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World Economic Forum launches Africa growth platform for entrepreneurs

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday announced the launch of a new initiative, the Africa Growth Platform, to help the continent’s community of start-up enterprises grow and compete in international markets.

The platform is expected to bring together governments, investors and entrepreneurs to enhance funding prospects and create a better enabling environment for business growth.

It will secure commitments from governments to implement policy reforms aimed at stimulating and accelerating business growth, build a community of  private investors, foundations, multilateral institutions and corporate intrapreneurs to enable better coordination and pooling of resources that could facilitate larger subsequent rounds of funding, as well as create and sustain a community of start-up businesses themselves, promoting collaboration and sharing best practices.

‘Africa’s entrepreneurs are its greatest economic asset but spirit and resourcefulness alone are not always enough to help them succeed. Too often start-ups and innovative enterprises fail needlessly through lack of additional finance or overly burdensome regulations,’ said Elsie Kanza, head of Africa at the WEF.

‘The Africa Growth Platform brings together all the actors, governments, investors and the businesses themselves necessary to create an environment where they can fulfil their potential in terms of growth and employment.’

The forum said the need for an innovative approach to helping Africa’s start-ups reach the scale where they become sustainable was backed up by data. Two-thirds of Africa’s 420 million young people are currently jobless, highlighting a need for new solutions to drive employment growth.

At the same time, Africa’s young people are well-endowed with entrepreneurial spirit, with early-stage entrepreneurial activity 13 percent higher than the global average. However, due to insufficient support and infrastructure, the region’s start-ups are 14 percent more likely to fail than those elsewhere in the world.

The Africa growth platform will form a major part of the programme at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town on September 4-6.

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