ENTERPRISE54 – At the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Liverpool in 2012, GEW’s principal leaders from across the African continent sat down our global staff to call for a change in our approach to promoting entrepreneurship in Africa. GEW had grown to 140 countries very deliberately using a global “one size fits all” strategy that had
ENTERPRISE54 – At the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Liverpool in 2012, GEW’s principal leaders from across the African continent sat down our global staff to call for a change in our approach to promoting entrepreneurship in Africa. GEW had grown to 140 countries very deliberately using a global “one size fits all” strategy that had worked in building a global ecosystem for mutual support… except in Africa.
We heard the message and got to work. Within a few months, we began working on a new partnership with the US State Department to do more for nascent African entrepreneurs. Through the vision of Thomas Debass and the Office of Partnerships, the [email protected] Partnership was born with Microsoft, infoDev, VC4Africa, the African Development Bank, and Venture Hive among others, to do more to boost entrepreneurship in Africa. Together, we have helped bring DEMO to Africa twice, advanced efforts like Africoderdojo, brought African entrepreneurs to the U.S., launched boot camps and educational programs on the ground and offered Africa.co as a guide for aspiring entrepreneurs looking for resources and networks and a place to tell their story.
With so much more work to be done, we are pleased to report that the U.S. Department of State has extended its agreement with GEW around this work and increased funding over the next 18 months to facilitate these efforts to support new firm formation in Africa.
We are also especially pleased to announce a new grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Similar to philanthropists like Ewing Marion Kauffman, the late Sir John Templeton understood that “without economic freedom, individual freedom was fragile and vulnerable.” We are therefore especially proud to join with the Templeton Foundation in helping promote free markets in Africa.
Next month we will begin expanding our work in Africa by:
- Increasing the number of countries with GEW leadership from 31 to 40, and developing new “GEN” Boards to guide national efforts in 10 African nations;
- Generating up-to-date national entrepreneurial ecosystem maps and national resource libraries;
- Releasing an index that uses 15 indicators to measure the health of the entrepreneurship ecosystems in more than 120 countries;
- Finding, telling and learning from the stories of African high-impact entrepreneurs;
- Aggregating this important data and material into central, easy-to use country hubs that can help guide future grants and investments toward the real gaps in the ecosystem;
- Offering an Africa wide snapshot of the developments across the continent and opportunities for collaboration at Africa.co;
- Supporting entrepreneurship education programs on the ground;
- Supporting upcoming US government convened Global Entrepreneurship Summits in Africa;
- Increasing opportunities for African startup community leaders to connect and learn from the best emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world through three global gatherings outside of Africa that connect them in person to those who are having success in improving the performance of their local entrepreneurial ecosystems; and,
- Supporting DEMO Africa in Lagos, Nigeria and other major startup events on the continent.
To achieve these goals, GEW will recruit more local board leadership, hire two new staff, and contract with a dozen curators on the ground throughout the continent. GEW’s Director for African Initiatives, Nick Vilelle, will re-locate to Accra, Ghana to be closer and more engaged in the ecosystems we are trying to understand and support.
As I mentioned in my August 11 blog post on Africa, young entrepreneurs are starting to rebrand Africa. Today we have an opportunity to play our part in the development of that new generation of African entrepreneurs. We are therefore especially proud that, on the heels of the US – Africa Leaders’ Summit earlier this month in Washington, DC, GEW is poised to deepen its engagement and investment on the African continent.
If you are passionate about entrepreneurship in Africa and are interested in openings or supporting our partnership with the U.S. State Department around Africa.co, further information is available here. If you are an entrepreneur or an organization in Africa and want to join our collaborative effort, send an email to Nick Vilelle and he will be happy to link you into an ever-growing network of committed people and organizations. You can also stay involved and get updates by following us on Twitter and Facebook.
Editor’s Post: This piece first appeared on Global Entrepreneurship Week