A Report on Supporting Small-Scale Youth Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa

In partnership with Mastercard Foundation, the Youth Think Tank is a youth-led research network. It trains and mentors young people to conduct research, collect evidence, and document youth needs, challenges, and aspirations. 

Supporting Small-Scale Entrepreneurs

In 2020 the Youth Think Tank developed research asking the question “how can development practitioners, policymakers, and academics better support small-scale entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and create employment opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa?”  

21 young researchers from African states have launched a new report that calls for a rethink of how young entrepreneurs on the continent are supported so that they can fulfil their potential in tackling the youth unemployment crisis. 

Despite youth entrepreneurship representing a large proportion of the work that is done in Sub-Saharan Africa, the researchers found that existing policy and interventions designed to create jobs and lower unemployment are largely overlooking and failing to support young entrepreneurs. 

Speaking to more than 1000 young entrepreneurs across seven countries in Africa, the research found that they had a strong aspiration to use their businesses to tackle the unemployment crisis but needed better support in specific areas including:

  • Tailored support with business plans to help expand their workforce
  • Support to develop competitive strategies in their markets
  • Tailored skill-building and financial capital from trusted sources
  • Support to digitise their businesses following the COVID-19 pandemic

Key Findings  

  • Young people can be a part of the solution to the employment challenge when supported to do so.  
  • With support, young entrepreneurs can better understand their markets before seeking business opportunities.  
  • Young entrepreneurs can grow their businesses by building their competitive advantage.  
  • Young entrepreneurs need access to tailored skill-building opportunities and financial capital from trusted sources to grow their businesses.
  •   Young entrepreneurs are building their resilience to COVID-19 and adapting their businesses to the ‘new normal’.  

The report was created based on research carried out by 21 members of the Mastercard Foundation Youth Think Tank. The researchers come from and collected data in, seven African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

For more on this, download the report below;

Click here to download


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