YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS PATHWAY TO AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT: THE GAIN EXPERIENCE
The greatest asset of any nation is a well-educated and empowered youth. The youth are enthusiastic, curious, creative and innovative. At this stage, they have the capacity and tenacity to pursue their dreams and attain great heights, however, guidance is important to how this creativity is unlocked. In Africa, young people face a number of challenges, including high levels of youth unemployment.
Youth unemployment inhibits sustained economic growth and development especially in developing countries. In the report on “Global Employment Trends for Youth” by the International Labor Organization (ILO) published in 2015, over 169 million working young people earn less than US$2 per day in developing countries. Africa's youth population is the youngest in the world and is expected to double within the next decade. This will pose a major problem in Africa if nothing drastic is done to tackle the high unemployment rate and its dire consequences.
The African Development Bank (AfDB, ) in its report, Jobs for the Youth in Africa(2016), predicted that 263 million young people will lack an economic stake in the system by 2025. The World Bank in its April 2022 “Update on Global Poverty and Inequality Platform” states that sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 61.3% of the global poor population, that is, those that live on $1.90 per day.
Youth unemployment has contributed immensely to a rise in poverty, terrorism, insecurity, banditry, kidnappings, political thuggery, civil unrest, cyber-crime and many social vices we witness in Africa today. These challenges slow the pace of development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals on the continent.
Entrepreneurship has been shown to be the only sustainable path to resolving this situation. Young people in Africa mostly operate within the micro to small business space and Entrepreneurship provides young people with the necessary skills and experiences to thrive economically and contribute to development of the continent. However, to achieve this noble continental goal, they need to be groomed to acquire entrepreneurship skills to build and most importantly to scale their businesses across Africa, taking advantage of the consolidated over one-billion-persons market and beyond.
This is exactly the objective of the GAIN Entrepreneurship Masterclass by Grand Africa Initiative GAIN. This Masterclass, now in its second year, has been able to reach young Africans in thirteen countries. To ensure an all- round practical entrepreneurship training, the 2021 edition focused on business ideation, design thinking, business modeling, pitching, business finance, investment, forecast, leadership, communication marketing etc and had facilitators drawn from across the globe. Partners included ExxonMobil, TYSYS Capital Group, Vurin Group, Country Hill Attorneys & Solicitors, Strickland Services Limited, Nextzon Limited and Weltek Limited.
The success of this novel approach is already on display. Over the past six months, we have received testimonials on how the program has impacted the businesses of the pioneer participants. With feedback ranging from clarity of ideas, ideas conception, boosted confidence, actual startups, expansion, more revenue etc. It has been a harvest of positive testimonials from almost 95% of the pool.
One other critical component of the GAIN Entrepreneurship Masterclass was the “tool box” support provided by collaborating partners to the participants by way of IT starterpacks and/or business grants.
Clearly, with the high level of youth unemployment and underemployment, Africa is on the verge of a major developmental crises, the effects are already here with us-banditary, illegal migration, political thuggery, and terrorism. Prior to now, African youths who do not have the privilege of attending high-brow business schools on the continent and abroad have largely struggled, leading to a very high mortality rate of micro to small businesses led by young Africans. GAIN identified this gap and launched the GAIN Entrepreneurship Masterclass solving the twin problems of lack of entrepreneurship knowledge and business support grant. The program is already showing a lot of promise and is growing into a major continent-wide pipeline for churning out properly groomed young African Entrepreneurs.
Grand Africa Initiative-GAIN is a pan-African non-governmental organization empowering the youth for success in education, employment, entrepreneurship and innovation through capacity building programs, mentorship and high-level annual youth summits. With her fast-growing network of forward-thinking youths across Africa, GAIN’s programs are designed to empower and develop the youths. GAIN also partners with well-meaning individuals and organizations who share the same goals and objectives.