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AfDB seeks support for youth entrepreneurship in Africa

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called for increased support for youth entrepreneurship in Africa.
 
The continental bank submitted that awakening the entrepreneurial spirit of every youth is key to the continent’s future developments.
 
Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development of AfDB, Wambui Gichuri, made this call during a virtual event, themed, “Investing in Africa’s Future: Youth Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship.” 
 
The event was organised by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), to mark the International Youth Day.
According to him, Africa needs to channel more attention to entrepreneurship, as it is an essential factor in addressing its unemployment challenge, noting that Africa is young, and needs to do whatever it takes to empower its youth, as they are the future of the continent.

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Commenting, Director, Human Capital, Youth, and Skills Development, AfDB, Martha Phiri, said the Bank’s investment helped scale up TEF’s Entrepreneurship Programme to reach an additional 1,000 entrepreneurs in 38 African countries. 

She explained that in 2019, the entrepreneurship programme, which offers job skills, mentoring, and funding to African entrepreneurs agreed on a partnership with the Bank and has so far been provided $5 million in seed capital for the initiative.

She stressed the need to empower African youths with skills and provide them with the necessary support to prove their business concepts, noting that this would help them start, grow, and scale their businesses to create more jobs, not just for themselves, but for others.

Speaking on the Bank’s ‘AfricaVsVirus Ideathon’, she said the initiative would provide training, mentoring, and investment opportunities to African youths who developed the most promising solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges.

In her remarks, Chief Executive Officer, TEF, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, said Africa is the epicentre for the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that it was time to come together to rethink and re-imagine private and public sector commitments to young African entrepreneurs.

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She projected that the population of Africans aged between 18 to 35 years is expected to hit 830 million people by 2050, thereby creating a youth bulge, which experts predict could create a corps of young workers to fuel the continent’s long-term economic growth, but also poses immense job-creation challenges.   

During the panel session, 22-year-old TEF alumni and Founder, Greenpact, a Kenyan alternative renewable energy startup, Leroy Mwasaru, expressed a desire to see greater communication and sharing of lessons learned among small and medium enterprises.     

The webinar invited a range of private and public sector representatives to discuss the challenges young African entrepreneurs face, and more broadly the continent’s economic future, in light of the ongoing pandemic.

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