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Young African entrepreneurs pledge to turn youth unemployment into opportunity

24 May 2019

Young business leaders from 17 African countries have explored fresh solutions to overcome employment and entrepreneurship challenges at a workshop in Tanzania. Africa has a greater proportion of young people than any other continent – so youth livelihoods are an urgent priority.

The workshop was hosted by the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-Africa (CAYE-Africa) and supported by the Commonwealth. It aimed at empowering young business leaders to forge a new direction for the alliance and agree on key issues affecting youth employability in the region.

During the workshop, young entrepreneurs identified five key interventions to prioritise under the alliance which was established in 2016. These interventions are:

  1. addressing knowledge gaps;
  2. reforming the regulatory frameworks;
  3. building digital capacities and capabilities;
  4. advancing financial inclusion; and
  5. integrating and strengthening youth entrepreneurship networks.

Gerald Chirinda, the founder of Kenya’s Future Africa Forum, said that young people are rising up and taking a lead in coming up with solutions to local challenges.

“When I look at young Africans, I see a demographic dividend that just requires the tools and environment to enable them to tackle the challenges of our time which include youth unemployment.”

Young leaders proposed new ideas which will be part of the alliance’s mandate. These ideas included engaging with governments to support new businesses and hosting a youth-led summit on entrepreneurship to share the best practices from the region.

Sushil Ram, a programme manager in the Commonwealth’s social policy section, spoke at the workshop. “The Commonwealth is excited to support the formation of the alliance, especially within a region which has so many passionate and talented young entrepreneurs, all ambitious to grow their businesses and contribute to their countries’ prosperity,” he said.

“As well as driving trade within and across borders, the alliance will give young entrepreneurs a voice with policymakers to enhance the entrepreneurship ecosystem and the sharing of good practice.”

Young leaders recognised that the alliance’s current “network of networks” model requires a more targeted and engaged approach. They said the existing model did not effectively support the urgent need of young entrepreneurs’ to address the challenges they face. The new approach will provide them with a strong platform to showcase new businesses, build networks and promote trade.

The Commonwealth Youth Programme supports the Alliance in its work to encourage young people to go into business.

The CAYE’s regional networks, including CAYE-Asia and CAYE-Caribbean and Canada, seek to nurture young entrepreneurs and unify their voices at national and international forums to influence policy and practice.

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