Remarks by U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher Krafft at the BongoHive Entrepreneurship Boot Camp Finale

Lusaka, Zambia November 16, 2018

Messrs. Muyangana and Lindunda, Co-founders of BongoHive, thank you very much for the invitation.  Thank you Emma Christie-Miller and other BongoHive team members for coordinating this program, visiting American trainer Nichelle McCall for being here, boot camp participants, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning.  It is always a pleasure to visit BongoHive because the enthusiasm, energy, and ambition coming from this place are infectious.  Innovation and entrepreneurship are palpable, and I truly believe that the next big thing to come out of Zambia will be thanks to BongoHive.

The U.S. government is committed to promoting entrepreneurship as a means to stimulate local economic growth, create jobs, and increase prosperity.  Since 2015, the U.S. Embassy has been delighted to partner with BongoHive to organize and co-host a series of annual entrepreneurship boot camps to support Zambia’s young entrepreneurs and innovators.  I can think of no better way to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week than being here.  This partnership provides a platform for self-starting innovators and connects entrepreneurs to potential collaborators, mentors, and investors.  Today, we join millions of participants at thousands of events in nearly 170 countries to foster that contagious spirit of entrepreneurship.

As we conclude this 2017/2018 boot camp, I want to underscore that skills training is critical in the development of a viable and thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem.  In the experience of my own country, it’s our considered view that Zambia’s capacity to create jobs, to build wealth, and to reduce poverty depends on the ingenuity, skills, and strategies of its entrepreneurs…not the government.  Together, we have empowered more than 200 young Zambian entrepreneurs over the past year through this skills training program.

Entrepreneurs have participated in pitch sessions at the end of each boot camp with successful pitches winning $1,000 each in seed funding.  These start-ups include Zucchi, a natural hair brand; Safe Motherhood Alliance, a provider of safe birthing kits; and baby wear social enterprise, Papu Babywearing.

Since we launched this year’s boot camp last November, five U.S. business experts have traveled to Zambia and provided hands-on support to boot camp participants, exchanging experiences and knowledge.  These exchanges between Zambian entrepreneurs and U.S. experts have been very interactive and contributed to making the training workshops actionable.  Entrepreneurs have benefitted from in-depth, one-on-one mentoring time that has positively influenced their thinking and business models.

Thank you, Nichelle McCall, all previous American trainers, and you great entrepreneurs for participating in this boot camp program.

Next year, the United States and the Netherlands will co-host the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, bringing together emerging entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters from around the world to share innovative ideas and advance economic growth.  As you take your enterprises to the next level, please consider participating in this summit and stay tuned to our embassy social media platforms for further details.  I wish you all success in your endeavors.  Thank you.