The first Kinshasa International Forum, #KINFOR16, at the Hotel Beatrice in Kinshasa on the 26 and 27th of January, 2016, is bringing together seven hundred entrepreneurs from Africa, America, Asia and Europe to meet with Congolese innovators and the large companies which operate within the country, aiming to foster new relationships and opportunities through business to business meetings, informal sessions and thematic workshops. The forum is organized jointly by a Belgian organization called Africa Rise and the Democratic Republic of Congo Conseil Economique et Social – C.E.S.
Africa Rise is dedicated to the social and economic development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and they are already known for their ABBW, Africa Belgium Business Week. They firmly believe that the emergence of a stronger, more capable nation is to be reached through business networking and the sharing of ideas and expertise.
The Conseil Economique et Social is a think tank. They are built up from players within the Congolese society such as employers, workers, NGOs, religious leaders, scientists and bankers. Their role is to advise upon issues chosen for them by the presidency and the state.
The spirit of African Business
Africa in general, and the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular, is no stranger to entrepreneurial spirit and business innovation. The country however has had many years of struggle and while things are improving there are still significant challenges to be met.
Here the entrepreneurial spirit is not something reserved for business people or the creative industries; here the basics of business innovation and entrepreneurship are the very stuff of survival. From Benedict Mundele, the twenty one year old woman from Kinshasa who is aiming to provide a healthy and sustainable lifestyle through Surprise Tropical which she founded at the tender age of sixteen, to Abraham Kazadi, who sells fermented tea in Goma in the troubled east of the country to people in his local community, the spirit of business innovation runs high.
A helping hand where most needed
A forum for these innovators may help to enable the Democratic Republic of Congo to emerge both economically and socially from the troubled haze which has for so long hampered the development of the country. A chance to meet and exchange ideas and experiences with business people from all over the world will be an invaluable asset to the youth of the DRC, where seventy percent of the population is under twenty five.
“It is our strong commitment and a will to contribute to the emergence of a dynamic entrepreneurial scene in Democratic Republic of Congo” said Binta Sagna, Communication Director of Africa Rise.
An interesting idea aimed at just these young innovators is a project called #Kinpitch. As the name suggests this project allows entrepreneurs to pitch their idea, dragon’s den style, to a worldwide panel of business leaders and idea shapers. The seven finalists will be invited to the international forum and be given a year-long mentorship to realize the potential of their ideas.
The First International Forum is a platform for enablement for a troubled but resource-rich nation and hopefully the first of many.