The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) have jointly launched Centres of Entrepreneurship in Africa.
With strategic locations across Africa, the ECA - ICC Centres of Entrepreneurship will work with various stakeholders, including businesses, chambers of commerce, academic institutions, intergovernmental and governmental agencies, to connect local entrepreneurs to global markets and enhance regulatory conditions for small, medium-sized and microeenterprises (SMMEs) to thrive.
The entrepreneurship centres will develop the skills of young people, who face uncertain employment prospects, to mentor other local startups and entrepreneurs.
The centres are expected to develop the next generation of African business leaders.
“The launch of the Centres of Entrepreneurship comes at the right time when Africa is trying to build back better from the effects of Covid-19. We believe these centres, based in different regions of the continent, and with tailored-made solutions, can mobilise the next generation of entrepreneurship in Africa,” ECA Africa Centre for Statistics director Oliver Chinganya said during the virtual launch event on September 16.
He said the centres would provided SMMEs with the tools and pathways to expand their business and play an effective role in the goods and services supply chain.
They will also provide pathways to accelerate women and youth empowerment – a necessary action to accelerate Africa’s growth and recovery from the pandemic.
ECA data shows that SMMEs, often women and youth-owned, account for about 98% of all firms and 60% of private sector employment in African countries. The youngest and smallest SMMEs contribute 22% of net job creation on the continent.
Chinganya said the centres would inspire future entrepreneurs through skills development, digitalisation and mentorship that is critical for women and youth to overcome traditional barriers to accessing networks.
At a roundtable with African business leaders and SMMEs, EldoHub executive director and founder Chepkemoi Magdaline said the majority of young entrepreneurs required soft skills, which could be acquired through proper training and mentorship programmes.
Magdaline said the majority of young people faced the challenges of limited access to financing, poor financial literacy and poor market access.
“Digitalisation of SMMEs is [also] key and can only be attained through capacity building, mentorship and enabling young people have access to affordable financing,” she noted.