Young people represent the fastest growing demographic in Africa. Many are already economically active—some motivated by necessity to help their families. With access to the right opportunities, skills, mentors, social networks, technology, and finance, they have enormous potential to be a driving force for economic growth and social progress in Africa and beyond!
Young entrepreneurs are lacking in access to financial services and markets, business connections, education and training, mentorship and support systems. For example, financial institutions are averse to providing loans to youth-led businesses because these are seen as “risky”. And while the Silicon Valley ethos of “fail often and fail fast” is associated with learning and backed up with public and private support, this is not the case in many African countries.
As the discussion about entrepreneurship in Africa gains momentum, it is vital to ask how youth entrepreneurship can be developed as a potential pathway to spur job creation. For this to happen, we need to create a dynamic ecosystem of actors and resources that incubate businesses, facilitate access to capital and business development services, and provide assistance in the form of mentorship and peer-to-peer support. And we need to test models to understand what works and what doesn’t in various contexts.
Youth entrepreneurship is a powerful mechanism that taps into the creativity and drive of young people to bring about change, not just in their lives, but in their communities as well. It is an exciting area to explore as we stretch the boundaries of how young people in Africa can engage with their economies, on their own terms.
The Anzisha Prize seeks to award young entrepreneurs who have developed and implemented innovative solutions to social challenges or started successful businesses within their communities. 15 finalists from across Africa win a spot in a lifelong fellowship what will help to accelerate their path to entrepreneurship success. Meet our 2017 finalists here: http://www.anzishaprize.org/fellows/