The 6th EU-Africa Business Forum held this week in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, with an emphasis on job creation and investment in young people. The central theme of the Forum is “Investing in Job Creation for Youth.”
The EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF) is an integral part of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) which brings together African and European business leaders representing multi-nationals, large corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises and confederations, and multilateral and regional institutions to discuss how to improve the business and investment climate between Africa and the EU.
CEO, Parminder Vir was on a high level panel on Investing in Job Creation for Youth.” Speaking on the panel, Parminder shared on Founder, Tony Elumelu’s dream of democratizing luck and opportunities and how this has led to the Tony Elumelu Foundation. She further shared on the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme as the main tool which the foundation drives job creation across Africa and how the programme takes a holistic look at the needs of entrepreneurs and supports them through training, mentorship, funding and networking. She called on the global community to take a different approach to philanthropy taking cues from the TEF model.
Also speaking on the need for investment in job creation, African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina called for a change of mindset when dealing with youth on the continent.
“Young people aren’t looking for help, they are looking for the right environment to flourish,” he said.
Noting that 66 million young people are idling away in rural parts of the continent without jobs, he said there was a need to take a risk and invest in them.
Investing in the youth in agriculture as a business is the way to go, he said, especially given that the average age of African farmers is currently 65 years in a continent which spends US $35 billion annually on food imports despite having 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land. This call for investment in Agriculture is also reflective in the TEF report on Unleashing Africa’s Agricultural Entrepreneurs and in the application to the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship which has seen Agriculture leading with up to 29% of selected applicants in 2017
In closing, Parminder called on entrepreneurs to take advantage of the benefits the TEF programme offers and take part when the application website opens in January 1. She also called on investors to take a look at the investable pipeline of innovative entrepreneurs who have been through the TEF programme and are transforming Africa through their ideas.
With an approximate 30 million young people arriving on the job market every year, Figures show an increasing number of young people are establishing leading business across Africa but there remains a gap in the amount of female led businesses. This dearth of female businesses was a course of discussion at an interactive session themed “Youth and Women: A Driving Force to Deliver Inclusive Growth” at the EU-Africa Business Summit.
Discussing at the session which included Stefano Manservisi, Director General, Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission, Sidi Tiémoko Touré, Ministre de la Promotion de la Jeunesse, de l’Emploi des Jeunes et du Service Civique, Republique de Cote d’Ivoire, Thione Niang, Give1Project, John Wali, Chief Operating Officer, Junior Achievement, Kenya and Verone Mankou, Chief Executive Officer, VMK, Congo, Parminder shared that entrepreneurship is a key role to tackling unemployment on the continent and that support through policies, training, funding and network for women and youths will bring down unemployment rate significantly.
While in Abidjan Parminder also met with entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the SME ecosystem to discuss the challenges of entrepreneurs within Cote d’Ivoire.
Discussions at this gathering showed the impact entrepreneurship has in Cote d’Ivoire and the need for support. This event had in attendance TEF Alumni members from Cote d’Ivoire, ecosystem stakeholders, members of leading entrepreneurship hub – CO.Lab and the General Confederation of Enterprises of Cote d’Ivoire – CGECI.