Young Founders Conference 2017

21 young entrepreneurs from all over the world attended the fourth Westerwelle Young Founders Conference in Berlin, Germany. From 13th to 16th September, they participated in workshops and panel discussions that strengthened their entrepreneurial skills and expanded their global networks. 

In this year, the participants came from 15 countries, such as Afghanistan, Rwanda, Peru or Iraq. They run businesses in varied economic sectors, including the agritech-sector and renewable energies. However, they also have many things in common: All of the Young Founders are successful entrepreneurs who devise innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in developing countries. 

As part of the conference, the participants got to know the political Berlin. In a talk with Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Ms. Brigitte Zypries, they had the opportunity to present their ventures and learn about German initiatives to foster entrepreneurship. The Young Founders also became acquainted with the local start-up ecosystem through visits of coworking spaces such as Spielfeld Digital Hub and Ahoy! Coworking, and of enterprises such as Coffee Circle. 

Moreover, the entrepreneurs partook in various workshops: Together with the Pitch Doctor Christoph Sollich they sharpened their presentation skills. Julia Derndinger, sparring partner for CEOs, gave them valuable input on the topic of leadership. Louw Barnardt, Co-Founder and MD of Outsourced CFO introduced them to the fundamental principles of financial management. In sessions with investors from YUNUS Social Business, GreenTec Capital Partners, and Mountain Partners, the Young Founders had the chance to learn what it is that investors really look for. Martin Elwert, founder of Coffee Circle, and Shoba Purushothaman, CEO of Hardskills, shared their experiences as seasoned entrepreneurs and answered the Young Founders’ questions during a Q&A session. 

Furthermore, the founders were introduced to their mentors. As part of the Westerwelle Young Founders Programme, the Young Founders will be mentored by experienced entrepreneurs who will act as sparring partners for their ideas and challenges. Amongst the mentors are notable German entrepreneurs, such as Manuel Dolderer, founder of CODE University, Christian Geissendoerfer, CEO of the German Accelerator South-East Asia, and Lisa Lang, CEO of ElektroCouture. 

The conference was inaugurated through a reception at the Westerwelle Foundation. Around 100 guests from business, politics, the start-up ecosystem, and the diplomatic corps convened at the reception to meet the Young Founders. Dr. Eric Schweitzer, President of the DIHK and CEO of ALBA Group plc & Co. KG, held the keynote speech at the event and therein emphasized the importance of a supportive political framework for the success of young entrepreneurs. 

Further information 

Meet all of your Young Founders 2017 here.