Entrepreneurship, particularly youth entrepreneurship, is what African economies need to expand and succeed. Studies have shown that it facilitates a country’s development through promoting capital formation and regional development, creating employment opportunities, and stimulating wealth creation and distribution. That’s why to us, encouraging young business-minded innovators isn’t simply just the latest corporate fad or hobby, but a very real responsibility that we need to undertake to ensure the sustainability and success of our home – Africa – in order to ensure our own.
The recently released Anzisha Youth Entrepreneurship Survey 2016 revealed the realities that face young entrepreneurs throughout the continent, showing all stakeholders – governments, financial institutions, private enterprises and individuals – what still needs to be done to uplift these businessmen and women, and, ultimately, our economies, particularly in three key areas:
We were encouraged to see that more than three quarters of the respondents are ‘very positive’ about the future, despite the fact that, as entrepreneurs in Africa, they face some of the world’s most challenging business conditions.
More seriously, however, almost half of the respondents reported that access to funding was the biggest barrier to growth, with only 27% securing outside capital in the form of loans for their businesses.
In terms of support, only half said they were able to find a suitable business partner. 43% described the level of support in their home countries as ‘fair’, but 24% and 17% labelled it as ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ respectively.
Though there were many positives, the results suggest that more action needs to be taken to ensure the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative is secured, sustained and accelerated.
Enter the Standard Bank Incubator
As Standard Bank services a large share of market accounts in South Africa and many other African countries (19), we realised that we can help entrepreneurial businesses become contributors to economic growth. This meant that we had to rethink our strategy for entrepreneurs, as well as develop a series of programmes geared towards actively supporting the business growth of existing and potential business-banking customers. Off the back of this strategy, our now-globally recognised Incubator was launched in 2015, with the mandate of providing entrepreneurs with practical support in the form of access to corporate networks, funding, mentoring and value chains.
Overall, initiatives such as the Incubator serve to strengthen and promote economic and financial literacy, economic empowerment, and education and job creation in the long-term. This is what Africa needs to prosper, and we will continue to provide support, assistance and knowledge to keep our home - and its people - moving forward.