By Telford Aduda
Renown global organizations have come together to raise funds amounting to Sh100 billion ($1 billion) US dollars to support entrepreneurs in Africa, in a long term arrangement.
Citi, Ernst & Young, General Electric, SkyPower, Rendeavour, Google and IBM have already stepped forward with long term financial commitments for the project.
The firms have till 2017 to make private investments that will go towards supporting emerging entrepreneurs in starting and scaling up their firms.
According to Jonathan Ortmans President of Global Entrepreneurship Network, the firm that works together with the US government to make the GES a success, African entrepreneurship has been the missing link in the continent’s development, entrepreneurs need stronger ecosystems to nurture their ideas.
The initiative is a creation of GEN, Global Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and Tony Elumelu Foundation, who signed an agreement to lead an initiative called Spar Global Entrepreneurship.
The initiative will constantly mobilize funds to support entrepreneurs in promising business hubs like Kenya for the East African region way after the commitments of the GES.
Spark will also tap into the growing involvement of government programs to help entrepreneurs start and scale up new firms. From the initiative, there will be a trainings movement to bring together entrepreneurs bi- annually, both budding and those who have failed before to experience the challenges in their previous encounters so that they can learn from successful ones.
Access to start- up capital, high operating costs and basic infrastructure such as power and transport are among the points that will be addressed in funding entrepreneurs through the new project.
A report ‘Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs’ released Saturday at GES by Tony Elumelu Foundation, one of the partners in the Spark initiative pointed out the factors as the greatest setbacks standing in the way of entrepreneurial success.
Among long term projects that focus on benefitting entrepreneurs from the GES are; a Sh68 billion fund pledged yesterday from various US government funds, an initiative by President Obama himself to set up support centers for women entrepreneurs in Zambia, Kenya and Mali.
The pledges are aside the overall $1 billion plan by the US government. The funds are likely to see the continent’s economy rise up since most start- ups are considered middle class, majority in each African country.
The move follows US President Barrack Obama’s call at the GES for corporations to assist entrepreneurs regionally.
“Entrepreneurship creates new jobs and new businesses, new ways to deliver basic services, new ways of seeing the world, it is the spark of prosperity, it means ownership and self – determination, we should come out in numbers to make the ecosystem conducive for the growth they are pushing for,” said US President Obama on Sunday.
The Spark Initiative was first initiated at the GES 2014 in Morocco by US Vice-President Joseph Biden for a lasting solution to big innovative minds in Africa.