AfDB: awakening the entrepreneurial spirit in Africa

By Georgia Wilson
African Development Bank (AfDB), discusses the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Africa...

During the African Development Bank’s (AfDB), attendance of a webinar titled ‘Investing in Africa’s Future: Youth Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship’, the AfDB discussed the challenges faced by young entrepreneurs.

“Africa is young, and we need to do whatever it takes to empower our youth because they are the future of the continent,” commented Wambui Gichuri, the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development. “Entrepreneurship is an essential part in addressing Africa’s employment challenge and where we need to put our focus.”

With the population of African’s aged 18-35 expected to reach 830mn by 2050, experts predict this could fuel the continent’s long-term economic growth, but also create job-creation challenges.   

The importance of entrepreneurships

“Africa is the epicenter for the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to come together and rethink and reimagine our commitment to young African entrepreneurs,” commentedIfeyinwa Ugochukwu, the Foundation’s CEO and panel moderator. “Investing in our future means awaking the entrepreneurial spirit of every young person on the continent.”

Since 2019, the Entrepreneurship Program - which provides job skills, mentoring and funding to African entrepreneurs - has been a part of a US$5mn partnership with the AfDB, providing seed capital for the initiative.

Among those that were on the panel included 22-year-old Leroy Mwasaru - founder of Greenpact, a Kenyan alternative renewable energy startup, and alumni of the Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Program. During the panel’s discussions, Mwasaru emphasised a desire to see greater communication and sharing of lessons learned among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“The Bank’s investment enabled the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program to scale up and reach an additional 1,000 entrepreneurs in 38 African countries,” commented Director Martha Phiri. “Let us give skills to our youth and also provide them with the necessary support to prove their business concepts, so that they can start, grow and scale their businesses in order to create jobs – not just for themselves, but for others.”

In addition to the seed funding provided by AfDB, it was also mentioned at the webinar, the AfDB’s commitment to mentoring and investing in opportunities for African youth working to develop the most promising solutions for COVID-19 related challenges. The bank is driving this through its AfricaVsVirus ideathon.

Those that joined Gichuri, Phiri and Mwasaru on the panel included, Shoroke Zedan, Chairperson, World Skills Egypt; Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Founder of Wecyclers Nigeria and Ebube Emodi, Tony Elumelu Foundation Events Manager and Executive Associate. 

The overall message of the panel that coincided with International YOuth Day, included the call for greater support of youth entrepreneurship.

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