The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and International Chamber of Commerce have partnered to launch centres of Entrepreneurship in Africa, under the theme, ‘Creating Livelihoods for Inclusion’.
Located across strategic positions in Africa, the centres will work with various stakeholders, including businesses, academic institutions and governmental agencies to build a bridge between local entrepreneurs and the global markets so as to enhance regulatory conditions for SMEs to thrive.
The entrepreneurship centres is designed to focus on developing skills of young people who face uncertain employment prospects to mentoring local start-ups and entrepreneurs. They are expected to develop the next generation of African business leaders.
Speaking at the virtual launch on September 16, 2021, Director of the Africa Centre for Statistics at the ECA, Oliver Chinganya said the launch of the Centres of Entrepreneurship is coming at a time when Africa is trying to recover from the effects of Covid-19. He also urged the centres to mobilize the next generation of entrepreneurship in Africa based on their tailored-made solutions.
Chinganya further stated that the centres will provide Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises with the right tools and methods to improve on their business to be able to play an effective role in the goods and services supply chain. He believes they will also provide pathways to accelerating women and youth empowerment, which remains a pivotal and necessary action to accelerate Africa’s growth and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to data obtained from the Economic Commission for Africa, MSMEs owned by women and youth account for approximately 98 per cent of all firms and 60 per cent of private sector employment in African countries. They are a fundamental part of the economic fabric of African economies. The youngest and smallest SMEs contribute to 22 per cent of net job creation on the continent.
In his own words, ICC Secretary General, John Denton said the entrepreneurship centres will play a very important role in scaling globally, the most successful local and regional entrepreneurial initiatives driven by chambers of commerce and innovative partners.
Denton cited the lack of proper training on digitalization, excessive business regulations in most countries, and poor infrastructure as some of the challenges faced by MSMEs and entrepreneurs in Africa.
He believes that despite playing a major role in the economy by bridging the employment gap and contributing over 40% of national income, SME remains the most challenged on the continent.
He therefore called for resolutions aimed at making entrepreneurs in Africa compete with others at the global market adding that ICC is committed to taking a leadership role through these centres of Entrepreneurship to help SME and entrepreneurs in the region by raising awareness for potential opportunities.
Africa has the highest rate of new business creation and its teeming youths are 1.6 times more likely to be entrepreneurs, thus addressing challenges of high youth unemployment.
Experts believe that the entrepreneurship centres will inspire future entrepreneurs through skills development, digitalization, and mentorship critical for women and youth to overcome traditional barriers to accessing networks.