ZimTrade awarded for nurturing youth businesses

 Business Reporter

TRADE development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, has been awarded by the International Trade Centre (ITC) for its successful youth business nurturing and development initiative, Eagle’s Nest Youth Incubator.

The Eagle’s Nest Youth Incubator programme, a high-level enterprise and export development initiative, was launched by ZimTrade in March 2020 to nurture youth-owned businesses from across the country into exporting enterprises.

For its efforts, ZimTrade scooped the first prize for having the best initiative to ensure trade is inclusive and sustainable.

Chief executive officer Mr Allan Majuru said “We are leaving a legacy. Winning an international award is a first for ZimTrade and for the country.”

The awards recognise organisations delivering visionary programmes with value-oriented goals that make economic sense.

ZimTrade contends that often, youth-led companies remain at the resource level of supply chains and young companies need help to move up the supply chain for their own success and to contribute to the national export economy.

In addition to the youth-led export goals, the initiative is meant to inform the public on export practices; expand food and value-added sectors and encourage women in business.

To reach wider audiences with its initiatives, ZimTrade started to film trainings for those who could not participate.

At any given moment ZimTrade selected 100 applicants with export potential for the incubator programme.

Products or services needed to be innovative and able to grow.

ZimTrade looked for companies that showed positive social and environmental impact. A television show was initiated where aspiring entrepreneurs contested against each other in coming up with the best business ideas.

The contest spanned 12 episodes in three phases: Pitch Contest – 100 shortlisted firms learned basic export skills and pitched their business concept to a panel of judges.

A total of 50 companies moved up to phase 2, where they were trained in capacity building, marketing and branding, quality control and financing.

A second pitch contest produced 17 finalists for the next phase, Flight of the Eagle. Local experts advised the finalists on technical expertise and the ZimTrade team chose three winners.

Partners filled gaps in the incubator.

For example, business leaders judged the pitches in the episodes.

Other expert partners mentored finalists in the third phase of the contest.

A partner bank tailored financing for 10 companies during the third phase and the contestants received a package of focused support.

ZimTrade brought the winners to Makoto, Zambia, to exhibit at a trade fair. The finalists continued mentorship with international senior expert organizations Programma Uitzending Managers, the Netherlands and Senior Expert Services, Germany.

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