5 Development Organizations that are Inclusively Upscaling Africa’s Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship has been identified as the catalyst that can leapfrog Africa out of poverty. This realization has spurred many organizations and individuals to launch initiatives aimed at addressing the unemployment rate and poverty reduction on the continent.

The organizations listed here are empowering Africans with training, mentorship, access to finance, structure building, and scalability opportunities. They are also providing tools that youth, women and marginalized groups require to succeed locally, and in a global context.

  1. The Tony Elumelu Foundation

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is one of the leading champions of entrepreneurship in Africa. The organization’s objective is to empower women and men across Africa, catalyze economic growth, drive poverty eradication and ensure job creation. It believes the private sector’s role is critical for Africa’s development and that the private sector must create both social and economic wealth. The Foundation is active in all 54 African countries.

In 2015, the Foundation launched the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, a $100 million commitment by Tony Elumelu to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over 10 years. Building on the Programme’s success and its unique ability to identify, mentor and fund entrepreneurs across Africa, the Foundation is increasingly sharing its robust delivery platform and working in partnership with institutions such as United Nations Development Programme, the African Development Bank, the International Committee of the Red Cross, GIZ, and United Bank for Africa Plc, to create meaningful and permanent impact across Africa.

Thus far, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has trained, mentored, and funded over 9,000 young African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries through its Entrepreneurship Programmes, and provides capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages to over 1 million Africans through its digital networking platform, TEFConnect.

  1. Village Enterprise

The Village Enterprise believes in the power of the entrepreneurial spirit to transform lives. They currently operate in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mozambique.

Their poverty graduation program equips Africans living in extreme poverty with cash transfers, training, and mentoring to create income-generating, sustainable businesses, and savings groups, permanently breaking the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. Digital technology and a group-based approach make this more scalable and cost-effective than traditional approaches. Over 80% of their entrepreneurs are female, ensuring greater gender equity and increased opportunities for women and families.

The organization has deep roots in Africa. For over 30 years, they have worked in rural African communities where most people live on $1.90 a day or less. Through partnerships with governments and other NGOs, the organization plans to continue to expand throughout sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of lifting 20 million inhabitants out of extreme poverty by 2030.

Working in collaboration with USAID, UKAID, a private foundation, the Global Development Incubator, Instiglio, IDinsight, and private investors, Village Enterprise is proud to be implementing the first-ever development impact bond (DIB) in poverty alleviation in Africa. They will build on this unique experience to launch future results-based funding (RBF) projects. Join them in championing results-based funding!

  1. The Anzisha Prize Program

The Anzisha Program is a partnership between the African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation that seeks to increase the number of job generative entrepreneurs fundamentally and significantly in Africa. The organization believes that a key to doing so is to test, implement and then share models for identifying, training and connecting high potential, very young entrepreneurs (15 to 22-year-olds) so that many more organisations have better collective success in creating a pipeline of entrepreneurs with the capabilities for scale.

The movement is a layered approach to servicing very young entrepreneurs on the continent. They seek to use various prizes, programs, resources and the theory of change to catalyze not only the belief in very young entrepreneurs but the creation of an ecosystem (parents, educators, policymakers and investors) that supports entrepreneurship as a viable career choice.

  1. Mest Africa

MEST is an Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa. Founded in Ghana in 2008, MEST provides critical skills training, funding, and support in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s tech entrepreneurs. Hubs are located in Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya.

MEST is funded by the Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit arm of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence and Outside Insight.

MEST consists of a 1-year training program at their Headquarters in Accra, Ghana, followed by support and mentorship through their hub network across Africa. All members of MEST become part of the Africa-wide tech community, and receive access to a network of mentors, entrepreneurs, corporate partners and more.

  1. She Leads Africa

She Leads Africa is a platform that gives women the community, information and inspiration they need to live the lives of their dreams.

The organization is committed to helping smart and ambitious young African women live their best lives.

Two of the organization’s flagship programs are:

a. Motherland Mogul Insider (MMI): This is a private, digital community for young African female professionals and entrepreneurs who are looking to unlock their potential and accomplish their goals. Participants get access to premium learning videos, articles, podcasts, worksheets, and events led by industry experts for each month that they subscribe to.

b. The High Growth Coaching Program (HGCP): This is an exclusive opportunity to develop an action plan for female businesses with support from a personal business coach and a community of women to keep participants accountable. This is a digital program open to women led businesses across Nigeria.

These organizations are making a huge impact on the Africa continent and we are proud of the work they are doing. Do you have an initiative to share?  Do you know of organizations doing great development work?  We invite you to send us an email here.

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