YouthConnekt Africa Summit launches Hub, and Innovation and Empowerment Fund to expand Opportunities for Youth

Aug 3, 2017

Young African entrepreneurs with innovative start-ups that have potential for scale up across the region will soon have access to financing and a support structure through the YouthConnekt Africa Hub and YouthConnekt Innovation and Empowerment Fund.

The establishment of the Hub and Innovation and Empowerment Fund was agreed to at the inaugural YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2017 in Rwanda’s capital Kigali during 19-21 July.

YouthConnekt, initiated by Rwanda in 2013, is designed to realise the demographic dividend by combining elements of skills development, entrepreneurship, access to jobs and finance, awareness raising on issues related to youth development, and promotion of youth citizenship through community work and inclusion in local and national policy dialogue.

Since its launch, YouthConnekt has enabled four million young people aged between 16 and 34 to actively participate in Rwanda’s development through job creation, ICT innovations, skills development and citizen engagement.

Based on this success, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will work with the Government of Rwanda to scale up the YouthConnekt Initiative to the regional level. UNDP is already supporting the roll-out of the initiative in five African countries—Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

By connecting government, private sector and youth, the YouthConnekt Hub will work to identify start-ups that are solving challenges on the continent and provide access to appropriate infrastructure and support to have an African footprint.

The YouthConnekt Africa Empowerment Fund will offer regional support to youth empowerment initiatives including grants, financing and training, among other activities.

 “We will provide technical and financial support to the establishment of the Regional Hub here in Kigali and the design of the YouthConnekt Africa Innovation and Empowerment Fund,” said UNDP Africa Director Abdoulaye Mar Dieye during the July summit.

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina committed to co-hosting, with UNDP and the government of Rwanda, the 2018 YouthConnekt Africa Summit. In his remarks, Adesina also called on the youth to venture into agriculture income generating projects and create more employment saying that agribusiness has become a lucrative business in the developed economies.

Alibaba Group CEO Jack Ma committed the Alibaba Group to (i) host 200 African young entrepreneurs to work at Alibaba headquarters to gain experience in fields including e-commerce, Artificial Intelligence and Internet; (ii) work with universities in Africa and governments to train specific courses including; Internet, Artificial Intelligence, and e-commerce; (iii) promote and support environmental conservation efforts in Africa; and (iv) provide US$ 10 million to support youth entrepreneurship. 

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