Global Cooperative Entrepreneurs (GCE) is an innovative mentoring programme that brings together young entrepreneurs with a brilliant coop idea with mentors from both the cooperative movement and youth organisations. The GCE programme not only generates a global network of like-minded people, but it also works as a catalyser of new ideas to support young entrepreneurs to make their coop dream come true. It is an initiative by the ICA-EU Partnership (#coops4dev), inspired by the CoopStarter 2.0 Erasmus+ funded project coordinated by Cooperatives Europe.
Find out more about the programme in this brand-new webpage!
Meet some of the GCE youth ambassadors and mentors! Today we talk with Wisdom!
Description of your start-up idea
I would like to undertake a lucrative solar project. The project would be an alternative to hydro-electricity that is not well supplied in all provinces of Zimbabwe.The solar project aims at providing temporary or permanent energy solutions to marginalized communities in Zimbabwe – settled in urban slums and rural areas. This project is working towards Sustainable Development Goal 7, which has been developed to ensure smart renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources for all.
Explain us a bit why you chose this particular project? What elements made you think that there is a niche business and a social need for this service?
This solar project provides solutions to energy and economic challenges experienced in Zimbabwe. For example, in many slums and rural areas, marginalized communities do not have access to electricity, which leads to a dependence on unclean sources of energy that are contributing to climate change. The aspect that convienced me the most is the fact that a well-installed solar system can last up to 25 years, which means that you do not have to pay for electricity during 25 years. In addition, a solar system is easy to maintain and it can power irrigation schemes or many other economic activities. It thus benefits the economy at large.
How will your project benefit your community?
This project will benefit the community to a great extent because many young people are going to be employed under the project as solar installers and sellers. We trainers on renewable energies we are going to give them. Additionally, community members will also have access to sustainable and affordable energy. We are going to not only train our staff on renewable energies, but also we will teach community members on how to do basic solar installations via both online and offline training sessions. We will also provide internship programs for the young people who are passionate about renewable energies.
When you start up a business project in your country, what are in your opinion the most important elements to facilitate the accomplishment of your project (e.g. a mentoring service, access to finance, a supportive regulation, bureaucracy)?
Access to finance.
What are the main challenges that you have encountered/are encountering to move on?
We are experiencing a slow down in the operations as a consecuence of the movement limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting your GCE agenda? If so, how is it impacting and what measures are you taking to continue with your start-up idea?
Yes, the pandemic is impacting our GCE agenda. As the movements and gatherings are banned, our actions to share our GCE vision with the general audience and stakeholders are affected. However, we have embraced online marketing platforms, bought advanced personal protective equipments (PPEs) and we are carefully following all preventive measures and upgrading our machines so that they meet today’s standards when it comes to communication.
Is the cooperative model offering more elements of resilience to cope with the current COVID-19 crisis than other types of business models?
What is your projection for the near future?
My projection in the future is that I become a leader in the promotion of the solar industry in Africa.
How did you hear about the GCE programme?
Through the Junior Achievement Zimbabwe Employability Whatsapp group. They advertise opportunities for young people.
Why did you decide to become GCE Youth Ambassador?
I am passionate about cooperative development and youth participation in entrepreneurship.
How can the GCE programme help you to make your entrepreneurial project happen?
By linking me to global like-minded people, offering workshops and trainings together with mentorship and support in getting funding to increase the seed capital.
Why do you think the cooperative is the best business model for your project?
Because it fosters membership participation and creates grassroot support for a business idea. In particular, the GCE program offers support to young entrepreneurs through the three-steps methodology, namely 1) Let’s cooperate, 2) Hackathon and 3) Let’s start for real.
** Wisdom's cooperative is one of the winners of the Replication Project organised by the ICA Youth Network. For additional information, please read here.
The ICA-EU Partnership on international development (also known as #coops4dev) was signed in 2016 between the International Cooperative Alliance and the European Commission to strengthen the cooperative movement as key actor in international development.
Read more about #coops4dev on our website.