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Incubator programme creates job opportunities

Incubators

While the usual PUM customer must be operational for at least two years, new businesses are set up and supported through PUM's incubator programme. Job opportunities are created in developing countries where youth unemployment is soaring. A higher number of job opportunities prevents young people from trying their luck elsewhere, turning the brain drain into a brain gain. 

An incubator is an organisation that helps young entrepreneurs get from business idea to start-up. Henny van Vliet, coordinator of the incubator programme: "It is a company that produces companies. To qualify for the programme, an incubator must have at least three staff members, have funding for the next two years and commit to bringing forth ten start-ups per year. "

'Dozens of jobs will be created because of these businesses'

The incubator programme started at the beginning of 2017. Henny: "PUM helps setting up entirely new incubators and as well as optimizing already existing incubator centres. We currently assist thirty incubators across Africa, Asia and South America. Most of them are just starting out. However, four incubators are already in a position to guide start-ups. In the coming year, dozens of jobs will be created because of these businesses.

Usually during the first mission to an incubator a business plan is written. During follow-up missions, experts train the staff via the 'train-the-trainer' principle. They explain how to run an incubator as optimally as possible. How do you select promising start-ups? For example, it is important to check whether someone – besides having a good idea - has the right mentality to embark on an entrepreneurial journey."

Challenges

A challenge that experts often encounter is that those who run the incubator do not see the organisation as a company. Henny: "For that penny to drop, a lot of work is needed from our side. Obtaining the initial financing is usually not a problem, but building the incubator up to a point where it is sustainable forms a challenge. Short-term thinking is not unusual in developing countries. Something that has to happen in June, is not a problem now. By showing examples of Dutch incubators, our experts explain that long-term thinking is essential for a company. "

The incubators in the programme can be divided into three categories: 40% comes from a university, another 40% is set up by a government or fund and 20% is private. Henny: "Vietnam is one of the first countries where the incubator programme started. Here we have an incubator in each category that is already in a further phase.

Dalat University, for example, is recruiting start-ups. The university is located in one of the most important agricultural regions of the country. They want to promote technological development in agriculture. The government also believes it is important to support entrepreneurship in this region. SongHan - a private incubator - is in the same recruitment phase. 

The Vietnam Climate Innovation Center in Hanoi, is an incubator that is yet another phase further. They deal with a wide range of climate issues. How can the technology be used to fight climate change? Think about things like solar energy or water management. A dozen start-ups have already emerged from this incubator. "

Henny van Vliet (68) has been a PUM expert since 2011, coordinator of the IT sector from 2016 and coordinator of the incubator programme since the start in 2017. "I am an entrepreneur myself. Helping other entrepreneurs gives me a great deal of satisfaction. My own IT companies have grown into internationally operating SMEs.”