Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has urged African countries to support the youth to go beyond looking for jobs. According to him, there is the need to invest in the youth because they are Africa’s best assets.
As such, Dr. Adesina highlighted that countries must make frantic efforts to harness the entrepreneurial abilities of the youth. This, he believes, will enable the African youth to create jobs rather than waiting on the government to employ them.
“We must support the youth to go beyond looking for jobs… Unleash the entrepreneurial drive and capacities of the youth to create jobs. We must grow, finance and support large scale successes of youth -led businesses in Africa”.
The African Development Bank Head said this during a discussion on scaling up financing for the continent’s youth on Monday, May 17, 2021. The roundtable came a day ahead of the Summit on Financing African Economies.
Meanwhile, speaking at the virtual roundtable, Dr. Adesina presented a novel concept for youth entrepreneurship investment banks. The AfDB Head opined that Africa’s underinvested youth are in need of urgent attention. As a result, he noted that global support should shift towards youth entrepreneurship investment banks.
Prospects of the youth entrepreneurship investment banks
The current proposal is laudable since lack of access to finance is one of the serious bottlenecks to youth entrepreneurship. Consequently, the proposed youth entrepreneurship investment banks would coordinate financial and non-financial actors and partners to support youth entrepreneurs.
Moreover, Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya expressed strong support for the initiative.
“Spain welcomes the African Development Bank’s youth entrepreneurship investment initiative; geared towards unlocking entrepreneurship and promoting the growth of businesses of the youth”.
Furthermore, Thakkar, chair of the AfDB’s Presidential Youth Committee, advised that the youth investment banks should be scalable and self-sustaining. He further explained that it is very important to create the right incentive structures for governments to encourage the private sector to play a key role.
On her part, Yvonne Otieno, CEO, Miyonga Fresh Greens urged the world to believe in the youth and to put their hands in their pockets. She told the world to “take a risk on us. You will never regret it”. Moreover, she described her career trajectory which began in a bookshop and progressed through journalism. She then progressed steadily to starting her own business, growing French beans on 1.5 acres of land.
“Failure is only a weakness if you don’t learn from it” .Otieno
Need to create 18 to 30 million jobs annually
Research suggests that Africa needs to create 18 to 30 million jobs annually through 2030. As such, Ladi Balogun, CEO of First City Monument Bank Group, reiterated the urgency of this challenge. He said time was of the essence in terms of mounting a response as well as accelerating decision-making processes for the extension of financing to entrepreneurs. He also advised working through local money managers to achieve scale.
“We have a ticking time bomb on our hands” .Balogun
Furthermore, Participants commended the African Development Bank for taking a lead role in the effort to support youth entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, they are also calling on the Bank to play a number of roles.
For instance, Yana Kakar said the African Development Bank has an important knowledge transfer role to play. She added that the Bank has much to share about what is needed in tech-enabled segments. The Bank’s role is also critical in what might be needed to enable entrepreneurs in more production-oriented segments.
The African Development Bank has demonstrated its strong commitment to the youth of Africa. Through its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, the Bank sought to help create 25 million direct and indirect jobs, and empower 50 million youth by 2025. The institution has also set up a $40 million trust fund. This is in partnership with several European countries to advance youth entrepreneurship and innovation. Dr. Adesina Dr. Adesina