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The maiden edition of the Africa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Summit held via zoom on November 30, 2022, served its intended purpose by exploring the vast possibilities of Africa’s Economic Development through Entrepreneurship and the diverse entrepreneurial ways young Africans can contribute to building a sustainably attractive continent.

The Summit offered a unique platform to inspire young Africans to take action & generate thought-provoking discussions on how to re-write the African story through innovation & entrepreneurship.

We had impressive virtual attendance with uneven representation from all regions on the African continent. The highest & lowest number of participants hailed from West & Central Africa respectively – 68% from West Africa, 16% from East Africa, 6% from Southern Africa, 3% from Central Africa, and 7% – Outside the African domain.

Our Pulse Check exercise indicated that 71% of participants were Entrepreneurs, while 29% were non-entrepreneurs. In attendance were 77% workers, 13% students, and 10% who were unemployed.

Our maiden edition was competently hosted by Gifty Boatemaa Annan, CEO & Co-founder of WestlionCo and insightfully facilitated by three remarkable female leaders with experiential authority to speak on the subject – Hamdiya Ismaila, General Manager, Venture Capital Trust Fund | Arielle Molino, Associate Vice President, Intellecap | Akosua Manu, Deputy CEO, National Youth Authority, Ghana.

In the opening lines of her rejuvenating keynote delivery on the topic “Entrepreneurship: Africa’s catalyst for Economic Prosperity”, Hamdiya Ismaila stated,

Africa is gradually taking its spot on the international stage as a continent of growth & opportunities, notwithstanding the critical challenges facing the continent such as youth unemployment; increasing the need to create substantial jobs and build the core group of homegrown business leaders, capable of accessing the global market and driving growth in sustainable & inclusive ways.

Hamdiya Ismaila, General Manager – Venture Capital Trust Fund
Keynote Speaker, Africa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Summit 2022

Her keynote speech highlighted the overarching impact of two prominent companies within a global context (Ford Motor Company & Amazon), recognizing their unique accomplishments, through innovative thinking and fierce leadership over many years.

She brought the conversation home with two African giants in focus; Dangote Group and Jospong Group of Companies, organizations with deeps roots in Nigeria, and Ghana respectively.

Hamdiya stressed extensively on the growth voyage of the aforementioned companies to serve as inspirational conduits to all participants and by extension every young person in Africa.

She further stated some key industries with great prospects and encouraged young Africans to leverage the potential of these promising industries. Chief among them was Agriculture, remarking that if there could be sufficient support for local Agribusinesses, the continent could produce enough food for its people while creating wealth. Renewable Energy, waste recycling & Healthcare amongst others.

She concluded by touching on existing funding gaps and much better ways to position African Startups, SMEs, and entrepreneurs to attract funding and ultimately widen stakeholder involvement in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Her last remark set the stage beautifully for our next speaker.

The next session featured Arielle Molino, Associate Vice President of Intellecap, who shared essential insights on the topic “Africa Rising: Leveraging ecosystems for economic sustainability“.

According to Arielle, the conversation on ecosystem transcends investors and entrepreneurs. The health and wealth of an ecosystem also involve people like Lawyers, Accountants, HR professionals and others who play key roles in ensuring entrepreneurs reach their absorptive capacity.

Addressing participants, Arielle outlined three essential pillars that serve as the building blocks of an ecosystem; Capital, Knowledge & Networks. Dominant amongst them is Network; entrepreneurs need network to access money, support providers and services.

Agriculture, Climate Change, Financial Inclusion & Livelihoods and Gender were principal sectorial-based opportunities highlighted during her presentation. With Nairobi as her primary base, she shared with us few trends in East Africa as shown below;

Arielle wrapped up with three recommendations to help close the gap; more deals with smaller ticket sizes, better linkages across the ecosystem between different players and more sustained support for early stage entrepreneurs to build a healthy pipeline.

Using Kenya as a primary case study; Kenya has been adjudged the epicenter of innovation in Africa – Silicon Savannah. This definitely proves the existence of an enabling ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurship. What is Kenya doing right? Can the rest of Africa emulate this? Give us an overall picture of Kenya’s entrepreneurial ecosystem – favorable government policies, private sector support etc.

Question asked by Host, Gifty Boatemaa Annan
Africa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Summit 2022

In addressing the question above, our Nairobi-based speaker touched on the Startup Act, the proactiveness of the private sector & the consistent catch-up approach by the government. Mentality, Accessibility and language play major roles as well.

Our final Guest speaker in the person of Akosua Manu, Deputy CEO of National Youth Authority spoke to participants on a very sensitive topic “Changing the Narrative: Transitioning from Job seekers to Job providers“.

Given the swift flip in the unemployment narrative in recent times, engendered by the significant gap between young graduates churning out of our universities and the limited employment opportunities available, Akosua had a subtle mandate to reposition mindsets from job seeking to job creation. Below is a summarized version of her presentation;

In 2019/2020, the world first took notice of a ravaging pandemic that left us with crippling legacies that have plunged middle income countries like Ghana in the wake of recovery. At a time like this, we must draw strength and hope from young people who have defied existing odds to build thriving enterprises through resilience in order to do better for our continent. Young people hold the key to literally everything.

The evolution and democratization of the internet has levelled the playing field in access to knowledge and information. However, even though information is key, one’s ability to declutter the noise from a pile of data and gain clarity require a Strong Sense of Skill, Emotional Intelligence & Purpose.

Akosua Manu, Deputy CEO – NYA
Africa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Summit 2022

In the spirit of job creation, the idea of entrepreneurship must come across as the need to spin the already modeled wheels by building strategic synergies and revitalizing opportunities embedded in our creative communities.

Under the flag of the same topic, Akosua entreated young job creators to prioritize collaboration & partnership, envisioning connections, engaging full spectrum branding (websites & social media platforms), investing in visual consistency by paying attention to details and ultimately providing seamless solutions in order to rise above competition and increase customer satisfaction.

These practical & factual conversations sparked up the interest of participants leading to a wide range of questions from our audience. This will certainly go a long way to drive and foster entrepreneurship on the African continent, starting with our participants.

On behalf of our CEO, Miss Annan and the entire WestlionCo Team, we express our utmost gratitude to our remarkable speakers for their time spent, energy expensed & knowledge dispensed and we appreciate all participants who made time to join our maiden edition and we are grateful for all meaningful contributions from their end.

Anticipate Africa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Summit 2023!!!

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