Participation in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry can prove worthwhile for any business owner and their team. The MICE industry which also incorporates travel and tourism, creates an innovative and cost effective solution for businesses in regard to creating, maintaining and growing their customer base.
The MICE industry, therefore, has grown exponentially over the past decade. Public and private sector players around the globe are realising the contribution this industry can make to expand their GDP. Economic and political players believe in the benefits that come from being recognised as a MICE destination of choice for business travellers and planners.
Where we find growth, young entrepreneurs are identifying opportunity and stepping up with innovation. Creating opportunity that removes limitations, creates systems with the customer in mind. Solutions that enable a better and more efficient experience. 
To showcase this, together with Evintra, I have selected four fearless young leaders who started their own businesses and are already making their mark in the world.
Entrepreneurs are born from making a purposeful decision to become relevant

Owner operated business that connect customers to the global MICE universe have become huge in numbers and have a massive impact in keeping ideas fresh and relevant in a fast paced and highly service orientated industry. 
While the road to success isn’t paved in gold, and even the most successful entrepreneurs have failed or lost everything somewhere along the way, the secret to their success was that they never stopped moving forward because of an obstacle.
Nour Mouakke, founder of Wizme was born and raised in one of the oldest cities in the world, Aleppo – Syria.  In 2007 he lost his mum to cancer leaving his dad to take care of himself and his four siblings. He moved to the UK in 2009 following which he had to make one of the toughest decisions of his life: in order to become a business owner, had to take on refugee status which meant never going back. It has been nine years since he last saw his family. 
Says Mouakke: “People that know me, know that I am a force of nature, with passion and energy for two. If you were thrown into a situation like mine, even though you don’t have a lot, and you get on with it. Some people believe refugees, which is what I am, are a kind of leach on society who want benefits and state handouts, this is not me. And time and time again some of the world best entrepreneurs have been born out these kinds of struggles. Steve Jobs, for example, had a Syrian father, not that I would compare myself to the great man.”
Mouakke said, after being in the hospitality industry for 15 years he realised the broken links:
“There are a large number of unstructured RFPs that result in huge amounts of manual work for everyone involved. It lacks transparency, efficiency and simplicity:
  • Today venues waste a lot of time, effort and money processing a large number of low quality leads with requests for   proposals from many different suppliers.
  • Matching the strengths of the venue to the customers’ needs is time consuming and labour intensive.
  • Many of the requests are so suppliers can give cost comparisons, the work, therefore, is usually fruitless.
  • Worse still, venues have to pay for some basic features in order to get preferential listing which increases the number of requests but does nothing to qualify the enquiry.
  • Most corporates don’t have any control or visibility on their spend.”
As a solve to these issues, Wizme is focused on making meetings and events management magical. The smart platform is designed to increase productivity and reduce costs by connecting corporates, agencies and venues. 
“And it’s magical because great technology and experiences are increasingly looking like magic to what we could do a few short years ago,” says Mouakke.
Role of the entrepreneur organisation in the MICE economy should not be understated

Entrepreneurial paths are some of the hardest roads to follow and require individual and team dedication that is often beyond reason. People who are willing to test their character and skills against the best competition can throw at them. 
Young people wanting to earn their place in the economy must consider how to create an environment for themselves that is conducive to goal realisation. They need to find ways to resolve financial stress, to maintain this focus, and share their ideas with the right partners with whom they can collaborate and grow.
Minez Kenneth Mckilligan, half Scottish, half Zambian, was studying petroleum geology at Aberdeen University in Scotland before he realised his passion for the Zambian tourism industry.
Says Mckilligan, “I have been doing a lot of market research to find out how I can increase Zambia's GDP in the tourism sector. I wanted to create Zambia's first travel App. I wanted anybody in the world who was interested in visiting Zambia to have access to all the information they would need in order to book a holiday. TRYZambia travel app is now available on google play store and apple store. During the last year I also started a Zambia travel and tours company in Zambia so that I am able to service all the orders which would come in through the travel APP.”
Mckilligan says the main reason he is in the business is because he wants to assist in increasing Zambia's GDP in the tourism sector. “By doing so we will encourage more lodges and hotels to be built new establishments and increase occupancy. This will mean more people will be in employment reducing poverty. More food will be needed to supply the growing number of visitors, which means better road network and transportation. I dream is to be a leader in innovation for the African continent.”
Entrepreneurs are dedicated and passionate about what and why they do it

These small to medium size organisations when all tallied up create millions of jobs world-wide and support and create huge economic impact in the areas they operate. 
Dustin Chan, The General Manager of New Imagination DMC China, launched his company in 2017 as a means to promote China as “a MODERN and FUN country”.
Chan believes China has more to offer other than the Great Wall and Peking Opera, “the modern achievement is also an inspiring story to tell. Like Mao Zedong once said in his poem “All (the heroes) are past and gone! For truly great men / Look to this age alone.” I want to tell the stories of people who are building this country right now, including true heroes and normal people around us.”
Today the MICE industry that is represented within the Evintra index, is an amazing global community of entrepreneurs, corporations and very large global entities. But the glue that connects many of the spaces in between are people who own and operate DMC’s or event management companies in the supplier universe and many people who plan, buy and deliver for business that range from small to large privately owned entrepreneurial driven business. 
New Imagine DMC China was born in response to enable flexibility and creativity in the DMC industry. “In China, most suppliers for DMCs are only used to the standard of mass tourism, they are not flexible nor creative enough.  They normally just follow what we demand and execute on it instead of working as a team to offer a better solution, which I believe could create more opportunity for us. We offer supplier management training to enable our suppliers to familiarise themselves with this thinking and grow their standards. I always guarantee it’s a win-win situation for our suppliers to work with us.  They will have more profit if they are flexible and in turn be a solution finder for us,” explains Chan.
Another entrepreneur who shares similar sentiments is: Emanuele Saffioti, from Rome, Italy, who started his company NOTE BENE Events (specialists in incentives, group travels and team building), two and a half years ago. Starting a business in Italy, wasn't easy. His biggest dream is to see NOTA BENE Events evolve into a leading DMC. “Customer satisfaction is something I constantly try to improve. My team and I care about the details; we care about the clients and we care about their time. Our success largely comes from being, as much as possible, part of every service we offer, without being dependent on external suppliers. By performing in such a way, the final product has much more quality I believe.
Acknowledging those who make it all possible
This article serves to recognise these young Entrepreneurs and highlight the importance of their quest to make their mark and contribution in the world.
As an Entrepreneur of 25 years and several business enterprises, I am passionate about building future entrepreneurial leaders, who will create employment for others, who will bring with them new concepts, solutions and ideas to add to the global body of knowledge.  
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t only apply to those who have started their own business, it now also applies to those who make changes within their teams or organisation for its betterment.
The new business success model requires more people to become entrepreneurs. They need to be adaptable, have the right attitude and aptitude for a particular task, and, most importantly, the aspiration to become the highest expression of themselves to create opportunities for themselves in an innovative digital technology era.
On behalf of Evintra and others that are on the road together with you we salute you and wish you everything of the best. 

Article by: David Sand


David Sand is the CEO and founder of UWIN IWIN (Pty) Ltd -1994, with offices and operations in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, India and London. In 2013 he became international President of Site Global, Society for Incentive travel Excellence, a professional society for leaders in the motivational events and incentive industry. Regarded as a pioneer in the field of online incentive point banking and online loyalty, recognition and reward fulfilment.  David is also honoured to be a Trustee of The President’s Award in South Africa a full member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for Young People.
The International Award Foundation oversees the Award Programme in over 140 countries globally, with 25 countries in Africa.