EMPRETEC Africa Forum to receive assistance from Commonwealth Secretariat

20 July 2012

At the request of a number of African countries, the Commonwealth Secretariat has agreed in principle to support EMPRETEC centres in African Commonwealth countries with the aim of strengthening business development services offered by these centres.

Consultations will be taking place between national coordinators and the Commonwealth Secretariat with the good offices of UNCTAD on the details of the projects to be covered. The beneficiary countries would be all the countries in Africa which have an EMPRETEC centre and are part of the Commonwealth, namely: Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

EMPRETEC is a United Nations programme established by UNCTAD's Division of Investment and Enterprise to promote the creation of sustainable, innovative and internationally competitive small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The programme is implemented through national centres established in 33 countries around the world, and is coordinated by Ms. Fiorina Mugione, Chief of the Entrepreneurship Section, under the supervision of Ms. Tatiana Krylova, Head of the Enterprise Branch.

The name EMPRETEC – the Spanish acronym for emprendedores (entrepreneurs) and tecnología (technology) – was first introduced in Argentina in 1988. Since its inception, the EMPRETEC programme has assisted more than 240,000 entrepreneurs through local market-driven business support centres – helping to found or expand businesses, and creating thousands of jobs in the process.

At the heart of the EMPRETEC service is the EMPRETEC Training Workshop programme. This promotes a methodology of behavioural change that helps entrepreneurs put their ideas into action and helps fledgling businesses to grow. Training is delivered by 600 local certified trainers and by a pool of approximately 60 international master trainers. All trainers are also entrepreneurs.

In addition to the training workshops, business forums are organized by EMPRETEC nationally, regionally and internationally.

EMPRETEC offers entrepreneurs:
  • A “one-stop-shop”: The EMPRETEC National Centres provide a wide range of training and business-development services.

  • A life bond: The Empretecos associations (the trainees’ peer network) bring together successful, committed entrepreneurs.

  • Networking and mentoring: Trainers share their training methodology and evaluation tools, run “train the trainers” sessions and offer mentoring.

  • Local certified trainers: Training is delivered locally in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Swahili.

At a meeting in Geneva in November 2006, African EMPRETEC representatives decided to set up a regional networking initiative, the EMPRETEC Africa Forum, to reinvigorate the EMPRETEC programme in Africa.

Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Uganda took the lead to strategize with colleagues from the continent on the best ways to mobilize resources, establish an effective communication and marketing strategy, and ensure the consolidation of existing programmes and the creation of new country programmes in Africa with the support of UNCTAD.

The EMPRETEC Africa Forum (EAF) was officially launched at the UNCTAD XII conference in Accra, Ghana in April 2008.

The chair of the Forum rotates periodically. Currently, Ghana holds the Chair under Mr. Nana Tweneboa-Boateng. Several projects are in process, including a project on textiles and garments for West Africa in which Ethiopia, Benin and Ghana are a part. Upon the initiative of Nigeria, the Forum will also be developing a project with the United Bank of Africa.

EAF's action plan for 2012-2014 on which discussions could possibly be held with the Commonwealth Secretariat, includes the following strategic goals:

  1. Providing a platform for the development of business alliances through promotions and exhibitions.

  2. Developing links with African Universities and using this as a base for enhanced visibility, research works and entrepreneurship promotion among younger generations.

  3. Launching a regional internship and trainee programme with the support of identified Universities, entrepreneurs’ database and all African EMPRETEC Centres to encourage regional collaboration and sharing of knowledge.

  4. Identifying and promoting Africa as a place to invest to African Diaspora around the world.