Interview with Andredina Cardoso about the incubator to promote a new Cape Verdean entrepreneurial elite

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Andredina Cardoso, project manager, ISCABI. Photo: Marlene Nobre ©

Manuel Matola

This year, the Municipality of Santa Cruz in Cape Verde will donate 60 training grants to Cape Verdean citizens, including diaspora residents, who have recognized skills, whether by professional experience, academic title or other. This initiative aims to promote the creation of a new elite of entrepreneurs in the Archipelago.

The enrolled young people who obtain a rating of Excellent during the training season, in which they will be duly scrutinized in the light of their competence, will automatically be invited to join the staff of the companies installed in the Santa Cruz Atlantic Business & Innovation Incubator (ISCABI), the result of a public-private partnership between the Municipality of Santa Cruz and a private European entity.

Registration for the selection and recruitment of local trainers with a view to formalizing the Trainers’ Scholarship runs until July 31. Candidates for trainers can be in the diaspora or in Cape Verde. Those selected for this category will provide training services in the following areas: Portuguese (Advanced), English (Advanced), Spanish (Advanced), Marketing, Business Management, Logistics and Informatics from the User’s perspective. The trainees, on the other hand, will all be from Cape Verde and reside in the Archipelago. The training will be “hybrid”: online and in person.

“And by the end of the first quarter of 2021 ″, ISCABI“ will be integrated into the future Incubator Network Atlantic Business & Innovation Hub with a presence in West and Southern Africa ”, said the project manager, Andredina Cardoso, in an interview with the newspaper É@GORA , which you can follow below.

What project is this?
The Santa Cruz Atlantic Business & Innovation Incubator (ISCABI) is not a project, it is already a reality! It results from the convergence of wills of the Municipality of Santa Cruz and a European private partner. And by the end of the first quarter of 2021 it will be integrated into the future incubator network Atlantic Business & Innovation Hub with a presence in West and Southern Africa. Much is said about the entrepreneurial capacity of the Cape Verdean businessman, but if we go beyond the phrases made, we can see the evidence that the vast majority of constituted companies are micro-enterprises that generate between two to six jobs. Now, recognizing us in the people of Cape Verde the capacity mentioned above, we decided that the time had come to develop a new paradigm: that of small, and even medium-sized companies that play a relevant role within, and beyond, of the community where they are. The future of Cape Verdean companies depends on not only being limited to the market in their municipality or island, but also by conquering the archipelagic market and, in a next phase, turning to exports. These new paradigms will only take effect if our entrepreneurs have access to skills in the areas of international business networking, financing, etc. But how can you reach them if you don’t have the mechanisms that allow you to elevate your mental framework beyond the reality of our municipality? That is the mission that ISCABI proposes.

How many people do you intend to train?
This first training period aims to train approximately 60 individuals. Those who obtain a rating of Excellent will be automatically invited to join the staff of companies installed at ISCABI. The remaining trainees will be able to enroll in the Job Exchange managed by us.

Taking into account the pandemic time in which we live, how will the training be carried out in this phase: in person, or online?
The courses will include a “hybrid” model of face-to-face and distance / online sessions. To this end, we count on an international technological partner, with a strong presence in Africa and who will grant a lot of “world” to our trainees.

Does the Diaspora have any space?
The diaspora is already playing a catalytic role in the launch of ISCABI. On the one hand, there is a considerable number of diaspora members who are enrolling in the Trainers’ Exchange (since the courses will include a “hybrid” model). On the other hand, most of the companies that intend to set up at ISCABI are partially owned (directly or indirectly) by members of the Cape Verdean diaspora in Europe (Belgium, United Kingdom and Portugal, among others) and in the United States. The inputs of our diaspora are welcome because they contribute to the differentiation and reinforcement of the quality of this initiative. Cape Verde’s success (read, sustained development) is inextricably linked to the affirmation of its diaspora as an agent of change. And that diaspora strength will be as prominent, the greater its connection to the “mother archipelago”. It is a relationship with mutual gains.

Who are the beneficiaries of the project?
A business incubator cannot be reduced to the size of the “landlord” that it owns and manages a space that it leases to other entrepreneurs so that they can settle. It has to be a hotbed: of multidisciplinary knowledge (soft-skills are key tools of that knowledge), of benchmarking, of experiencing, in short, of growing and daring. And that is where we stand.

If training starts in the last quarter, how long will it take and how long will it take before the project actually starts?
We started with the training aspect because the gaps in certain areas are evident: entrepreneurship, exports, etc … To attract national and international projects, the first key competence is to have human capital properly prepared. And as for us, merit is one of the values ​​that galvanize us, we decided to create a pool of trainers: where all those who have a recognized competence (whether by professional experience, academic title, or other) can apply ( sending your CV to the email incubadora.formadores@cmscz.cv) and will be duly scrutinized in the light of your competence. The courses (free of charge for selected trainees) will be announced during the third quarter.

How do you plan to implement?
Being aware that the criteria of excellence are a sine qua non condition to integrate the demanding market that we have today. Considering that opportunities are often not designed in the same way for both genders, one of the courses taught in this first phase will be Entrepreneurship for women. In a national context where the unemployment rate and informal employment have a significant impact on women, and taking into account that 26% of jobs are self-employed (data from INE, 2019,) we could not fail to pay special attention to this aspect. The level of development of a nation is also measured by the full participation of women in all spheres of society and, looking at Cape Verdean news, where despite the recent approval of the parity law, we note the scarcity of candidacies in the female presidency of the municipalities, further contributes to our conviction that we are on the right path. (MM)

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