At the end of 2008, after visiting many African entrepreneurs and local project leaders, I decided to buy a ticket to the Gambia. I don't believe in coincidences: the phone number I was given, did not belong to a taxi driver but the man took me to my hotel anyway. He appeared to be the owner of two restaurants and invited me for dinner at his house.

His name is Assan Cole, a young hospitality entrepreneur, and we conversed at length about his businesses and the challenges he faces. Through Assan, I got to meet a group of young African entrepreneurs and the idea of a support program was born. A name for the program came up easily, Tesito, which means as much as 'pull your belt on and start working'. The program aims to help young African entrepreneurs to develop their businesses and take them to the next level.

In 2009, Assan Cole was the first entrepreneur to visit the Netherlands for an exchange program. He interned at McDonald's, La Place and Peeze Coffee. Hereafter, in the period 2009-2011, another five entrepreneurs from different branches in the Gambia took part in the exchange. Together with the EVD, we organized a combined program (the Matchmaking Program of the EVD and the Exchange Program of Tesito) for a chicken farmer from the Gambia, Jewru Touray of Rue Chicken Ltd.

Tesito builds solid bridges between Dutch and African entrepreneurs. A strong SME network means more jobs and a better perspective for many Africans. For example, Assan Cole has already opened his third restaurant and is working on a fast food business plan. Jewru Touray has begun an onion trade with the Netherlands. New business means new jobs, it's that simple.

This concept, contributing to a strong SME in developing countries, has become a passion of mine. It has made me decide to fully dedicate my time to this end.