New platform set to transform prospects of Africa’s entrepreneurs

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| The European | 17 October 2019

The Africa Growth Platform, a new initiative from the World Economic Forum, has been launched with the goal of helping Africa’s community of startup enterprises grow and compete in international markets.

Announced at the recent World Economic Forum on Africa, the initiative will achieve its objectives this in three ways: firstly, by securing commitments from governments to implement policy reforms aimed at stimulating and accelerating business growth. Secondly, it aims to build a community of investors, whether private investors, foundations, multilateral institutions or corporate intrapreneurs to enable better coordination and pooling of resources that could facilitate larger subsequent rounds of funding. Third, the platform will create and sustain a community of startup businesses themselves, promoting collaboration and sharing best practices.

The need for an innovative approach to helping Africa’s startups reach the scale where they become sustainable is backed up by data. Two thirds of Africa’s 420 million young people are currently unemployed, which highlights a clear need for new solutions to drive employment growth. At the same time, Africa’s young population is well-endowed with entrepreneurial spirit – early-stage entrepreneurial activity is 13% higher than the global average. However, due to insufficient support and infrastructure, the region’s startups are 14% more likely to fail than those elsewhere in the world.

“Africa’s entrepreneurs are its greatest economic asset but spirit and resourcefulness alone are not always enough to help them succeed. Too often startups and innovative enterprises fail needlessly through lack of additional finance or overly burdensome regulations. The Africa Growth Platform brings together all the actors; governments, investors and the businesses themselves necessary to create an environment where they can fulfil their potential in terms of growth and employment,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa, World Economic Forum.

The founding members of the Africa Growth Platform are: Alibaba Group, A. T. Kearney, Dalberg Group, Export Trading Group, U.S. African Development, and Foundation Zenith Bank. The Africa Growth Platform formed a major part of the programme at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2019, which will took place 4-6 September in Cape Town, South Africa.

 The theme of the 2019 World Economic Forum on Africa was “Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The meeting welcomed more than 1,000 regional and global leaders from government, business, civil society and academia. The gathering explored new models to help Africa achieve success at a time when technology is creating dramatic economic and societal shifts. The meeting’s highly interactive programme also covered issues as diverse as skills and education, the ocean economy, the economic impact of drones, free trade and ecommerce.

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