Africa has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a young, and quickly growing population. This large, dynamic youth cohort represents a demographic dividend and if appropriately managed will turn the major challenges of unemployment, economic transformation, green and sustainable development in the continent into opportunities. Youth entrepreneurship makes up an important segment of the micro, small and medium enterprise sectors. With the right knowledge, skills, mentorship, financial resources and enabling policies, youth-led enterprises can grow economies and create job opportunities.
According to the report “Profiling from parity unlocking the potential of women businesses in Africa” of the World Bank Group, women make up 58 % the continent’s self-employed population. However, women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa continue to earn lower profits than men (34 % less on average) facing different constraints than men ranging from contextual factors such as legal discrimination and social norms, endowments factors among others education/skills, confidence/risk preferences, finance and assets, networks and information, etc.
The project aims to set up a framework that brings together actors and stakeholders of the green innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa to identify and ideate solutions, organize and support innovations, innovators and entrepreneurs with a focus on women and youth. The framework builds on the result of the analysis, assessment and classification of African start-ups, innovations and promising market segments and the mapping of actors and stakeholders and structure of the Green Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in five green sectors namely renewable energy, water management, smart agriculture, climate actions and waste management.
Furthermore, it consists of a virtual environment with appropriated courses to strengthen entrepreneurial and hard skills of youths and women in the selected green sectors, a blueprint and a technical implementation of a reference virtual Incubator and accelerator at Pan African level with appropriated services such as mentoring, networking, infrastructure and resources, seed funding, etc. A community of practice around the topic of green innovation and Entrepreneurship in Africa, a Pan African Green Entrepreneurship Policy and Knowledge Hub will be established to analyse the interactions among stakeholders of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and provide policy and recommendations for the improvement of the ecosystem.
In the YW-GE project, UNU coordinates a consortium of partners including Pan African university Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (incl. Climate Change - PAUWES), AfriLabs, VC4A and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) and apart from project coordination, UNU will lead the development of an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem as well as structuring of a capacity building program.
The project is funded by IDRC (International Development Research Centre).