The first audience was granted on 7 July 2022 by the Minister of SMEs, Social Economy and Handicrafts, Achille Basilekin III, to Paul Raymond Coustere, Regional Director and Representative for Central Africa of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is part of the reinforcement and materialisation of the Cooperation engaged with this international institution and precisely enabled to consider the setting up of the working group agreed upon during the audience of 16 March 2022, and to conclude the joint MINPMEESA-UNESCO action plan. The said plan includes youth and women entrepreneurship and business creation in the various programmes/projects promoting peace and resilience of societies as advocated by UNESCO in Cameroon.
It should be noted that the promotion of entrepreneurship, at the centre of MINPMEESA’s missions, occupies an essential place in UNESCO’s activities, especially for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which challenge all the agencies of the United Nations system. These include, in particular, MDG 1 on eradicating poverty in all its forms; MDG 2 on eradicating hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture; MDG 8 on promoting economic growth, full employment and decent work; and MDG 9 on promoting industrialisation and innovation.
At the heart of UNESCO’s priorities are also concerns that challenge MINPMEESA. These include the promotion of the green economy, the digitalisation of enterprises and support for creative industries. Also, a large number of UNESCO programmes/projects implemented in Cameroon affect the SMESEH sector and integrate the entrepreneurship component. This is notably the case of the “RESILIART” programme which aims at supporting the resilience of artists through capacity building and financial support; and the “Heritage Circuits” programme which aims at identifying a pilot project per cultural area with a view to fostering the emergence of resilient enterprises. Similarly, UNESCO is seeking MINPMEESA’s expertise in developing entrepreneurial skills in other countries of the Central African sub-region.
The second audience, granted to Jean-Luc STALON, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two parties. It thus enabled the two personalities to discuss two issues. Firstly, working together to put in place an incentive framework favourable to the development of SMEs and start-ups in the sense of the legalisation, certification and standardisation of their products, as well as the development of agriculture. Then, the two personalities reflected on the need to provide financial and social support to SMEs affected by Covid-19.
It should be recalled that the UNDP, through its 2022-2026 Country Programme, has made financing and capacity building of actors in the Cameroonian entrepreneurial ecosystem its priority. Specifically, for the year 2022, UNDP plans to capitalise on previous successes to increase resilience, empower women and youth, and strengthen social cohesion in the country.
In line with its priorities, UNDP will support SMEs and small and medium-sized investors (SMIs) that contribute to the expansion of local industries and job creation. It will rely on government support structures, business incubators, the private sector and universities to ensure the sustainability of interventions.
In the opinion of the Minister in charge of SMEs, Achille Basilekin III, the support of the two partners will not only make it possible to support the entrepreneurship of women and young people and the creation of businesses, but also to promote resilience in the event of force majeure and the competitiveness of businesses. A joint working group will work out the modalities and planning for the implementation of the collaboration, he added.
At the end of the hearings, the two hosts praised the dynamism of the Minister of SMESEH, especially his ability to take into consideration the concerns of his sector of activity.