Increasing the Impact of Business Incubators and Accelerators in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Increasing the Impact of Business Incubators and Accelerators in Sub-Saharan Africa

Date: June 29th 2021, Time: 2pm GMT
Venue: online (via ZOOM) Register Here


Background

According to a report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2017, the informal economy accounts for between 20 and 65% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Sub-Saharan African (SSA). This sector represents up to 70% of employment in some countries, i.e. about 80% of total employment for women and 60% for men, most of which are very vulnerable (African Development Bank, 2017). For many years, it has remained omnipresent in both urban and rural areas, employing the majority of the working population. However, the predominance of informal enterprises in this region of the world is not without effect on the development of the various countries. It remains a major obstacle to the improvement of the business climate and weakens the position of economies on the international scene, while depriving them of the fiscal resources necessary to carry out structural investments.

To address the many challenges posed by the informal sector and to promote private sector development, Africa needs support to close the gap related to the acknowledged lack of essential skills to enable a business project to become sustainable. This explains the flurry of business incubators and accelerators that have been springing up on the continent for several years. As elsewhere in the world, these business support structures have become almost indispensable. Over the last decade, the number of accelerators and incubators worldwide has increased fivefold, from 560 in 2009 to 2616 in 2018 (link). Serving the burgeoning start-up ecosystem, first-generation incubators built their service offering around standard start-up support, consisting of office space, mentoring and networking. At the same time, accelerators addressed the issues of differentiation through investment and access to technology.

In SSA, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for more than 90 per cent of all enterprises, of which 70-80 per cent are micro and very small enterprises. They are the main source of employment and income for Africans, after subsistence farming” (Tadesse, 2009, p. 17). However, more than 85% of these businesses do not survive the fifth year of operation. In contrast, businesses that go through an incubation process generally have a survival rate of over 80% after five years of operation. Business incubators and accelerators therefore contribute to the sustainability of companies through rigorous professional support, monitoring of management methods and an omnipresent back office for legal, tax and accounting issues. The main stake is to develop an economic model more connected to innovation, and to create value-added wealth. As opposed to business accelerators, which are aimed at already autonomous and well-developed companies seeking to raise funds and increase their growth, incubators offer young entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring innovative project ideas to fruition and to develop them serenely.

The World Bank and the International Association of Mobile Operators report that Africa now has more than 443 support structures, compared to only ten or so at the beginning of the decade. However, their development remains slow compared to other regions of the world due to a number of constraints they face. If the importance of these structures, which are booming in Africa, is no longer questioned, it is nevertheless true that they are still mostly very young, isolated, with very heterogeneous levels of professionalism from one end of Africa to the other, and a lack of means or adapted tools. According to Christian Jekinnou, coordinator of the Africa Innovation Programme, “despite their best efforts, the business support structures will not enable the beneficiary entrepreneurs to overcome the main difficulties of their ecosystem and growth. For him, if these structures do not improve their effectiveness, efficiency and do not develop further, their impact on growth, disruptive innovation and job creation will remain limited.

Aware of the need to address these shortcomings, the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation is organizing the first edition of the Social Entrepreneurship Discussion on the theme: “Increasing the Impact of Business Incubators and Accelerators in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

Objectives and key issue

The main objective of this event is to provide a platform for high-level experts to address the requirements for successful development of incubators and accelerators in SSA. The discussion will center around the challenges faced by incubators and accelerators in SSA and the strategies to increase their impact on the economies. Specifically, it will provide an opportunity to:

  • Present the stakes and opportunities of business incubators and accelerators for the development of social entrepreneurship in SSA;
  • Present the obstacles for the development of business incubators and accelerators in SSA;
  • Increase understanding of the role that business incubators and accelerators can play in promoting social innovation in SSA;
  • Develop strategies to increase the impact of incubators and accelerators in specially on the development of private sector.

Venue and date

The discussion is scheduled for June 29th 2021, online (via ZOOM) at 2pm GMT. This webinar will also be streamed live on the social networks of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation.

Target audience & participation

The audience consists of incubators and accelerators, government representatives, academics, researchers and students, speakers, social entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations, civil society and public representatives etc. It is a unique opportunity to better inform on the reforms needed for SSA Countries to achieve its development by promoting the private sector and social entrepreneurship. In addition, this event will create a platform for professional development and effective policy discourse.

Participation in the event is FREE. However, people wishing to participate are requested to register beforehand through the link available on the website of the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation.

Panelists and Moderator

Panelists

Mr. Nelson Amo, CEO, Innohub | Executive Director, Ghana Tech Lab | Founder, Accra Angels, Network | President, DT Automated Systems Limited,Ghana

Moderator

Mrs. Fri. L. Asanga, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation,

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