An Entrepreneurial Partnership

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The British Council and Ashoka’s Impact Africa Social Entrepreneurship Summit has gone virtual in 2021. Rebecca Ejifoma reports that the overall objective of the partnership is to accelerate 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

On January 21, 2021, British Council and Ashoka announced the launch of the virtual edition of Impact Africa Social Entrepreneurship Summit. The summit, is aimed at accelerating social innovations to Africa’s most pressing challenges by inspiring and connecting social entrepreneurs, changemakers, investors, and other ecosystem stakeholders across sub-Saharan Africa.

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

The incidence of the pandemic, in many ways has unveiled the disproportionate abilities of entrepreneurs across Africa to pivot. To creatively adapt and continue to build their businesses in the new-normal. The complexity of the challenges facing humanity during this COVID-19 timesrequires a fundamental re-design of Africa’s social and economic systems to align with ecological and cultural realities that advance business equity.

This requires a new mind-set to drive businesses agility; to embrace technology as well as collaborate across geographical boundaries, digitally. African business enterprises require new ways of defining their structures, products and value propositions. They need to unlearn the status quo and develop new leadership skills across organisational, sectoral, political and geographic boundaries in a social context of expanding volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

To this end, Impact Africa has been re-designed and re-imagined as a virtual event for the first time. It has also been extended and expanded to run as a series of programmes over12 months to increase reach as well as open-up to a larger audience across sub-Saharan Africa, featuring six plenariesevery other month; six clinics every other month and 3-5 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.

With sessions that cover topics like 4th Industrial Revolution; Digital Preparedness; Investment Readiness; Business Modelling and Job Creation, to mention a few, Impact AfricaSocial 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.

Striving to be an inclusive event and reaching the underserved innovator, is a major consideration this year and therefore will feature sign-language interpreters for the first time, who will participate in most sessions to open-up to and encourage a wider, diverse audience.

Moses Anibaba, British Council’s Regional Director, puts it this way “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 programes that Impact!Africa 2021 has to offer.”

According to Lucy Pearson, Director British Council Nigeriaand Director West Africa, “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.”

Pape Samb, Ashoka’s Africa Diamond Leader, 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”.

British Council and Ashoka are calling on all young social entrepreneurs as well as business innovators to register to be part of a unique ecosystem that is making good change happen across Africa. Visit the British Council Nigeria and Ashoka’s social media channels as well as the Impact Africa Summit website for more information.www.impactafricasummit.net

About the British Council

The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. We work in two ways – directly with individuals to transform their lives, and with governments and partners to make a bigger difference for the longer term, creating benefit for millions ofpeople all over the world. We help young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections they are looking for, to realise their potential and to participate in strong and inclusive communities. We are on the ground in 19 countries in Sub Saharan Africa and deliver impact working with local institutions and partners.

About Ashoka

The world is defined by change and requires a new mindset. Ashoka envisions a world in which everyone is a changemaker: a world where all citizens are powerful and contribute to change in positive ways. Established in 1981, Ashoka identifies and supports the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, learns from the patterns in their innovations, and mobilizes a global community that embraces these new frameworks to build an “everyone a changemaker world.” Together, we collaborate to transform institutions and cultures worldwide so they support changemaking for the good of society.