On 27-28 November 2021, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and Gratia Christian College (Hong Kong, SAR) convened the South-South Entrepreneurship Academy: 2021 Second Cohort on “Beauty in Mind and Actions for Sustainable Business”. The virtual event was supported by the Pacific Island Private Sector Organization and Hong Kong institutions including Cyberport, Youth Square and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Hong Kong Association. Thirty-five (35) young people from 9 countries, namely, Angola, Botswana, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, Zambia and Zimbabwe attended the training.
The aspiring entrepreneurs learned how to start and operate a business including business planning, pitching, and fundraising, marketing. 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 on “Beauty in Mind and Actions for Sustainable Business”. Experts from the Asia-Pacific countries including Azerbaijan, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Thailand provided a comprehensive overview of South-South cooperation, entrepreneurship mindset, business planning, core values of global citizenship and emerging innovations in the beauty industry. The speakers came from diverse backgrounds, including academia, entrepreneurs, the beauty and fashion industry, experts in marketing, branding, and investment. Furthermore, they offered valuable advice and life-experiences and requested participants to reach out to them for advice, support and mentorship.
Some of the contributions from the speakers and participants are as follows:
Mr. Ricky Chu, Chairperson, Equal Opportunities Commission, Hong Kong Special Administrative Regional Government highlighted the need for “more diverse representation and redefinition of beauty. The beauty business needs to include people with different body shapes, people with disability, people of different ethnicity, and people with different gender identity.”
Mr. Howard Politini from the Pacific Island Private Sector Organisation stated that “from a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) perspective, there needs to be a quantitative, qualitative and creative approach to doing as much as we can in the economic recovery initiatives, including greater participation of the Pacific region in this entrepreneurship training.”
Dr. Padmavathi Shenoy, Assistant Professor, Goa Institute of Management said, “in the long run if you are thinking of building a sustainable business, be mindful that you may not be competitive on a cost basis, however, you can compete on passion and things you care for.”
Ms. Lucy Rao, Head Designer, Rialto Fashions, Kenya- advised the aspiring entrepreneurs, “Don’t get into the industry because of money, go into it because you love it, because you want to do something. You want to leave a footprint in the world which is going to be felt by next generations.”
Ms. Lufilufi Rasmussen of Misiluki Skincare, Samoa advised participants: “don’t burn any bridges. Relationships are very essential in any industry.”
Ms. Geeta Prakash – Co-Founder PARAMA NATURALS, India related her learning from experience on marketing her products, “You should master the use of social media in the early stages of your business journey. Never focus only on Instagram or Facebook. Start with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is a long lifetime tool.”
A UNOSSC intern who participated in the two-day training said, “I learnt a lot about the beauty business from the life stories of entrepreneurs in particular the challenges that they have to face. Some of these stories were very inspiring in urging a new entrepreneur to focus on the things that they are passionate about and to keep it simple in the beginning of the business. I have been in other entrepreneurship trainings/ competitions, and I felt the value of South-South Entrepreneurship Academy training.” She said she learnt how important it is to have a “people-centered” mind-set first and profit later for a sustainable and successful business.