Stimulating entrepreneurship is an essential ingredient when wanting to grow economies in Africa, a continent that is plagued by poverty and unemployment, particularly among the youth. Various reports have shown that SMEs are key in driving job creation, thus prosperity. Most countries in the region, however, are lagging in terms of helping entrepreneurs succeed and grow their ventures. West Africa Ambassador Michael Alimo, who hails from Ghana, believes that Africa can solve the bulk of its socio-economic challenges with better and appropriate education, more government investment in the structural development of small businesses, and better overall macroeconomic conditions.
Poverty is one of the most pressing challenges the African continent faces today. According to a recent Worldbank report, 43% of Africans are living in poverty. Whilst this is better than in 1990 when poverty stood at 56% of the population, the situation is far from satisfactory.
Driving the youth
Battling this disease requires one to harness the power of small business owners and innovators. Creating more jobs and sustaining economic growth can only be achieved if prospecting entrepreneurs can leave their comfort zones and put their ideas into practice. The question is: how can we drive people, youth in particular, onto the path of entrepreneurship?
There are key factors on which a thriving culture of entrepreneurship depends on. These include education, government assistance, and a sound economic climate.
Education to refine skills
Entrepreneurship education gives youth the right tools to develop scalable solutions that drive growth, fight poverty and improve overall standards of living. Higher learning and the right vocational training, in particular, are important in enhancing and refining people’s skills.
In this light, African governments should also look at dealing with the mismatch of skills whilst overhauling the curriculum to include entrepreneurship: many universities and colleges in Africa mainly produce job seekers, not job creators. Institutions of higher learning and colleges should be part of fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.
Role of government
Secondly, policymakers need to introduce programs that offer assistance to individuals who want to set up their own ventures to solve social challenges, ultimately creating jobs. Besides providing training, counselling, mentorship programs, tax breaks, funding opportunities, start-up seeds and other incentives, governments ought to go a step further by holding accountable those individuals who sign up for these and other entrepreneurship benefits.
Finally, for Africa to grow its economy and its community of entrepreneurs and change makers, economic structures ought to be streamlined to make conditions favourable for small business owners to thrive as well as investors who seek to invest in these ventures. Streamlining public policies and strategies should also promote competition amongst small enterprises. Competition encourages growth and innovation, making economies more competitive.
Without a shred of doubt, the success and prosperity of Africa lie within the hands of its people and its entrepreneurs. Africa, now more than ever, requires innovative individuals to help governments tackle the continent’s most pressing problems in an entrepreneurial approach.
About the author: Michael Alimo from Ghana is Afrinection's East Africa Ambassador. He is an experienced writer and passionate about Africa and entrepreneurship.