British Council, Ashoka Set to Empower 1,000 African Entrepreneurs

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Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The British Council and Ashoka’s Impact Africa Social Entrepreneurship Summit, which is set to go virtual in 2021, first time since inception, is set to empower 1,000 African social entrepreneurs this year.

Making the announcement yesterday, the organisations noted that this year’s summit, is aimed at accelerating social innovations to Africa’s most pressing challenges by inspiring and connecting social entrepreneurs, change makers, investors, and other ecosystem stakeholders across sub-Saharan Africa.

The inaugural Impact Africa Summit was held in June 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa and the 2019 summit held in Nairobi, Kenya while the 2020 live event scheduled for Lagos, Nigeria had to be postponed to 2021, following disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both organisations stated that African business enterprises require new ways of defining their structures, products and value propositions and need to unlearn the status quo and develop new leadership skills across organisational, sectoral, political and geographic boundaries.

The British Council and Ashoka further announced that the summit has been extended and expanded to run as a series of programmes over 12 months to increase reach as well as open-up to a larger audience across sub-Saharan Africa.

They noted that this year’s edition will feature six plenaries every other month; six clinics every other month and three to five virtual keynotes over two days.

“The theme of this year’s Impact Africa virtual edition is ‘Resilience and Sustainability’. It will support over 1,000 social entrepreneurs with tools, skills and new knowledge to accelerate their business growth and achieve wider societal impact.

“It will be a gathering of bright and innovative young minds looking to acquire access to new networks and help them to rethink their business strategies.

“The programme content also includes an elevator pitch competition that will enable the winners gain mentorships with some of the world’s largest organisations and venture funds as well as provide the opportunity to qualify for seed funding,” the organisers stated.

According to them, the sessions will cover topics like 4th industrial revolution; digital preparedness; investment readiness; business modelling and job creation, to mention a few.

“Impact Africa Social Entrepreneurship Summit is open to young entrepreneurs in the key countries of Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa. It is anticipated to be one of the biggest social impact event on the continent.

“Our speakers range from social entrepreneurs to representatives from several major international organisations such as Microsoft, MTN, Anglo-American and SAP,” the organisers added.

British Council’s Regional Director, Moses Anibaba, said: “By delivering the summit virtually over a 12 month period, we believe that we can reach more young people and give them time to react to the tools, the content, the mentorship opportunities, the elevator pitches, and many more programmes that Impact Africa 2021 has to offer.”

Also, the Director, British Council Nigeria and Director West Africa, Lucy Pearson said: , “We also want to reach more women entrepreneurs and we want to provide access
to budding, underserved innovators.

“The British Council and Ashoka aims to use this year’s summit to further push for the creation of an ecosystem of vibrant young innovators, passionate about making a significant change to their countries and to their communities.”

In his comments, Ashoka’s Africa Diamond Leader, Pape Samb, further stressed the importance of the summit, especially in the midst of the growing disruptions caused by the pandemic .

“Studies have shown that the economic damage has been particularly severe for small and medium scale businesses, youth and women in emerging markets.

“Impact Africa has become more necessary now in delivering a social entrepreneurship ecosystem, that will develop and deliver individual impactful solutions to support relief, recovery and resilience of African communities,” the Ashoka leader stressed.