Orange Corners has been supporting young entrepreneurs in DRC through its incubation programme since 2019. The second cohort just started and the incubatees are learning and growing a lot in the 6 month programmes, implemented by our brilliant local service provider IngeniousCity.

However, for a young entrepreneur to start a successful company in DRC that can grow, provide much needed innovative products and services, a functional an enabling environment is much needed. Therefore, Orange Corners is aiming for systemic change when it comes to entrepreneurship.

We aim to achieve systemic change surrounding Entrepreneurship in DRC in two ways:

– Investing in the educational sector with an entrepreneurship education programme that will be launched in 2021. This is where we can shape the entrepreneurial minds of the youth at an early stage.
– Developing a Startup Act with all the relevant stakeholders involved, specifically Youth. This way entrepreneurship is being supported at a national policy level.

Startup Act
Our embassy in Kinshasa was approached by a Congolese parliamentarian for support in creating a Startup act, as there was a large need for it. In collaboration with I4Policy, we endeavoured on this exciting path. I4Policy is an initiative that is supporting the development of startup policies in various African countries. According to them, these policies contribute to a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development of economies and societies. For I4Policy, youth, creatives, entrepreneurs and innovation communities are central to solution building, policy making and lasting change.

On February 7, 2020, I4Policy brought together sixty key players from the entrepreneurial ecosystem to organize a policy hackathon with the objective of developing a Start-Up Act. The approach was interactive, participatory and dynamic in order to make the participating stakeholders identify the best ideas. Their work started by thinking about the challenges facing entrepreneurs during in the process and phases of creating a start-up. It is worth nothing that  at every step also the EKN, the OC service provider, private sector, knowledge institutes, other donors, youth and others were involved to provide input and create buy-in.

Lessons Learned
There are two crucial lessons learnt that we want to share:
1. Policy development shouldn’t be a top-down process but very much an inclusive, participatory process that takes the voices and viewpoints of all stakeholders involved into account.

2. This specific process not only makes sure people are heard and the local knowledge and challenges are translated into the clauses of the startup act but it also paves the way for the necessary buy-in from all stakeholders involved, from young entrepreneurs all the way to government officials, needed for the acceptance and implementation of the startup act. With this participatory process the chances of successful implementation after the development are significantly higher.

Implentation so far has been successful. The act was developed according to the above-described process and was legally reviewed. The Congolese Ministry of SMEs was so pleased with our work that they have now championed the act and are presenting it to the parliament. The embassy will now start to consult various donors and embassies to ascertain how best to support the implementation process as a coordinated effort.

With initiatives like this the Orange Corners team is looking beyond incubation and the direct support of young entrepreneurs and is contributing to the systemic change so direly needed for these trailblazers to prosper.

Kingdom of the Netherlands