At the end of May, Riga Business School lecturers traveled to Zambia to conclude the first year of the “She Rebuilds the World” Young Entrepreneurs Programme, with sixty-seven ambitious women from Zambia and Namibia graduating from the program. As Latvia’s first educational and economic cooperation project with Africa, it was jointly developed by Riga Business School as a unit of Riga Technical University, Latvian diaspora experts from the #esiLV movement, and partners from Africa. The project is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (within the scope of the project).
“She Rebuilds the World” was launched last September, where women from Namibia and Zambia participated in entrepreneurship boot camps to strengthen women’s involvement in entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, the participants began a four-month certification course on entrepreneurship online at Riga Business School, led by Professor Mike Wells. The course was taught alongside other students from the school, creating a highly diverse environment for generating global business ideas and developing unique contacts. During the course, participants and students produced start-up concepts such as an alternative seaweed fertilizer to promote sustainable farming practices, a software that would allow patients in Zambia’s hospitals and clinics to easily order basic necessities, including medicines and food via their mobile phones, and the development of a project unprecedented in Africa – the introduction of hydroponic farming techniques.
At the end of the “She Rebuilds the World” program, the participants received certificates for successfully completing the course. In Zambia, the closing ceremony also featured a women’s leadership discussion with #esiLV Board Member Ieva Jākobsone Bellomi and three women leaders from Zambia. This project allowed young people from Europe and Africa to gain a deeper understanding of the international business labor market. It also provided an opportunity to share and learn best practices. The project allowed young women entrepreneurs to look at entrepreneurship differently and helped those who were already business owners to develop faster and gain exposure.
Martha Mache, one of the brightest participants who will help coordinate the expansion of the cooperation project to Zimbabwe and CEO of her own digital marketing company: “Before I joined the program in October 2022, I faced several challenges such as marketing, brand development and positioning my company in the market. During the online course, I learned how to use artificial intelligence to my advantage, such as ChatGPT. I also made contact with a female entrepreneur who helped me develop my own network. I also learned that business development is a long-term process that requires learning and improving. This helped me to become a critical thinker. My entrepreneurial journey continues!”
Claudio Rivera, incoming Director of Riga Business School and manager of this cooperation project from Riga Business School: “Africa, with its abundant resources, untapped markets and growing middle class, offers a wealth of opportunities. Europe, with its technological advances and established markets, offers knowledge and experience. In the interconnection of these two continents, we find the potential for ground-breaking collaboration, unique solutions, and shared prosperity. Zambia is a land of extraordinary potential. It is a nation blessed with talent, creativity, and an unparalleled drive to succeed. Each of the project participants embodies the spirit of this great country. Their achievements are a testament to this spirit!”
Ieva Jākobsone Bellomi, #esiLV Board Member: “The #esiLV team is pleased with the progress of the first “She Rebuilds the World” Latvian pilot project on the African continent. We are delighted that Latvian economic, business, and sustainability experts have shared Latvia’s development experience and perspectives with 147 colleagues from Zambia and Namibia, thus contributing to and supporting the successful development of these countries. It is also gratifying to note that over the past eight months, 76 young and aspiring African entrepreneurs have been trained in entrepreneurship under the guidance of Riga Business School, and 67 women entrepreneurs have successfully completed a certified study course. The project has already seen practical results in registering new businesses, creating new products, and strengthening new ideas for intercontinental cooperation. This is what the #esiLV team sees as the most significant achievement of the project – cooperation, intercultural understanding, and personal networking in a North-South geographic dimension. This is how we can make the world a more understanding, sustainable and inclusive place. #esiLV is also pleased to have embarked on a wonderful journey together with our colleagues from Riga Business School to build Latvia’s image as an innovative, creative, knowledge-based country on the continent of the future – Africa!”
Riga Business School, as Riga Technical University, aims to build an internationally connected community of people who have ambitious goals and want to develop their regions. Partners from Africa are the next step toward making a large-scale impact. The project will continue into its second year with plans to expand to Zimbabwe. The program will evolve and include workshops on agricultural businesses and entrepreneurial leadership, as well as “train the trainer.” Long-term cooperation with these countries is already being negotiated, and a mobility agreement for student and teacher exchanges has been reached.
The project is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, with funding from development cooperation projects administered by the Ministry.