The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Microsoft and have initiated a program dubbed Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIB), which will facilitate access to finance to underserved young entrepreneurs.
The facility will benefit tech-based start-ups in countries such as Kenya where the digital penetration as well as the motivation for innovation is high, but the level of funding to implement ideas is low.
Under the initiative, the two institutions will also establish a technical assistance program to train providers of financial services on how to develop solutions that are tailored to the needs of these SMEs.
“Youth entrepreneurship will go a long way in solving the employment challenge in Africa. But a lack of investment, affordable access to finance, and quality business development services still present significant hurdles,” noted AfDB Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure, and Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor.
The bank will also bring together relevant financial and non-financial partners to collectively support youth entrepreneurs through mentorship, coaching, knowledge and experience sharing.
The partnership further seeks to support the establishment of national-level institutions through a public-private collaboration model to scale up technical and financial support for youth entrepreneurs.
In terms of policy support, the two multinationals will also advocate to governments for the business-enabling environment reforms needed to catalyse youth entrepreneurship.
Under skilling, the program will provide youth entrepreneurs with career pathways and learning content. This includes the use of existing e-learning platforms such as Coding for Employment.
The initiative also aims to build the capacity of Enterprise Services Organisations, benefitting youth through training trainers.
Under SME digitisation, the aim is to improve digital literacy and business skills by creating access to curated learning content, certifications, business solutions, business skills, and specialised digital skills.
This will be driven in partnership with LinkedIn and through skilling programs such as MS Learn and the Cloud Academy.
Access to finance for digitally enabled SMEs will also be facilitated through Microsoft partnerships. Under the hardware cluster, SMEs will gain access to bundled hardware solutions created by Microsoft and its partners. SMEs will also be able to purchase Microsoft technology at discounted prices.