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Commonwealth youth entrepreneurs in Asia lead first trade mission to China
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Commonwealth youth entrepreneurs in Asia lead first trade mission to China

Timi Olajungu

From October 21 to 26, 2016, the Commonwealth Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAYE-Asia), under the direction of President Shaban Khalid and his team, led the first trade mission of young entrepreneurs to China, with the aim of establishing an exchange of knowledge and opportunities, and consolidating its partnership with China, a major trading partner in Asia.

Launched in 2011, CAYE-Asia comprises over 20,000 young entrepreneurs representing different organisations across the nine Commonwealth countries in Asia. The mission, entitled ‘One Belt, One Road’, was made possible through a collaboration between CAYE-Asia and the China Young Entrepreneurs Association (CYEA).

Consisting of fourteen CAYE–Asia members, the mission focused on uncovering potential business opportunities and relationships in different cities in China – Suzhao, Kushan, and Chongqing. Delegates visited Kunshan Visionox Technology Ltd, a company that uses Organic Light Emitting Display (OLED) technology to accelerate industrialisation. They also visited Kunshan Huguang Automobile Harness Ltd., which specialises in the large-scale manufacture of automobile parts and accessories.

To gain a socio-cultural perspective, delegates spent some time at the Exhibition of Achievement in the 30th Anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening-up of Kunshan, which they described as a “high-spirited and inspiring atmosphere” that vividly displayed the city’s history. Throughout their journey in Kunshan, the delegates quickly learned that “innovation is the soul of enterprise”.

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Next up was a match-making fair between Chinese entrepreneurs and the CAYE-Asia members, as well as other foreign entrepreneurs in China. Delegates also paid a visit to ECOVACS Business Solutions, which focuses on the long-term development of commercial and industrial service robots. At ECOVACS, the delegates engaged the company’s leadership on the underlying values behind its business, such as the thought-pattern behind building ‘Raybot’, a water-free solar panel cleaning robot.

In Chongqing, Western China’s largest city, the delegates visited the China Silian Instrument Group, which develops, produces, and markets industrial automation instrumentation and control equipment on a massive scale. They later proceeded to Southwest University, which was founded in 1906, and interacted with its student population through a structured mentorship session.

The delegates, some of whom had their first experience visiting China, rounded up their mission with meetings with Fuling District Government officials, and visits to some of China’s finest museums in Chongqing. There was consensus that the initiative had created opportunities for business, partnerships, and learning. In an exchange of gratitude, the CYEA embraced the opportunity for a reverse visit, in which their own delegation would attend programmes held by CAYE-Asia.

It must be noted that CAYE-Asia was the first Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs, and that it has given momentum to the Commonwealth Secretariat’s vision of birthing other such alliances, which now include: CAYE-Caribbean & Canada, CAYE-East Africa, CAYE-Southern Africa, and most recently, CAYE-West Africa.

CAYE-Asia President Shaban Khalid said, “We hope this trade mission gives vision to other alliances, especially in Africa, to chart the path of cooperation and integration, both at the regional and continental level”.

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