The Tanzania POD focused on entrepreneurship and opportunities for startup enterprises for several reasons. According to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Outreach in the Bureau of Public Affairs, David Duckenfield, who helped lead the POD, "The African ecosystem is particularly ready for high-tech startups, and real startups are already being created in Africa on an impressive scale."
The POD effort fits with other Department initiatives for Africa, such as the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). "By supporting, inspiring and challenging African innovators and entrepreneurs through initiatives like these, we are cultivating an innovation ecosystem that enables growth and facilitates new investments," Duckenfield said.
During the Tanzania POD, the delegation traveled to Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo and Zanzibar, where they discussed the investment climate with local leaders, helped mentor growing and high-impact Tanzanian enterprises, considered potential projects and partnerships with private sector leaders and visited with local communities, manufacturers and small business owners.
A highlight of the POD was the "Boomcamp" in Dar es Salaam, an effort undertaken by members of S/GP's network of volunteer entrepreneurship mentors worldwide. Boomcamps provide targeted mentoring and training for small businesses and startups, supply them with a range of tools and strategies to build confidence, and help expand their operations and enter new markets.
The delegation was also hosted by afriCoderDojo, a flagship initiative under S/ GP's LIONS@FRICA partnership that aims to strengthen the continent's entrepreneurial environment. An offshoot of the global CoderDojo movement, afriCoderDojo introduces youth to computer skills by teaching them to code and develop websites and games. George Mulamula, CEO of DTBi and founder of afriCoderDojo Tanzania, said his group was involved in the project because its mission is "to catalyze and enable the tech entrepreneurship sector."
S/GP's afriCoderDojo project is expanding rapidly. With partners, DTBi has created a permanent afriCoderDojo presence at the Kijitonyama Primary School. Community volunteers will run the program, which will be open after school hours to all students in the city. "The afriCoderDojo program will go a long way towards ensuring young people, especially females, have the necessary computer skills, education and drive to compete in tomorrow's integrated marketplace," Mulamula added.
S/GP is proud of the success of this latest POD. The delegations are not onetime efforts, but always spawn follow-up conversations and events. S/GP recently learned that one startup enterprise at the Tanzania Boomcamp received $30,000 in investment funding because the POD brought the right people together. The Department's Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Andrew O'Brien, said his office excitedly awaits all the accomplishments that will come from the connections made and ideas discussed on the trip.
New PODs are already being scheduled for next year. S/GP's partners are interested in potential trips to Ethiopia, Ghana, Cyprus and Armenia, and the office continues to seek new topics and countries of interest, all with the aim of promoting U.S. business connections and local economic development.
As Secretary of State John Kerry put it at the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur: "We're going to create an environment where people can easily form personal relationships and network with people from every background and every expertise."
Partnership Opportunity Delegations will continue to do just that.
To learn more about PODs and S/ GP, visit the office's website or contact email@example.com.
By Abael Solomon, partnerships coordinator, Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships
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|Date:||Jan 1, 2015|
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