Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote at the Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit Opening Ceremony

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote at the
Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit Opening Ceremony
New Government Complex, Lusaka, Zambia
May 14, 2019

(as prepared for delivery)

Honorable Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Commerce, Trade, and Industry
Honorable Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Zambia
Fellow Colleagues in the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
Members of the media
All other protocols observed

Thank you, Nambula, for your welcoming remarks and your outstanding leadership as WECREATE’s Executive Director.  I admire your dedication to creating viable opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship in Zambia, and the U.S. government remains honored to have you as a partner.

The U.S. government is committed to promoting entrepreneurship as a means to stimulate local economic growth, create jobs, and increase prosperity.  The ability to turn an idea into a reality through a small business or new venture is a path to prosperity and empowers people to tackle pressing community and global problems.

In Zambia, entrepreneurs have an essential role to play in this country’s development.  Their successful businesses will be a central facet in diversifying Zambia’s economy, an economic goal of the Zambian government.  Entrepreneurship creates a culture in which innovation and creativity are valued and lead to original solutions to life’s challenges.

The Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit puts entrepreneurs in the same room as the investors, lenders, business associations, and organizations that serve as resources to SMEs and entrepreneurs.  We want Zambia’s entrepreneurs to access tools, capital, networking opportunities, and mentors that can help to take those great business ideas to the next level and beyond.

Our commitment to promoting Zambian entrepreneurship does not begin or end today.  Since 2015, the U.S. Embassy has worked with business innovation hub BongoHive on an entrepreneurship bootcamp series that has intensively challenged entrepreneurs over a six-month period to refine business start-up ideas.

In February, the White House announced the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative to advance women’s economic empowerment worldwide.  As part of this initiative, the U.S. Embassy, WECREATE, and BongoHive will soon officially launch the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs.  We look forward to helping aspiring Zambian female entrepreneurs develop their own business plans, understand how to raise capital, and connect with networks of successful business owners.

Looking ahead to the June Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in the Netherlands, we strive to make good on the 2019 theme of the Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit—Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Future Now, Leaving No One Behind.  The United States and the Kingdom of the Netherlands look forward to welcoming impressive entrepreneurs and investors from around the world to the GES.  In fact, I wish to congratulate our good friend Ceaser Siwale, CEO of Pangaea Securities and one of today’s high-level panelists, for being invited as an investor to attend the Finance Forum and other investor-related activities at the GES.  Ceaser’s reputation as a leading mind in Zambia’s financial arena precedes him, and his participation at the GES stands to benefit Zambia at large.  We look forward to seeing some of Zambia’s finest entrepreneurs join him.

The U.S. Embassy continues to identify promising young Zambian entrepreneurs to participate in our professional exchange programs, including the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship this year.  Our exchange programs are a cornerstone of our U.S.-Zambia programs.  You can learn more about exchange programs and other U.S. Embassy programs for entrepreneurs at the embassy information stand here.

Zambia has many pioneering entrepreneurs who are ready to take risks, put forth innovative ideas, and follow their dreams of improving their lives and the lives of their communities.  However, they need a stable and conducive business climate to get their ideas off the ground.

Zambia presents numerous investment opportunities with young entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic, energetic, and ambitious.  Zambia will benefit more from its enterprising and dynamic youth and women entrepreneurs if entrepreneurs and the private sector are enabled to grow and flourish.

Entrepreneurs and investors, lenders, and resource organizations have a unique opportunity today.  The 2019 Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit is the ideal platform expressly created to help you do business deals, and meet possible lenders, partners and investors.  Network with potential investors.  Connect with fellow entrepreneurs and innovators.  Identify and invest in a good business idea.

At this time, I would like to give special recognition to our visiting U.S. speaker, Victoria Silchenko, who traveled all the way from the west coast of the United States to be with us and share her expertise on entrepreneurship and access to capital.  In coming to Zambia, she is making her first trip to Africa, and we will see her in action with our other esteemed experts on the high-level panel discussion and at the “Access to Finance” workshop.  I would also like to recognize Leslie Bradshaw, our virtual U.S. speaker, who will participate in the Female Founders Forum this afternoon.

Of course, this summit would not be possible without our partners,  WECREATE, the American Chamber of Commerce, Atlas Mara Bank, and Dutch NGO Hivos.  A special thanks also goes to the Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit sponsors, whose support for the event benefits the WECREATE Zambia Center and its women entrepreneur participants.  One of the sponsors, Atlas Mara, came in at the “WECREATE Champion Level.”  Thank you also to “WECREATE Partner Level” sponsors:  Hivos, National Pension Scheme Authority, German Agency for International Cooperation, My Bucks, ZISC life, PAREZA, Lusaka Stock Exchange, Supreme Oil, Three@1 (PostDotNet), Infinite, Vintage, Block House, Fotress Media, Pound Stretcher, Rooney’s, Orca Décor, Prudential, and Liquid Telecom.  Finally, thank you to all speakers and exhibitors.

I wish all entrepreneurs, innovators, and exhibitors a fruitful interaction at this summit and beyond.