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Microsoft Strengthens Partnership with AfDB to Fast-track Africa Youth entrepreneurship

Microsoft Strengthens Partnership with AfDB to Fast-track Africa Youth entrepreneurship

Fadekemi Ajakaiye

Microsoft is expanding its partnership with the African Development Bank to support Africa’s youth entrepreneurs under the bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIB) Initiative.

The partnership will scale up technical and financial support for young entrepreneurs, according to the coalition offiials.

Through its African Transformation Office (ATO), Microsoft will work with the bank to develop youth entrepreneurship ecosystems, creating jobs and dramatically scaling impact in Africa through digital inclusion.

Africa’s young population is expected to double in size by 2050, reaching 830 million. Though 10 to 12 million youth join the continent’s workforce every year, just over 3 million jobs are created, meaning large numbers of people remain unemployed.

Youth entrepreneurship will go a long way to solving the employment challenge, but lack of investment, affordable access to finance and quality business development services still present significant hurdles.

“We believe much can be done to help foster youth entrepreneurship by collaborating with the African Development Bank, driving greater economic inclusion for this key segment of the population, and ultimately building a more prosperous society,” says the General Manager of Microsoft Africa Regional Cluster Wael Elkabbany. He adds,” already we’ve seen considerable success partnering together on initiatives such as Coding for Employment, which aims to equip millions of African youth with employable skills, ultimately creating broadscale employment.”

The African Development Bank Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization Solomon Quaynor says: “The strengthening of our partnership with Microsoft on the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIB) is an important development in our journey towards harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend and facilitating the creation of millions of jobs for young Africans by 2025. The initiative places much-needed focus on youth entrepreneurship, which is key to achieving our ambitious employment targets.”

The partnership seeks to support the establishment of national-level institutions through a public-private collaboration model to scale up technical and financial support for youth entrepreneurs and build their capacity. The Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank is a unique value proposition set up by the African Development Bank that anchors and integrates efforts to develop entrepreneurship ecosystems in Africa. Through this initiative, the bank will bring together all relevant financial and non-financial parties and partners to play their respective roles in supporting youth entrepreneurs through mentorship, coaching, knowledge and experience sharing, and more.

Collaborating with both private sectors and partners, the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank will establish a funding scheme, credit guarantee scheme, and technical assistance programs to strengthen providers of services to entrepreneurs. In terms of policy support, it will advocate to governments for the business enabling environment reforms needed to catalyse youth entrepreneurship.

Microsoft will also leverage its partner ecosystem, which covers 54 countries across the continent, to action on key technology solutions across four key areas. These include skilling, connectivity, small-

to-medium enterprise (SME) digitization and hardware:

Skilling

To connect youth to economic opportunity and employability skills, the partnership will provide them with career pathway and learning content. This includes the use of existing e-learning platforms such as Coding for Employment. The initiative also aims to build the capacity of Enterprise Services Organizations, benefitting youth through the training of trainers.

Connectivity

By leveraging successful connectivity solutions such as Microsoft Airband, the partnership will develop effective infrastructure models to help bridge the digital divide. At the same time, it will support other innovative solutions on the market either through direct or indirect investment.

Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) digitization

The partnership also aims to improve SME digital literacy and business skills by creating access to curated learning content, certifications, business solutions, business skills and specialized digital skills. This will be driven in partnership with LinkedIn and through skilling programs such as MS Learn and the Cloud Academy. Access to finance for digitally enabled SMEs will also be facilitated through Microsoft partnerships.

Hardware

SME access to bundled hardware solutions will be created by Microsoft and its partners. SMEs will also be able to purchase Microsoft technology at discounted prices.

The partnership also forms an important part of Microsoft ATO’s mission to empower 10 million SMEs through access to skilling initiatives and investments, and to generate the capacity needed to scale and provide digital skills to 30 million Africans.

“We’re excited about the potential of this collaboration to magnify the work Microsoft is doing around digital inclusion in Africa. The digital economy plays an important part in giving rise to innovative new ventures that will create sustainable employment for young Africans. The more we can ensure budding young entrepreneurs are given every opportunity to participate in the digital economy, the closer we get to building a more prosperous future for everyone,” concludes Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh, Strategic Partnerships Lead, Microsoft ATO.

Bread & Butter Initiative Takes CSR to Destitutes’ Village 

Fadekemi Ajakaiye 

A group, Bread & Butter Initiative has taken its Corporate social responsibility (CSR) to a community for destitutes built by the Lagos State Government at Oko Baba.

Babajide Ogunsanwo, a data analyst and founder of The FactBox, as well as the founder of Bread & Butter initiative, a corporate social responsibility of The Factbox, stated that over the years of doing research and analysis of the challenges and opportunities in Nigeria, especially Lagos, a major challenge detected was that the less privilege number is on the high side, especially children.

Speaking about what led his organisation to institute their CSR project at the Okobaba facility for beggers, he said, “We discovered this facility two years ago, which has very young boys and girls, who shouldn’t be living in this condition.

“Based on this situation, we decided to firstly provide them with meals. We make provisions for over 300 children on last Saturday of the month, and this we have done consistently for the past 2 years.

“Curently, our plan is to provide them with meals from once a month to once a week till it becomes daily. 

Ogunsanwo said the second challenge has to do with the name of the facility, which is even recognized on the map as the Beggars village or the Destitutes home. The challenge is that the name was given by the government and we don’t have the power to change it, rather we thought of a better nickname to reflect what is going on in this facility, thereby not contravening any law, he said. 

The new nickname is the Home of Potentials, rather than a place of destitutes, we see people with great destinies, he stated. 

We see people through the support of either the public or private sectors, reach their potentials and fulfill destinies. We see great destinies living here, and so the unveiling of the nickname, he said.

We are hoping and praying that the government will embrace this nickname and adopt it as the official name of the facility, he stated. 

He said an inspiring thing about this facility is that there is no day, that we come here and don’t see children smile despite the state of their living, that truly inspires us to do more.

Above all, there are more children in this facility than adults, a lot of unlocked potentials, a lot of unfulfilled dreams. I see a lot of opportunities that needs to be tapped and children who should tell their stories. It’s truly an opportunity for grass to grace, he said. 

He said that the government needs to see that vision in this facility. Yes the government can’t meet the needs of everyone in the society but a big step is to inspire. This we started from the entrance to inspire from the name.

The children initially see the word destitutes, what they always hear before was beggars, our mission is to inspire them to see the word Home of potentials, as that will inspire them and allow them to challenge themselves to greater heights, he said. 

As insignificant as this may seem, we see a great significance in this name change, he said.

The  Secretary of the Community, Muhammad Baba, expressed his profound gratitude to the Bread & Butter Initiative of the Factbox for looking out for the children.

He stated that the children were the future and should not end up like their parents, so the need to go to school and become great people in the future. He further appealed to well meaning Nigerians to support them as the government alone can not do it. 

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