AfDB, Microsoft partner to support young entrepreneurs

FILE PHOTO: A Microsoft logo is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The African Development Bank says it has strengthened partnership with Microsoft to scale technical and financial support for young entrepreneurs.

According to a statement, the partnership with the African Development Bank to support Africa’s youth entrepreneurs was part of the bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIB) initiative.

Through its African Transformation Office, Microsoft would work with the bank to develop youth entrepreneurship ecosystems, creating jobs and dramatically scaling impact in Africa through digital inclusion, the statement said.

With Africa’s young population expected to double in size by 2050 to 830 million, youth employment is likely to be on the rise, according to the statement.

The noted that youth entrepreneurship would go a long way to solving the employment challenge in Africa, but lack of investment, affordable access to finance and quality business development services still presented significant hurdles.

“We believe much can be done to help foster youth entrepreneurship by collaborating with the African Development Bank, driving greater economic inclusion for this key segment of the population, and ultimately building a more prosperous society,” said the General Manager of Microsoft Africa Regional Cluster, Wael Elkabbany.

“Already we’ve seen considerable success partnering together on initiatives such as Coding for Employment, which aims to equip millions of African youth with employable skills, ultimately creating broadscale employment.”

The African Development Bank Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor, described the partnership as an important development in the journey towards harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend and facilitating the creation of millions of jobs for young Africans by 2025.

He said, “The initiative places much-needed focus on youth entrepreneurship, which is key to achieving our ambitious employment targets.”

According to the statement, the partnership sought to support the establishment of national-level institutions through a public-private collaboration model to scale technical and financial support for youth entrepreneurs and build their capacity.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank is a unique value proposition set up by the African Development Bank that anchors and integrates efforts to develop entrepreneurship ecosystems in Africa.

Through this initiative, the bank will bring together all relevant financial and non-financial parties and partners to play their respective roles in supporting youth entrepreneurs through mentorship, coaching, knowledge and experience sharing, and more.

Collaborating with both private sectors and partners, the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank will establish a funding scheme, credit guarantee scheme, and technical assistance programmes to strengthen providers of services to entrepreneurs. In terms of policy support, it will advocate to governments for the business enabling environment reforms needed to catalyse youth entrepreneurship.

Microsoft will also leverage its partner ecosystem, which covers 54 countries across the continent, to effect action on key technology solutions across four key areas. These include skilling, connectivity, small-to-medium enterprise (SME) digitization and hardware.

“We’re excited about the potential of this collaboration to magnify the work Microsoft is doing around digital inclusion in Africa. The digital economy plays an important part in giving rise to innovative new ventures that will create sustainable employment for young Africans. The more we can ensure budding young entrepreneurs are given every opportunity to participate in the digital economy, the closer we get to build a more prosperous future for everyone,” concluded Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh, Strategic Partnerships Lead, Microsoft ATO.