Microsoft is expanding its partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support Africa’s youth entrepreneurs under the bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIB) Initiative.
Through its African Transformation Office (ATO), Microsoft will work with the bank to develop youth entrepreneurship ecosystems, create jobs and dramatically scale impact in Africa through digital inclusion.
According to a joint statement released by Microsoft and the AfDB, Africa’s young population is expected to double in size by 2050, reaching 830 million. Though 10 to 12 million youth join the continent’s workforce every year, just over 3 million jobs are created, meaning large numbers of people remain unemployed.
The stakeholders add that youth entrepreneurship will go a long way to solving the employment challenge, but lack of investment, affordable access to finance and quality business development services still present significant hurdles.
General Manager of Microsoft Africa Regional Cluster Wael Elkabbany, said, “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.”
He added, “Already we’ve seen considerable success partnering together on initiatives such as Coding for Employment, which set out to create over 9 million jobs and reach 32 million youth and women across Africa in just 10 years.”
AfDB Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation Solomon Quaynor commented: “The strengthening of our partnership with Microsoft on the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIB) is an important development in our journey towards harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend and facilitating the creation of millions of jobs for young Africans by 2025. The initiative places much-needed focus on youth entrepreneurship, which is key to achieving our ambitious employment targets.”
Stakeholders said the partnership seeks to support the establishment of national-level institutions through a public-private collaboration model to scale up 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 programs 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 action on key technology solutions across four key areas. These include skilling, connectivity, SME digitisation and endpoint devices.
Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh, Strategic Partnerships Lead, Microsoft ATO, said: “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 building a more prosperous future for everyone.”