Young entrepreneurs being overlooked in youth unemployment crisis

21 young researchers from seven African countries have launched a new report that calls for a rethink of how young entrepreneurs on the continent are supported so that they can fulfill their potential in tackling the youth unemployment crisis. 

Despite youth entrepreneurship representing a large proportion of the work that is done in Sub-Saharan Africa, the researchers found that existing policy and interventions designed to create jobs and lower unemployment are largely overlooking and failing to support young entrepreneurs. 

Supporting Small-Scale Entrepreneurs

A new report from the Youth Think Tank.

Read the full report

Speaking to more than 1000 young entrepreneurs across seven countries in Africa, the research found that they had a strong aspiration to use their businesses to tackle the unemployment crisis but needed better support in specific areas including:

  • Tailored support with business plans to help expand their workforce
  • Support to develop competition strategies in their markets
  • Tailored skill-building and financial capital from trusted sources
  • Support to digitise their businesses following the COVID-19 pandemic

Young entrepreneurs in Africa care about more than their own success. They want to use their businesses to tackle youth unemployment, but they are seriously lacking the support.

These young entrepreneurs know their own potential, but do policymakers realise it too? Unless we rethink the way their businesses are supported, a massive opportunity to help solve the youth unemployment crisis could be lost. 

Ghislain Irakoze, one of the Youth Think Tank Researchers.

Youth-led research

The report was created based on research carried out by 21 members of the Mastercard Foundation Youth Think Tank. The researchers come from, and collected data in, seven African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Their findings reflect the lived realities of more than 1000 young people, captured by young people.

Restless Development works with hundreds of young researchers across the world to get better insights into the lived experiences of young people because those insights are captured by those best positioned to do so – their peers. It is also fundamentally about shifting power, posing the questions: Who is an ‘expert’? Who owns knowledge? Who gets to generate knowledge?

We have to listen to young entrepreneurs if we’re really going to find solutions to the youth unemployment crisis. That’s where this research began – the recommendations from this report come from young people talking to each other to understand their businesses’ needs. Listening is what must also come next from policymakers so that the future world of work is defined and designed by those young people living it.

Their aspirations are beyond themselves. They want to employ others and solve unemployment in their countries. They need access to tailored support, skill-building opportunities and financial capital from trusted sources to grow their businesses.

Charles Mankhwazi, Restless Development’s Research Manager.

More youth-led research.