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Youth Entrepreneurship Programme launched in Sub-Saharan Africa to help high-potential entrepreneurs generate more jobs

Youth Business International (YBI) in partnership with the Argidius Foundation announced the launch of a three-year regional ‘High Flyers’ Youth Entrepreneurship Programme, an initiative that will enable underserved youth in Sub-Saharan Africa to scale sustainable businesses thus generating jobs and strengthening local communities.

Funded by the Argidius Foundation, Government of Uganda, Accenture and Enterprise Uganda, the ‘High Flyers’ Youth Entrepreneurship Programme is implemented by YBI in partnership with two of its members: Enterprise Uganda and ICCO Uganda.

While the economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa is positive, youth unemployment rates are still on the rise. Despite entrepreneurship becoming a viable solution in tackling this issue, business survival and growth represent major challenges. In 2014, only 2% of Ugandan businesses planned to employ more than 20 people in the next five years.

To address these issues, the ‘High Flyers’ Youth Entrepreneurship Programme plans to provide 1700 young high-potential entrepreneurs in Uganda with financial and non-financial support including enterprise training (focused on access to markets, value addition and value chain integrations), ongoing mentoring support, access to finance and additional business development support. In addition to this, the programme aims to help these entrepreneurs increase their income and generate 1700 new paid jobs.

As part of the programme, YBI together with the consortium of partners will also establish a cross African Regional Community of Practice. This initiative will act as platform for YBI member organisations in Africa enabling them to share knowledge and expertise, products and services and collaborate in tackling the common challenges faced in the region.

Anita Tiessen, CEO of Youth Business International said: 

“The partnership with the Argidius Foundation and the Government of Uganda will enable our regional approach to youth entrepreneurship programmes to ensure scale of impact through combining the resources, knowledge and expertise of our members working in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Nicholas Colloff, Executive Director commented: “Equipped with the right skills and resources, young people have the potential to transform the communities in which they live. Our partnership with Youth Business International and their member organisations acts as catalyst for development and sustainability of high potential businesses that will create jobs and support economic growth.”

Marinus Verweij, CEO of ICCO Cooperation added: “Uganda has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. The ‘High Flyers’ programme helps to grow existing businesses of young people so that they can absorb more labour force. The partnership and ICCO’s expertise and networks will provide great support to young entrepreneurs and sustainable entrepreneurship.”

“Uganda has for long been lauded for being at the forefront in terms of entrepreneurship and business start-ups" commented Charles Ocici, CEO of Enterprise Uganda. "On the other hand the country is among the worst performers when it comes to scaling and sustaining created enterprises. This is the cause of the phenomenon termed the ‘Missing middle’ or a dearth of vibrant small and medium size businesses. Thanks to the High Flyer Youth Entrepreneurship Programme, the 1,700 beneficiary businesses shall be provided with suitable training and mentorship solutions that address challenges that come with business formalization and expansion. Further, the lessons derived from the Programme shall be shared with practitioners and stakeholders supporting business start-up programmes in Uganda.”

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