Asia-Pacific and African Youths build entrepreneurship mindsets and are introduced to innovations in media and entertainment industry in the COVID-19 Era

South-South Entrepreneurship Academy First Cohort 2021, 24-25 April [ONLINE]

On 24-25 April 2021, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC); and Gratia Christian College (Hong Kong, China, SAR) convened the South-South Entrepreneurship Academy: 2021 First Cohort on “Media and Entertainment Entrepreneurship in the COVID-19 Era”. The virtual event was supported by other Hong Kong institutions including Cyberport, Youth Square and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Hong Kong Association. Eighteen (18) young people from 13 countries, namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Fiji, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Nepal, the Philippines, and South Sudan attended the training.

The two-day training workshop consisted of three sessions: 1) Inclusive Entrepreneurial Mindset and South-South Cooperation, 2) Global Citizenship, and 3) Product and Business Development in Media and Entertainment. Experts from the Asia-Pacific countries including Bangladesh, China, Fiji, Thailand and the Republic of Korea provided a comprehensive overview of South-South cooperation, entrepreneurship mindset, business planning, core values of global citizenship and emerging innovations in the media and entertainment industry during the ongoing digital transformation era with actual case studies and examples. The speakers came from diverse backgrounds, including academia, entrepreneurs, the media and entertainment industry, experts in marketing, branding, investment and art. Furthermore, they offered valuable advice and life-experiences and requested participants to reach out to them for advice, support and mentorship.

Some of the reactions from the speakers and participants are as follows:

Mr. Irfan Aziz Banday, WIS Marketing Director, Thailand, thanked the co-organizers for the opportunity to present his company’s work on business and social media planning and connect with potential young entrepreneurs through the South-South Entrepreneurship Academy.  

Ms. Sachiko Soro, Director of VOU Fiji, whose expertise is production and management of traditional and contemporary live music and dance inspired participants sharing her creative response to cope with unexpected challenges her company faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Ms. Soro also encouraged participants to not give up their passions. She said, “Every country has its unique challenges. Sometimes you need a second job to support your passion. It is a great opportunity for me to tell my story of how we came up with initial financing, using contemporary Fijian stories.  The economic situation in each country maybe different, but there are strengths and weaknesses within every context which require consideration and capitalization on starting and operating a business. We need to learn and decide which market we should tap in to sustain our business.”

Nkembeteck Henry Nkwa from Cameroon (participant) expressed curiosity about how video editing volunteering could be a sustainable activity for him in the long term. He asked several questions on financing, market identification, potential client/customer analysis and investment/sponsor identification and strategy, as well as marketing to strengthen his video production service.  He would like to enhance high quality of his services with creative direction.

Samuel Sebit from South Sudan (participant and musician) was motivated by speakers’ entrepreneurial journeys overcoming challenges. He said, “It inspires me to think of the solutions to leverage entrepreneurial opportunities in an environment of war and lack of government support especially in funding. I am motivated to learn more about creative arts and artistic approaches to entrepreneurship especially entertainment which is not supported in my country”.

Karine Leung from Hongkong (participant) shared her concerns on increasing the number of subscribers to her YouTube channel.  She would like to know more on how to increase the subscribers and content creation to appeal to the audiences, and how to optimize visibility of individual channels on social media platforms. On the workshop, she said, “I learned plenty of ways to reach the people and get more subscribers”.

Desmond Doulatram from the Marshall Islands (participant) was impressed with the very powerful presentations of experts. He added: “It reminded me of what Albert Einstein once stated where he said, something around the lines of “you cannot achieve peace with force, you can only achieve it through understanding”. This was said pertaining to the presentation by UNESCO Association that “peace is not absence of conflict”.

Two UNOSSC interns participated as observers of the two-day training. They said, “We have received many insightful and informative knowledge on different types of media and entertainment industries”. They were exposed to the ongoing struggles faced by the entrepreneurs and learned emerging creative digital solutions to overcome the pandemic to continue providing best products and services to their customers and clients.

This cohort served as a knowledge sharing platform for everyone to learn about the “new-normal” practices. It was a good start for young people interested in becoming an entrepreneur in the future. All the participants learned how to start and operate a business throughout the business cycle: business planning, pitching and fundraising, marketing, and business ethics. At the same time, participants from various backgrounds contributed to cultural exchanges and new market perspectives in their respective regions.