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Commonwealth-Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs
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Commonwealth-Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs

The Commonwealth-Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE), formed in November 2011 with the joint initiative of the Commonwealth Youth Programme-Asia Centre and CII’s Young Indians had its mid-term Interim Review meeting and Leadership Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 13 & 14, 2012.

Dr Rahul Mirchandani, Founder Chairman of CAAYE & Past National Chairman, Yi, chaired the proceedings which were also attended by the Commonwealth Secretariat and member organisations from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Brunei-Darussalam.

Ms Katherine Ellis, Director & Head of the Youth Affairs Division, Commonwealth-Secretariat, London and Mr Aminul Islam Khan, CYP Asia Centre represented the Commonwealth at the Leadership Assembly which discussed a range of issues including Commonwealth Connect & Strategy, 6 months activity update from each country, partnership opportunities, Coaching & Mentorship programs, branding, succession planning, membership review and appraisals, amongst many others. All member organisations gave details of the extensive work being carried out nationally in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Skill Building & Employability and Innovation as their stellar contribution to the CAAYE objectives of mentorship and advocacy for building a better youth entrepreneurship ecosystem.

CAAYE also announced its ‘Pipeline Partnership’ with the International Labour Organisation’s Youth Employment Network (YEN) for e-Coaching and Mentorship of young entrepreneurs using the YEN Marketplace platform which connects mentors with world class coaches with business plans, funding options and pitching their business ideas. CAAYE and its member organisations will benefit from this partnership immensely since Yi can, after its own due diligence, introduce coaches for certification by ILO and also introduce students and their members needing mentorship to the YEN Marketplace program.

The Opening Ceremony and Entrepreneur Forum on 14 July 2012 was presided by Mr Vimalan, Director – International Unit, National Youth and Sports Department, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Government of Malaysia, Ms Katherine Ellis, Director & Head of the Youth Affairs Division, Commonwealth-Secretariat, London and Dr Rahul Mirchandani, Founder Chairman- CAAYE & Past National Chairman, Yi. Mr Vimalan expressed the Ministry’s keen interest in CAAYE and extended his full support to CAAYE and its partners in Malaysia, Junior Chamber International-Petaling Jaya and Malaysia Graduate Entrepreneurs Association (PUGM) who were co-hosts for the event. Ms Katherine Ellis also provided details of how CAAYE is highly respected within the Commonwealth Secretariat as a ‘best practice Alliance’ that within a short span of nine months since formation has succeeded in bringing together like minded organisations in the region to promote entrepreneurship as the key growth engine in Asia using a united, constructive and collective voice. She also expressed keenness on replicating CAAYE’s success in the other Regions of the Commonwealth, beginning next with the Caribbean Region. Dr Mirchandani explained CAAYE’s journey since inception and mentioned that the reason why CAAYE is key to Asia is because the countries in the Alliance have very little trade within each other and depend on the rest of the world due to artificial barriers to trade that urgently need policy intervention. Entrepreneurs can seek many opportunities within the Region itself if an Alliance like CAAYE can work towards building bridges using the united voices of young entrepreneurs.

This opening session was followed by an interactive panel discussion with over 150 young entrepreneurs and Malaysian students on the theme “Trading beyond Borders – Adventures of Global Entrepreneurs”. The panel was moderated by Dr Navita Mahajan from Yi and included Mr Ejaj Ahmed, President – Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre (BYLC), Mr Damien Chua, CEO of JD Group of Companies, Malaysia & Dr Rahul Mirchandani, Executive Director, Aries Agro Limited, India. This Entrepreneur Forum touched various issues ranging from how each entrepreneur entered their business, their experience expanding overseas, challenges of regulation, managing human capital across different cultures and their personal vision and goals. The audience asked several questions related to challenges for start-ups and on skills required and grooming of youth for entrepreneurship. The Forum was followed by a Business Networking event where six young entrepreneurs were given an excellent platform to pitch their own businesses to the audience.

CAAYE will soon issue a Communiqué containing recommendations to improve access to finance for young entrepreneurs at the flagship year end Summit, which will be its submission to the Heads of Governments, Education, Youth, and Finance & Commerce Ministers. In future years, Communiqués will be on other issues related to entrepreneurship ecosystem building

Yi Blue Ocean Dialogues Ideas Workshop had its International debut on 15 July 2012. Sixty students of two leading institutes were taken through an intensive ideation process by Dr Rahul Mirchandani, Immediate Past Chair, Next Practices & Past Yi National Chairman and Dr Navita Mahajan, Chair, Next Practices. The workshop was attended by the students of College Tunku Kurshiah and UCSA. The participants also included students of Mauritius, Chad, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Malaysia. This was an example of bilateral partnerships that emerge using the CAAYE platform to work across borders on promoting an entrepreneurship culture.

The sessions concluded with a curtain raiser presented by Yi inviting young entrepreneur delegates from CAAYE member organisations of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brunei and Maldives to Mumbai, India for the flagship CAAYE Young Entrepreneur Summit scheduled from December 13 to 15, 2012.

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