LETTER OF INTENT TO ACCELERATE youth entrepreneurship in Africa has been signed by African Development Bank, AfDB and Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF. The partnership would focus on strengthening small to medium size enterprises, talent and skills development and optimisation initiatives for Africa’s youth.
Statement to this effect was released by Chawki Chahed, AfDB’s Senior Communications Officer, Monday, in Abuja. He said that a total of 3,050, young entrepreneurs across 54 African countries, over the next year, would receive support under this partnership.
AfDB’s participation will enable additional 1,000 entrepreneurs to benefit from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP). It would provide much-needed opportunity to stem rising tide of unemployment and inequality facing the continent’s youngest citizens.
Chahed said the agreement was signed in Abuja, March 22, 2019. Parminder Vir, outgoing Chief Executive Officer of Tony Elumelu Foundation signed on behalf of the foundation. Mrs. Oley Dibba-Wadda, AfDB Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development, represented the Bank.
According to Chahed’s statement, Dibba-Wadda said: “Youth are not Africa’s future, but our present. When youth have the chance to succeed, economies across Africa will grow, job opportunities will increase and the quality of life for the people of Africa will improve.
“Each year, more than 12 million youth enter the labour market, yet only three million jobs are created, leaving vast number of youth unemployed. Consequently, the poverty rate among youth in sub-Saharan Africa is 70 per cent, and expected to rise if urgent action is not taken”.
“The bank is committed to reversing this trend, working with public and private sector partners to help young people secure meaningful employment”, Dibba-Wadda, added.
Incoming CEO of the Foundation, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, according to Chahed’s statement, said, in 2019, the Foundation received total of 215,000 entries from African entrepreneurs, a rise from 151,000 applications in 2018. Female representation rose from 62,000 in 2018 to 90,000 in 2019.
Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu said the rising figures demonstrated the burning desire of African entrepreneur to develop continent. “We must urgently convert this passion into viable businesses to develop our continent. This is a good signal for African youth, and a testimonial to the fact that strategic alliances between African institutions can achieve great impact for the benefit of Africa’s young men and women” she said.
Chahed said the partnership aligned with AfDB’s mission to leverage the expertise of African institutions, optimizing proven solutions that empower African youth at scale, while ensuring their active contribution to the socio-economic growth of the continent.
In 2018, AfDB secured 40 million dollars for the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund, in partnership with Governments of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands. The fund was a grant vehicle managed by the bank to support African entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Chahed said AfDB’s interventions would equip Africa’s youth with the requisite tools to establish micro, small and medium enterprises MSMEs.