The first ever fellowship of young African entrepreneurs was convened by UNDP Africa and hosted by UNDP Uganda at Imperial Golf view hotel.
The 4-day training that is running under the theme “21st century leadership skills and volunteerism” has gathered enthusiastic agro-prenuers from 11 countries in Africa including Kenya, Mozambique
The training that has been running for 2-days now has seen the Lamin M. Manneh, director at the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) regional service for Africa give a presentation on the key elements of the youthconnekt regional programme, progress and way forward.
In his address, Lamin said that Africa boasts of the fastest-growing youth population in the world. But there is consensus that for this significant youth dividend to be realized, governments and all the stakeholders have to quickly join hands to effectively address the major issues affecting the youth. Notable among them is the high and persisting levels of unemployment and underemployment. With better enabling conditions put in place and the requisite investments devoted to creating opportunities for youth and access to other resources, it is quite likely that we will see African countries revive their economic fortunes and take their long-awaited seat at the table of nations that have been able to steer their fate towards sustained prosperity and abundance. As we realize the ambition of Africa’s youth to take the reins and build “the Africa we want”, entrepreneurship is often touted as among the solutions to the very real issue of youth unemployment. It is evident that states and the formal large and medium private sectors will not by themselves be capable of creating the numbers jobs required to absorb the rapidly growing young workers entering the job markets.
Anyone who has been bold enough to take the entrepreneurial journey will testify that the chances of any business succeeding rely heavily on an ecosystem that provides a favourable broader environment, access to the tools, resources and support that take a budding enterprises’ unique needs into consideration. More mature entrepreneurs sometimes have the advantage of time and experience as they further their goals and objectives. Young entrepreneurs face critical gaps in the opportunities presented to them. The more support they have access to, the greater their contribution could be to the development of their communities and countries and hence to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa’s Vision 2063.
According to the Lamin, there are key pillars of success when building a business that can contribute to a community’s sustainable development.
- Information already exists, what we need to do as entrepreneurs is to make sure we use this content as a means to leverage. Young people need to start looking for information that is relevant to their growth and vision.
- Much as young people need mentorship, they need to stop with the mentality of one-offs. Mentorship takes a certain period of time for the mentor and the mentee to build trust and share some detailed information.
- Networking opportunities for youth entrepreneurs are an important gap in the ecosystem. Many business networks focus on more mature entrepreneurs. Networking aims to strengthen community building among young entrepreneurs.
Conclusively, Lamin manneh said that for entrepreneurship to support Africa’s youth in countering poverty and unemployment, there has to be a mindset change that will necessitate them to be innovative and speak to their most pressing needs, taking into consideration the resources already available, identifying gaps and creating flexible and effective solutions. The interventions the pioneers of the African youth entrepreneurs fellowship bring to the table must be fit for purpose.
Most importantly, Africa needs an all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure the continent’s youth, curious about the future and bursting with ideas, are given a chance to lead us into the prosperous future we all strive for.
YouthConnekt Africa, Changing Mindsets