THE BLOG
19/04/2018 06:18 SAST | Updated 19/04/2018 06:18 SAST

Entrepreneurship: A Key Driver For African Renewal

African entrepreneurship is not about self-enrichment but about lifting Africans out of poverty.

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Is entrepreneurship the answer to Africa's unemployment crisis?

As the day breaks each day, as we rise to headlines that signal an increase in the unemployment rates and poverty levels, I am reminded of a Nigerian proverb that says, "in the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams".

The question arises – in these moments of crisis, who builds the bridges that can eradicate the scourge of poverty that continues to cripple Africa? Entrepreneurs are the unsung champions that can build these bridges.

The role of government to create an enabling environment is key to the success of many African businesses. The aspiration of a borderless Africa, a peaceful and united Africa, becomes key for poverty alleviation and job creation. Africa is the world's second-largest and second most-populous continent, with more than 1.2-billion people, notwithstanding the African diaspora. Entrepreneurship plays a key role in ensuring that jobs are created for these people.

Economic integration with the free movement of Africans between borders creates pan-African business with a continental footprint. The recent move by the African Union to establish the Single African Air Transport Market signals a continent that is committed to increasing Africa intra-trade. As the continent moves towards opening its skies for business, the African entrepreneur finds an opportunity to move beyond borders to create jobs.

In Somali, there is a proverb that says, "be a mountain, or lean on one". As entrepreneurs rise, they become the mountain that their fellows Africans can lean on for jobs. Entrepreneurship within the African context requires our entrepreneurs to toil day and night to create jobs for their fellow Africans.

As Africans ponder African solutions towards Africa's problems, entrepreneurial ideas are birthed, and jobs are created through the entrepreneurial journey.

As the African businessmen and women rise, there needs to be a continuous consciousness, in which they are bothered by the struggles of poverty and unemployment. African entrepreneurship is not about self-enrichment but about lifting Africans out of poverty.

The story of EcoBank is one of a pan-African business that continues to expand its African footprint. In October 1985, the government of Togo signed an agreement granting Ecobank Transnational Incorporated the status of an international organisation. As an African government, the government of Togo played a key role in enabling entrepreneurs to begin their walk towards success.

As African businesses continue to grow, they can draw inspiration from those who have gone before them. Such businesses can help charter the path to success with a pan-African business footprint and along the way create much-needed jobs for their fellow Africans.

Another African proverb says, "when a lion runs and looks back, it is not that he is afraid; rather, he is trying to see the distance he has covered". As African businesses rise and become greater, the onus is on the African entrepreneur to look back and see the impact that their business has had on poverty alleviation.

As Africans ponder African solutions towards Africa's problems, entrepreneurial ideas are birthed, and jobs are created through the entrepreneurial journey.