The Chairman of Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa Plc has identified three major policy measures that will turn around the fortunes of young African entrepreneurs.
He told CNN’s Richard Quest that young African entrepreneurs are intelligent and need opportunities like their pairs in developed world.
On Tuesday, Tony Elumelu Foundation and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) signed an agreement to support youth entrepreneurship in Africa at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
The funding agreement targets young Africans particularly in poorer African countries.
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are expected to face demographic challenge when their population doubles to 1.7 billion by 2050.
It is projected that the LDC youth population aged 15 to 24 years will grow to 300 million by 2050.
In Africa, young entrepreneurs are facing severe structural setbacks which has hindered their growth.
Elumelu in his interview said African youths need enabling environment, cheap capital and mentorship to succeed.
He also revealed his fears as inflation affects interest rates in the developed markets and its impact on emerging market like Africa.
The Nigerian philanthropist said, “I’m very worried (about the effect of high interest rates in developed world on emerging markets), but you know the glass is half full. What I see in emerging markets is that even though there is inflation, interest rates go up and create more problems, we also see a lot of opportunities on the continent and most emerging markets.
“I think that prioritizing the young ones investing in their future will help us create ultimately sustainable economic prosperity for all.
“So, what I see, I don’t see despair, I see opportunity for us to do more so that we can create the kind of prosperity that will move the world towards more boom rather than us being scared of recession.”
According to Elumelu, to fix the issue of poverty in Africa, entrepreneurs and governments need to fix the issues hindering the potentials of entrepreneurs in the continent.
He said, “We need three things in unlocking the potentials of the young ones. First, we need the enabling environment. That our government create an enabling environment that enables the young ones succeed. Access to electricity is so difficult in Africa and without electricity you can’t do much as an entrepreneur. So, you need to fix that.
“Two, young entrepreneurs in Africa need access to capital – affordable capital that will help them prove their cause and that is why in the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we provide seed capital. A non-refundable seed capital of $5,000. Not because we have much, but because we want to give opportunity to the young African to enable them prove their concepts, so that collectively, all of us can develop Africa and empower Africa to economic prosperity.
“And the third thing they need, they need business education and mentoring. They need successful African business leaders for us to show example. For us to embrace their thoughts; for us to show them how to walk the path and also have them leverage on our supply chain, so that we will give them a helping hand.
“All of us are where we are today because at some point in our business development and entrepreneurship journey, with got opportunity, we got a helping hand. We got a platform to support us. So, those three things will help young African entrepreneurs to do well.”