A new impact report from the Anzisha Prize has revealed that young people’s inexperience is their greatest asset for being successful entrepreneurs who create jobs for their peers. The Anzisha Prize has worked with Africa’s youngest entrepreneurs for the last 10 years.

The new report also uncovered that today’s young Africans are three times more likely than the generation before them to be unemployed, and this was before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This staggering statistic has informed the program’s work of building a movement of championing entrepreneurship as a career to solve unemployment amongst African youth.

“Our research and data over the last 10 years have proven that very young African entrepreneurs are exceptional at creating work opportunities for other youth. We are excited to share critical lessons that will inform the future of supporting young entrepreneurs and hopefully amplify how we as a continent tackle the future of work,” comments Josh Adler, Executive Director of the Anzisha Prize.

The impact report, dubbed Unlocking Africa’s hidden job creators: Lessons from ten years of supporting transitions from education to entrepreneurship in Africa, highlights 11 key lessons learned that inform how early-career entrepreneurs can be supported.

The program sheds a light on challenges within the entrepreneurship movement on the continent, including cultural aversion, weak education systems, unsupportive regulation, and a lack of market access. Working from the vantage point of an established academic institution like African Leadership Academy, the report provides focus on supporting the transition from secondary school to entrepreneurship.

Addressing various stakeholders; educators, parents, investors, policymakers, the report offers a guide on how a coordinated movement of these key influencers can change the trajectory of entrepreneurship on the continent for young people. This plan is aimed at seeing the creation of 1 million dignified work opportunities by 2030.

The Anzisha Prize has supported 142 African youth through the fellowship program that has empowered the entrepreneurs to develop their business acumen skills, access investor opportunities, and scale their ventures. To date, the entrepreneurs have created more than 2,500 jobs. A point in case is, 24-year-old Kenyan business owner Geoffrey Mulei’s journey of employing 50 young persons, of which 70% are below the age of 25, dispels the narrative that young entrepreneurs are not particularly capable.

“Young people have the greatest stake in Africa’s economic future, and the Anzisha Prize has proven that they are ready to roll up their sleeves and build that future,” said Daniel Hailu, Regional Head, Eastern and Southern Africa Mastercard Foundation.

Key highlights of the report include

  1. When young women entrepreneurs are purposefully sought out, they are easily found.
  2. Entrepreneurship is learned through practice. Entrepreneurial skills are best practiced like a sport, not taught like a class.
  3. Markets open when trust is borrowed. Investors are more willing to engage young entrepreneurs who are endorsed by established brands.
  4. Supporting parents will enable very young entrepreneurs. A widespread parental attitude shift could be the trojan horse that unlocks entrepreneurship as a career.

Despite the proven record that young entrepreneurs provide opportunities for their peers, there still needs to be attention on the support of early age transitions to entrepreneurship.